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Kudos to South Gippsland Shire Council for its proactivity in planning for inevitable sea level rise (“Council determined to keep the coast clear as sea levels threaten”, 5/11). That Victoria still works on an out-of-date prediction of 0.8 metres of sea level rise by 2100 is deeply concerning. The extent of Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheet melting should propel us to faster action. We must prepare and adapt to the realities of global heating to keep communities safe. Houses built on areas exposed to storm surges and floodplains are not only at risk of inundation but will also become uninsurable. Traditionally, Australia spends the vast majority of our disaster funding on the wash-up. As our planet heats up, much more must be poured into preparedness. Prevention is better than the cure: all levels of government must work with local communities to protect them from rising risks.
Amy Hiller, Kew
Which cost would you like to bear?
To those who complain about the cost of preparing for climate extremes, what is the cost of the predicted disasters, like inundation at coastal towns? John Hughes, Mentone
Hopefully, other councils will follow suit
At last a shire council is acting by restricting subdivision for housing outside town boundaries on farmland and low-lying areas subject to sea level rise. The South Gippsland Shire Council’s actions hopefully will encourage other government entities to pay heed and limit covering good food-growing country with unproductive concreted infrastructure, as noted by a correspondent (Letters, 4/11). In addition, much has been said about sea level rise, but not much has been done to prevent people building on low-lying blocks. Maybe the probability of government being sued by flooded residents will make many sit up and take notice.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha
Too much consumption is killing the planet
The disastrous decline in ocean fish is further evidence that humanity is overconsuming the natural world (“Crossing the line”, 5/11). According to the UN, more than 90 per cent of the world’s major marine fish stocks are “fully exploited, overexploited or significantly depleted”. But the destruction caused by our bloated appetites is not just at sea. Native forests are being bulldozed in Asia to produce more palm oil, and in the Amazon to graze more cattle. Of all the land mammals now alive, only 4 per cent (by weight) are wild. The other 96 per cent comprises humans and our livestock. Do we need any more proof that our ever-growing numbers and ever-growing appetites are destroying the living planet? Ian Penrose, Kew
Donating to save the oceans
On Saturday night, after reading an article about super trawlers competing with whales for krill off Antarctica, I made a one-off donation to Sea Shepherd, which is down there. Yesterday morning, after reading about illegal overfishing and that “more than 90 per cent of the world’s major marine fish stocks are classified by the United Nations as fully exploited, overexploited or significantly depleted”, I made it an ongoing donation.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
Wrong priorities on building homes
Your article “Council determined to keep coast clear as sea levels threaten” (5/11) raises three points. The first two, the concern about overbuilding the existing amenity and developing land subject to future inundation, are no-brainers. Moving Balwyn to the sea and building it below the future king tide surge certainly warrants regulation. The third, unspoken point, in these times of a desperate housing crisis, is the building of holiday homes at all. Shouldn’t we be building the permanent homes first?
John Mosig, Kew
Is a thank you so hard?
The Liberal Party is extraordinary in its lack of self-awareness. While Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is in China trying to restore Australia’s trade partnership so ineptly wrecked by the Morrison government people like opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham are out telling anyone who’ll listen that the trade sanctions weren’t fair in the first place and that Albanese should accept nothing less than the immediate removal of them by yesterday.
Seriously, would it be too hard to say thanks Albo for trying to fix our mess? Rhetorical question.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
The thoroughness and scope of the article on gifted children ″I don’t think of it as a gift″ (5/11) was exceptional in what is a minefield of opinions on the subject. It revealed, however, how far we have yet to go when the view is put that great teachers and great schools will find and bring out the gifted element within every child. Not so. Such schools and teachers will identify and then develop challenging constructs within the program they provide. Not an easy task and certainly misunderstood and unsupported in most schools.
The assertion all children are potentially gifted and parental effort combined with coaching will bring out giftedness further feeds into the myth that continues to restrain opportunities for the special needs of gifted people. The misunderstanding of bureaucrats, school leadership, unions and too many teachers needs to be addressed.
Geoff Warren, ex-principal,
More terraces please
Seeing so many aerial views of condensed housing, where each home has its own block of land but the walls of each house are almost touching, and certainly little backyard, I cannot understand why some architects haven’t considered reverting back to terrace housing, with a back lane for rubbish bins and cars.
Generally many don’t have time for garden maintenance due to work pressures so the terrace houses could be a great alternative.
Pauline Mackenzie, Marshall
Private has been best
There is no doubt that mental health issues are contributing to the increased school absence/refusal rates (″How COVID created a ‘maturity gap’ among teenagers″, 4/11). However, look a bit further and it is likely that for many young people at government schools the disruptive classrooms, didactic teaching, a lack of practical resources (for art, science, technology etc) and stressed teachers who don’t have time to provide individual attention is also at play.
COVID showed that there were alternatives to physically attending school – and if young people feel that school is not adding value, or is wasting their time, then they stay home (or go virtual). This was the experience of our daughters who were increasingly missing full or part days at their (high-performing) government school. They were bored and fed up with unruly classes and good teachers leaving. Their teachers didn’t know their strengths and weaknesses, nor were they proactive in helping them to be the best they could. My girls are competent students, but they felt invisible. They were fortunate to move to a private school mid-year.
They now have agency, feel they belong, are known, are contributing, are being challenged and are learning. It’s expensive but every child deserves an education like this. There has been one day of absence since the move and it wasn’t because they didn’t want to go to school.
Kathryn Paterson, Balwyn
ADHD a ‘symptom’
As an audiologist who has worked with babies and young children for more than 30 years I share Professor Jon Jureidini’s concerns regarding the Senate inquiry into ADHD (″Dissent by doctors over ADHD claims″, 4/11).
In that time babies have not changed, but their environment, beginning with how they are parented, has changed significantly. I agree with the inquiry that there is an urgent need for support – so where is the primary level support such as the PPPs (Positive Parenting Programs), affordable and accessible to all socioeconomic groups, that can provide such a good start in a child’s life before we need to find increasingly hard to access psychologists/psychiatrists?
However, I have to disagree that rigorous investigation is always being made before a diagnosis is made. I regularly take medical histories on these children, even young adults, and find that obvious concerns, such as poor sleep have not even been considered, let alone investigated. As the Critical Psychiatry Network Australasia has said, very often ADHD is the ″symptom, not the disease″.
I am a consultant psychiatrist and agree with the points raised by Professor Jon Jureidini. There are many psychiatrists and other medical professionals who have concerns about the rapid increase in diagnosis of ADHD.
There is also a large body of research literature that finds evidence of overdiagnosis.
There is a need for ongoing respectful debate on the issue within the Australian community but readers should understand that there is a sizeable portion of Australian psychiatrists who have concerns about the rapid rise in ADHD diagnosis and ADHD medication prescriptions.
Dr Malcolm Forbes,
After the war, what then?
There has been little discussion in the Gaza conflict on Gaza’s post-war future.
Assuming that Israel will win – at whatever cost – questions arise such as:
Who will govern Gaza? If Israel, then it must accept responsibility to rebuild – something surely beyond its economic capacity and so it would be handballed to the US, to Ukraine’s disadvantage and Putin’s delight.
Will it attempt to reoccupy with settlers? If it walks away and accept no responsibility for the destruction nothing has been achieved save sowing the seeds for another war and hate-filled generation.
Perhaps if the Palestinians and Gazans were treated with respect and neighbourliness the appeal of Hamas would lose its attraction.
Roger Holdway, Sorrento
No moral high ground
We are forever being reminded by many and varied sources of the atrocities committed by Hamas on about 1400 Israelis and the abduction of increasing numbers of hostages now at about 249. What we are not being constantly reminded of is the increasing numbers of Palestinian civilians now numbering more than 8000 who have died as a result of the bombings of Gaza, including refugee centres. No one has the right to the moral high ground in this extremely tragic time.
Leave legacy alone
Am I alone in thinking that your musical experts (4/11) were too caught up in the technological cleverness of the Beatles’ post-mortem song release? So much so that they lost sight of the need to critically assess its fundamental creativity and musicality. Personally, I found Now and Then rather bland and soporific. My suggestion in regard to John Lennon’s monumental musical legacy is to please, “Let it Be”.
Robert Enker, Caulfield North
Yesterday is OK
The disdain of Millennials that correspondents (Letters, 5/11) mention for old-fashioned and worthless artefacts of times past contrasts well with Sir Paul McCartney.
The Beatles are gone, but their creative accomplishments survive. As does Paul’s ageing Hofner violin bass – the same one my sister held in ’60s London while he signed her autograph book.
Our survival relies upon renouncing the disposable, fleeting and transient.
Many might see that famous instrument as hinting at sustainability – probably won’t be painted a fashionable, glossy black.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham
Fuel for action
In the lead-up to COP 28 at the end of this month, healthcare professionals from around the world have released a letter that highlights the gravity of the health threat posed by the continued use of fossil fuels. The letter calls for a ″full and rapid phase-out of fossil fuels″ (coal, oil and gas) as the most significant way to provide the clean air, water, and environment that are foundational to good health.
It calls for a just and equitable energy transition, with a redirection of fossil fuel funding and subsidies to investment in a healthy future for all. The letter is critical of ″unreliable and inadequate solutions″ such as carbon capture and storage. And it states clearly that fossil fuel interests and lobbyists should have no role at climate negotiations such as the COP meetings.
Richard Barnes, Canterbury
The immigration flaws
Supercharging population growth through high immigration is inflationary. If this is a factor in the decision by the RBA to increase interest rates, it is yet another argument against the unsustainable growth model of a big Australia.
Columnist Ross Gittins recently stated that an increased GDP resulting from high immigration does not flow onto a higher per capita GDP. The benefits accrue to business, but not to the average person. And the downsides of unsustainable growth are numerous.
I am all in favour of immigration where there is a genuine skills shortage that cannot be filled in Australia. I am, however, not in favour of bailing out businesses that have failed to plan, have not invested in their workforce and are not willing to pay market wages.
AND ANOTHER THING
Having alienated its shareholders, customers and workforce, Qantas still appears to be unable to read the room. Angry shareholders voted solidly against the executive pay plan. Is it possible that the shareholders are thinking about outsourcing the board?
Gary Roulston, Endeavour Hills
The Qantas board are quite oblivious to the ill feeling in the community against them.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill
Hamas leaders and Israel’s right-wing coalition should all be declared war criminals by the International Criminal Court.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill
Hamas could just release the hostages.
Anne Kennedy, Surrey Hills
Loved your correspondent (Letters, 5/11) explaining how his family of dairy farmers recognised each of their cows by sight and had a name for each of them. All I can say is ″cowabunga″.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine
The steep decline in demand for wild-mushroom fettuccine probably isn’t confined to a Leongatha pub, nor for wild mushrooms generally (“Focus back on Leongatha after mushroom kill charges”, 5/11).
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
I must protest about an answer in the Sunday Superquiz. In Australia, the “smallest room in the house” is not the bathroom, it is the toilet.
Jillian Abery, Warranwood
I hope that the programmers of AI do not incorporate into the many individual machines that no doubt will be built a code of “survival at any cost”. We do not need any more conflict on our planet.
Winston Anderson, Mornington
Some wish the Beatles would let it be, others that they should get back to where they belong. For me, it is strawberry fields forever.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading
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