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It is time to take toxic heat out of politics

Most people just want to know they can put a roof over their heads, food on their tables and pay their bills (and not have to live hand to mouth). They also want adequate healthcare when they need it, be able to educate their children, feel safe and have a future (and planet) for their kids. Is that too much? Not everyone aspires to be like the ‘‘1per cent’’.
Rod Eldridge, Derrinallum

We all need honesty and fairness from the top

Hopefully with the change of leadership and party in power, the US will rebuild. It has been on a slippery slope for many years, particularly with regard to the ‘‘haves’’ and ‘‘have nots’’. In the 1950s and ’60s, living there was more equitable and, arguably, there has been a decline ever since. The Trump years highlighted these gaps and revealed the unhappiness of many people.

Australia should learn from this. We have a smaller population than the US but the pain resulting from inequity still causes disharmony. Honesty and fairness from the top, be it government or business, are two qualities that are in decline. We need to change too.
Joan Johnson, Camberwell

A real opportunity for Biden to make changes

Despite deep division and debilitating conflict within the US body politic, the democratic electoral process and its constitutional underpinnings have prevailed, with the transition reflecting the will of the American people. Simply, Donald Trump and the Republicans have been lawfully defeated at the ballot box with a significant win in both houses of Congress for Joe Biden and the Democrats. This will enable the Biden administration to legislate its more progressive agenda without the Senate encumbrances that bedevilled the eight years of the Obama presidency.
David Jewell, Surrey Hills

After four long years, a new sense of togetherness

What a magnificent and inspirational speech from Joe Biden at his inauguration. He has given hope for the future of democracy. With his genuine commitment to all Americans, he can bring reconciliation and a sense of togetherness to this land that has been so deeply divided. His words about the need for tolerance and understanding must echo not only in the US but across the world so that we can be seen as ‘‘one family’’. This is the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

A narrow escape and now the haunted road ahead

Finding words to express the pervading feeling right now, it is worth taking a moment to recall the prescient words of the scholarly Carl Sagan who passed away in 1996.

‘‘One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.’’ Percipient words indeed. The charlatan’s ghost might linger.
Russell Brown, Warragul

Very different leaders and administrations

President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will serve the needs of their country – unlike the dissolute, amoral, self-aggrandising, authoritarian wannabe and now ex-president Donald Trump who, supported by his lackeys, would have had the country serve him.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe

THE FORUM

May time heal the wounds

After watching programs on Joe and Jill Biden, I have nothing but admiration and respect for them. I found their common humanity and the love they have for each other, and the healing speech he made at his inauguration, calming and admirable after the strange era that has just ended. Biden will bring some sense of peace and normality to that troubled nation.

I also felt a sadness for Donald Trump at this time of his humiliation and, in his own view, a perceived failure. For all his words and actions, underneath he is another human who feels hurt and a great sense of loss. He actually accomplished quite a lot. May time be healing for him and this great country.
Dennis Whelan, Balwyn

Odd change of allegiance

Joe Hockey’s article – ‘‘Biden, calm and firm, the right man to mend US’’ (Opinion, 21/1) – was amusing. He has been a blatant Trump supporter for the past four years and even supported his claims of election fraud. Now he expects the world to believe he was a Biden supporter all along. Pull the other one, Mr Hockey.
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood

Remove climate sceptics

One climate change-denying, fossil fuel-loving, big business-driven, baseball cap-wearing leader has finally gone in the United States. There is one to go in Australia.
Barry Doyle, Portarlington

Misplaced priorities

Oh, the irony with two headlines on page 14 (The Age, 21/1). First, ‘‘Morrison backs future of coal mining’’ and then ‘‘Hydrogen battery powers household on single charge’’. This time I did choke on my muesli.
Vivienne Martin, Coburg

Keep LAVO battery here

In 1975, as a part of my coursework, I was required to give a presentation on the hydrogen economy. Since then I have harangued many people on the possibility of using hydrogen as an alternative fuel. How exhilarating to read about the battery system, developed by an Australian company, LAVO, working with the University of NSW. As a nation, I hope we can see the benefits of retaining the intellectual and manufacturing rights of such a game changer here.
Ross Crawford, Korumburra

Let the refugees stay

I am so glad that some refugees have been released from hotels, but devastated that they will only get bridging visas. Why can’t they, and those still in hotels, be allowed to settle here? We have plenty of room, this is a big country.

I cannot imagine what they have been through after seven years on Manus, then more than a year locked up without fresh air or exercise. Can our politicians please show some empathy and generosity? These people may be more than happy to go the country for a few months and pick fruit in return for a permanent visa. If not, give them other options and somewhere safe to live.
Carol Evans, Elwood

Let’s show our generosity

On January 26, we will reflect on the history of this land for the past 60,000 years and the past 200 years. There will be grief and anger as well as gratitude and barbecues. Some citizens will be honoured. Pundits will analyse our national character. Are we generous? If we are, may I suggest a small gesture we could make on the day. Let the refugee family on Christmas Island return to Biloela where the children were born and the Dad worked hard in the abattoir for five years.
Marysia Green, Hawthorn East

No cause to celebrate

If another country invaded Australia and took it over, massacred many of our families, took possession of our land, homes and properties, took away our culture, forbade us from speaking English and punished us if we did, took away our children in an effort to cleanse us of our ethnicity, herded us into enclaves and missions, rounded up our sons, fathers, uncles and grandfathers in balls and chains and treated us as ‘‘sub-human’’, would we and our descendants want to ‘‘celebrate’’ the anniversary of that day?

I think not. So why would we expect First Nations people to feel differently and why would those in positions of power be so insensitive to ignore what this day truly means? What have we got to lose by changing the date of Australia Day?
Susan Hillman Stolz, Rye

So many empty promises

Thank you, Rachel Clun – ‘‘Elderly wait for home care packages’’ (The Age, 20/1). My husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and, in the early stages, I required no assistance to care for him. After two stays in hospital with infections, and his condition deteriorating, it was suggested an aged care assessment team decide whether I was eligible for help.

He was assessed as needing a level 2 package. After 18 months I received a letter informing me to ‘‘get ready’’ and start thinking about providers as the package would be available in three months. That was the last I heard of it. After further deterioration, my husband was assessed as requiring a level 4 package. Needless to say, this never eventuated. As I had health issues, I needed support and paid for private carers to come in daily for showering, dressing etc.

It has been hard to accept that I can no longer look after my husband and afford 24/7 care for him at home. However, he is now in permanent aged care in an amazing facility and receiving the best of care, for which we are paying substantial fees. I really feel for those who are promised support to keep their loved ones at home and who cannot afford to have access to private care there.
Judy Eyles, Ocean Grove

Precious learning lost

Much has been said about the Australian Open but little in regard to the umpires, ball kids and other officials. Obviously with the change of date, the ball kids will have to miss school. For those who work at the finals, they may miss up to two weeks. The first weeks of the year are very important for many kids, particularly if they are at new schools and with new systems to learn. I can only hope that all these people will be COVID-safe.
Jo Olsen, Blairgowrie

The joy of the tennis

Could people please stop complaining about the Australian Open. We are a very lucky country in regards to the coronavirus. Millions of people around the world are in lockdown and need a live tennis match to watch.
Sarah Gregson, Richmond

Well played, gentlemen

A sincere congratulations to the Indian cricket team on a magnificent win. It may not have felt like it at times during the series but rest assured you had most of Australia supporting you on that final day. Well played.
Neale Meagher, Malvern

A lesson for the Aussies

It seems that the Australian cricket team is not as good as they thought. What a surprise, given their cockiness. Bravo to the Indian team, who played with dignity, and won the series against all the odds – losing star batsman and captain Virat Kohli for personal reasons and half of their normal test team to injury. Step up the newbie debutants who played with amazing skill, underlining the great depth of their talent. A stunning, truly inspirational victory. Hopefully the Australians will learn some humility at last.
Ray Cas, Ashwood

Opt for the good shots

I am a strong advocate of ‘‘shooting’’ ducks (or any wildlife). What better pastime in the great outdoors than stalking, taking aim and shooting them? Simply swap your gun for a camera. Post your results on social media and leave your quarry for someone else to also ‘‘shoot’’ and capture its beauty.
Lindsey Hawkins, Park Orchards

Preserve our open space

Further to Colin Thomson’s comments – ‘‘Thin edge of the wedge’’ (Letters, 19/1). There should be a law that any open space used or built on should be replaced nearby. For example, Melbourne lost hectares of open space when the Tennis Centre and other developments nearby were built.

No matter the cost, new open space should have been created. Without doing so, we run the risk of having public open space being steadily swallowed up over the years. Further, ‘‘consultation’’ these days involves all levels of government simply telling you of the decisions they have made.
Vince Vozzo, Melbourne

The rich must cough up

Re. the article by Andrew Leigh – ‘‘Billionaires must repay millions in JobKeeper’’ (Opinion, 20/1). I am a self-employed travel agent and am receiving JobKeeper. As we all know, this will end in March, so I will have zero income and no business. I would be very happy if someone like Solomon Lew were to repay his JobKeeper payments and executive bonuses etc, so I could have a living as well. That way, the government could keep JobKeeper going for me and my fellow agents for a while longer.
Colin Hood, Carlton North

Insist on the refunds

Most taxpayers would agree that a business which received JobKeeper, but then later had a boost in profits, should repay the money. The government was quick to use its flawed robo-debt system to demand money from welfare recipients, so why not demand refunds from businesses? Is it because welfare recipients are soft targets who cannot easily defend themselves, whereas private enterprise is the government’s friend and able to offer a challenge? As Andrew Leigh says, it should not be up to individual companies to decide if they will refund the money.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn

Let’s all sing along

Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling, Donald has gone away.
Maurie Keenan, Balaclava

Truly the perfect hand

Bridge players are heaving a sigh of relief. ‘‘No Trumps’’ is official.
Doug Shapiro, Doncaster East

AND ANOTHER THING


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Presidents

After four years of a toddler’s tantrums, the adults are back in charge.
Mick Webster, Chiltern

Finally Donald has drained the swamp. He’s left.
Sam Bando, St Kilda East

The loyal members of Trump’s presidency couldn’t attend his send-off: they’re under a bus.
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

Just a four-year bump in the road. Now the world hopes for a smoother journey ahead.
Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg

Environment

Biden recommits to the Paris accord, Morrison recommits to coal. Wrong way. Go back.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills

ScoMo is heading for a major ‘‘coallision’’ with most of the Australian electorate.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

The millions of dollars of political donations from the mining industry have been well worth it.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Sport

Game, set and match, Craig Tiley.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury

Organisers could impose a handicap to players based on the time they spent in lockdown.
Michael Gould, Glen Iris

If players aren’t happy, they can go home once their quarantine is up.
Robyn Lovell, Epping

My physically disabled granddaughter would love to be able to wash her own hair.
Margaret Lay, Bulleen

Channel 7’s cricket commentators – knowledgeable, focused, little chatter, unlike the ABC’s team.
Elizabeth Douglas, Melbourne

Apart from a few idiotic racist comments, one of the most beautiful Test series.
John Crossley, Oakleigh

I was horrified to read that the Gabba crowd had booed, then relieved that the Australians, not Indians, were the target.
Bronwen Murdoch, South Melbourne

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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