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Debate would give a voice to deranged supporters

Julian Roberts, Burwood

We must first remedy the causes

Quite right, James Young (“A ban won’t solve it”, Letters, 26/1). There was a time when people were compelled to fly the swastika in Nazi Germany and terrible things happened if your lack of enthusiasm was detected.

Then, as now, it is widely understood why and how such symbols come into existence and there is no point in bans until we remedy the causes.

Your correspondent’s “reminder that not all is well with the world” (“The debate’s been had”, Letters, 26/1) is self-evident, but the dictatorial “Everything not forbidden is compulsory” response will simply anchor us in the 20th century.

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

The symbol is sacred in Eastern religions

If the Governor-General’s suggested debate results in the banning of the swastika, this will certainly distress people of Indian origin, especially Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, for whom the swastika is a sacred symbol that can be compared to the cross for its status in Christianity.

Hinduism, for example, adopted the swastika symbol thousands of years ago. For Hindus, the swastika symbolises balance, harmony, peace, perfection and a host of other virtues to which a civilised people aspire.

The fact that the symbol was misused and tainted by the Nazis should not be the reason to ban the swastika.

Bill Mathew, Parkville

The symbol continues to cause suffering and pain

Thank you for your call to ban the swastika and Nazi memorabilia (Editorial, 17/1). It is difficult to understand the motives of those who would fly the swastika or sell items with this symbol when they caused and continue to cause such great suffering and pain.

Of course, if the woman recently claiming German descent as the reason for flying the flag above her home in rural Victoria was to go to Germany and do the same thing there, she would be quickly arrested.

Syd Stirling, Darwin

Proposed ban must be preceded by informed debate

Your correspondent (“The debate’s been had”, Letters, 26/1) is not correct in stating that the swastika is a universal symbol of hatred, white supremacy and other evils.

While these meanings have been associated with the swastika in European societies for nearly 100 years they are not universally held.

For thousands of years the swastika, in various styles, has been a symbol of divinity and wellbeing in south Asia and remains so today in Hindu, Jain and Buddhist cultures.

In our multicultural society any proposed ban must be preceded by an informed debate – as recently suggested by Governor-General David Hurley.

Bob Aikenhead, Carlton North

THE FORUM

Lost and lost again

It is so sad to read each of the letters in The Age expressing their disappointment and despair of Malcolm Turnbull.

He had the chance to lead, to stare the old men in dark suits in the eye. He could have challenged them to challenge him, which I doubt they would have done, as their jobs would have been on the line if he lost the following election. Instead, he capitulated without a murmur. A Faustian pact with those old men left the Australian people without their dream.

We have lost and lost again since Malcolm left the building and I, for one, could never believe in him again. He had his chance. He displayed an inability to stand for anything he purportedly believed in, bending to whatever prevailing winds were blowing.

We were so let down.

Annie Young, Junortoun

An interesting ride

Ken Taylor (Letters, 27/01) makes a very interesting and perhaps hopeful suggestion of Malcolm Turnbull forming his own political party in the future. A “Turnbull Team”, if you will.

Now, a few MPs and ex-MPs have broken away from their major party home (Steele Hall, Don Chipp, Cory Bernardi) and achieved some success (or not). But this could be different with Mr Turnbull at the helm.

Obviously, this new party could appeal to centrist progressives, or true liberals and libertarians, and people who believe climate change is real, etc.

Malcolm Turnbull would not have to pander to the hard right again. Ever. He might even get his republic back on the agenda? It would be an interesting ride. A Progressive Liberal Party?

Peter Allan, Blackburn

It’s complicated

It is to be hoped that any investigation about the benefits or otherwise of bike passing legislation considers the complexity of shared road use.

For example, what is to be the requirement on roads with a bike lane? In my decades of riding, almost exclusively on roads, I have learnt to ride towards the outside of the bike lane: what is to be feared is “dooring” caused by the unthinking car driver opening their door to get into or out of theircar, rather than being hit by traffic travelling in the same direction as I am.

For the same reason, I always ride towards the outside of the lane on a two-lane road with parked cars. Given the regular abuse we bike riders get from car drivers who think that the road should be exclusively theirs, I hope that any legislation is not grounds for further rage from them as we are seen to be pushing them closer to the centre of the road.

Steve Halliwell, Northcote

A double win

When you consider that obesity costs Australia more than $100 billion a year whilst the sugar industry makes a revenue of just $2billion a year, a tax on sugar would improve our bottom line in more ways than one.

David Blom, Nunawading

Small potatoes

It looks like Bridget McKenzie might possibly be held to account for a conflict of interest in granting $36,000 to her gun club.

However, if the pork barrelling of other money from the $100million sports fund will be let go, that would be akin to ignoring a bank robbery while prosecuting the robbers for parking their getaway car in a “no standing” area.

Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Inadequate care …

If medical attention provided to those in offshore detention is as adequate as Katie Allen claims (Comment, 28/1), why did the Queensland Coroner find that the death of Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Khazaei was preventable after he had contracted a leg infection in 2014 at the Manus Island detention centre.

The Coroner found that Khazaei’s death was the result of a series of compounding errors in healthcare provided to him under Australia’s offshore immigration detention system.

Despite Katie Allen’s claims, support and medical attention, at least in this instance, were clearly found to be inadequate and Hamid Khazaei paid the ultimate price.

Garry Meller, Bentleigh

… until medevac

The irrefutable fact is that until medevac, men died waiting for politicians and bureaucrats to decide if they deserved medical transfer.

Men who were clearly in psychological pain, psychotic and suicidal were left in danger until they took their lives in despair. Men with infections and illness were neglected until they too died.

No political spin can change these brutal facts – men died waiting for care on Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton’s watch while lawyers struggled in the courts to save them.

Medevac for all its difficulties, put medical care back in the hands of doctors instead of cold-hearted politicians and their underlings.

Katie Allen, talking points cannot change these facts.

Pamela Curr, Brunswick

Arndt deserved award

I’ve read and listened to many of Bettina Arndt’s thoughts over the years and think she deserves the award.

I’ve always felt she has a great deal of sympathy for men. She’s really nice about us and our strengths and failings and I think quite rare in that respect. While I know there is a good deal of misogyny around equally I think there is often a deal of underlying misandry.

I think it’s the very nature of being human, and especially for women, who in times gone by and in many countries today are treated shamefully, to have a great deal of mistrust of men.

Dennis Whelan, Balwyn

Sounds like a grab

So the Australian Forest Products Association is again offering, against expert opinion, to help salvage timber in burnt forests including in national parks.

It sounds more cynically like selfishly “helping themselves” to what’s left of habitats necessary for wildlife and environmental recovery. Just nick off and leave it alone.

David Gray, Mount Martha

Pause for thought

It may be a truism to say that most men will die with prostate cancer rather than from it (“Some cancers better left undetected”, The Age, 27/1).

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer (gleason 7) in 2014. After three years of regular biopsies, and on the better-safe-than-sorry principle, I had my prostate removed in 2017. There followed two years of significant incontinence, with another two operations before the problem was finally resolved with an artificial urinary sphincter.

Despite having full extras and top hospital cover, I am left some $15,000 out of pocket. I would certainly think twice about a radical prostatectomy if I had my time over again.

Steve Halliwell, Northcote

A failed policy

All citizens should be grateful to the former Paladin director for being willing to provide evidence of alleged corrupt conduct related to contracts for offshore detention (The Age, 28/1).

The secrecy and ministerial discretion with which Home Affairs has shrouded itself is a recipe for bad governance. Offshore detention is a failed policy with no exit strategy, providing endless opportunities for blackmail.

Only a few hundred refugees are now left to rot in PNG and Nauru since Australia trafficked them there and made them hostages for their hosts to extort the public purse in return for giving some hollow ring of policy achievement.

The flag of “border protection” is false when extended to refugees and asylum seekers. These people are unarmed and fleeing to safety. This failed policy has cost multiple billions to date, and brings Australia into disrepute.

Hopefully what is now being revealed will clear the vision of many who have been swayed by false narratives.

Jane Touzeau, Elwood

They’re not ‘educators’

The comparison of out of school hours care (OSHC) with early childhood care by Kylie Brannelly of the National Outside School Hours Service Alliance (“‘Cinderella’ childcare needs a leg up”, The Age, 27/1) is simply a ploy to get an increase in wages for her members.

Your reporter is incorrect in referring to OSHC “educators” and any suggestion that carers need a qualification is ludicrous. OSHC is not, and has never been, about education but free play time. That it is a learning experience is without doubt, in the same way that life is a learning experience.

And as for Griffith University lecturer Jennifer Carmel referring to perceptions of OSHC being used for short periods, she has obviously not observed the 6pm rush, since 1992 to my personal knowledge, of parents collecting their children from OSHC before they turn into expensive but very loveable pumpkins.

Mary-Anne Ellis, Ivanhoe

It happens here too

Peter Hartcher’s excellent article on China’s response to the coronavirus (Comment, The Age, 28/1) describes a system of “cover-ups, repression and censorship”.

When he sums up, saying, “the locals officials were conducting business as usual” he hits the nail on the head, but China isn’t the only country in the world “fatally flawed” by the business-first ethic, if you get my drift.

Just read the Business pages of The Age for similar “flawed” examples of such behaviour.

Rosemary Taylor, Castlemaine

Three’s enough

It’s time for tennis administrators to cut the men’s matches from five sets to three.

There are good reasons for doing so: five sets is a marathon for both players and spectators, the warming climate makes it unhealthy, the women only play three for equal money, evening matches often go past tired TV spectators’ bedtimes, and a player who’s had a gruelling five-set match is likely to be too knackered to win the next match.

By all means keep five for the finals – for both men and women.

Clive Williams, Forrest, ACT

AND ANOTHER THING

Bridget McKenzie

The only reason the hapless minister Bridget McKenzie could avoid her deserved sacking is that history and political reality demonstrate politics and power decide these matters rather than policy or principle.

Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Perhaps Bridget McKenzie could be brought in to decide on the distribution of the limited number of available face masks.

John Bye, Elwood

Senator Bridget McKenzie once said: “If you have a gun or a bow and arrow, you don’t need urban society to provide for you.” I suppose she means only weak and dependent women go to supermarkets.Jeff McCormack,

Hangelsberg, Germany

Harry and Meghan

Now that Harry and Meghan have to pay their own way, they could set up the following businesses: A clothing line called Dressed for Sussex, a TV sitcom Sussex in the City and a beer company SusseXXXX Gold.

Shaun Miller, Prahran

Politics

Isn’t it good, Scott Morrison, when one catastrophe (the virus) takes the heat off the other catastrophe (Bridget McKenzie).

Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Likening the skills, knowledge and trustworthiness of the current Australian government to those of international airline pilots (Comment, 28/2) is simultaneously laughable and terrifying.

Alice Glover, Thornbury

The tennis

John McEnroe never held back his feelings and thoughts when he played. Neither does he as an excellent, expert, tennis commentator. Good on him.

Doug Perry, Mount Martha

Please don’t tell me Jim Courier is being paid by the word for his commentary.

Peter Carlin, Frankston South

Finally

A question for the compiler of the Superquiz (28/1): Which of the following is not a marsupial: kangaroo, koala, platypus?

Marc Ortlieb, Forest Hill

*Sign up to editor Alex Lavelle’s exclusive weekly newsletter at: www.theage.com.au\editornote.

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