Comment

Don't write off dithering Malcolm Turnbull yet

Ross Gittins is saying what many are thinking: that Malcolm Turnbull is squibbing it and looking just like an everyday politician after all ("Turnbull is losing his chance to be a great PM", February 24).

However, Turnbull is brilliant enough to know he doesn't have the economic answers and unlike Tony Abbott he's not going to commit us to inappropriate policies. He has too much respect for what his own intellect is telling him. So he's buying time and vacillating – which is very risky in politics.

Illustration: Alan Moir
Illustration: Alan Moir 

It's a pity his ambition to be prime minister and his innate ability to be a great prime minister weren't matched by his preparedness for the office.

The saddest part of all is that if he did have the right economic plan he'd be able to take the Australian people with him, probably like no one else has.

Illustration: John Shakespeare
Illustration: John Shakespeare 

However, he has no such plan and time is ticking away – but don't write him off yet.

George Finlay Balaclava (Vic)

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One of the obstacles preventing Malcolm Turnbull rising above the pygmy Prime Minister status is that he would have to propose policies that he believes in. Unfortunately, these are Labor policies.

John Truman St Leonards

Given the wishy-washy, please-all, please-none performance of our Prime Minister, I can well understand those longing for a return to firm, fearless leadership in Canberra. By all means, bring back Peta Credlin.

William Franken Rose Bay

More in sadness than anger, Ross Gittins shows that Malcolm Turnbull is either consumed by ambition to stay Prime Minister as long as possible or is nowhere near as bright as many (including himself) think he is.

It might be wise for Australian politicians to take heed of the political developments in North America. A do-nothing government with a huge majority was emphatically dumped in Canada for an opposition promising to do something to match the world in the 21st century, while in the US Bernie Sanders and especially Donald Trump are laying waste to their respective parties.

It may be the political class in Canberra has not yet recognised that rather than leading, they are very much bringing up the rear.

Tony Mitchell Hillsdale

Come on, Malcolm Turnbull, you're in the driver's seat, so put your foot down. Most of us want to see you fulfil your potential. Stop worrying about the opposition and their policies and come up with your own. There are heaps of ways to raise revenue, although most of them should affect the more well-off and the big end of town.

I suspect you are quite aware of this and are afraid of putting them off-side.

Stewart Copper Maroubra

I feel Malcolm Turnbull would genuinely like to introduce taxation reform but is severely hamstrung for fear of a backlash from the right and the big end of town. He should forget them and bite the bullet and introduce real reform aimed at a more equitable distribution of the tax burden. He could then pick up half the Labor vote as compensation.

Brian Collins Cronulla

Unfortunately, I agree with Ross Gittins that Malcolm Turnbull is losing his chance to be a great leader. As a mostly Liberal voter I was pleased when Turnbull deposed Tony Abbott to hear him say he would treat voters as intelligent beings and not resort to three word slogans. But, as Gittins says, Turnbull is now launching into an Abbott scare campaign against Labor's sensible suggestions on negative gearing and capital gains tax. What a shame. I may end up having to vote for Labor if Turnbull keeps on in this unedifying way.

Diana Hazard Woollahra

With the government's obsession with the budget emergency, whether real or contrived, should we not ask who we would prefer as Treasurer, rather than Prime Minister? It seems to me that the current incumbent is still in his car with his family and is still asking "Where the bloody hell are we?" And he hasn't even got to the next two questions: where do we want to be and how do we get there?

Alan Parkinson Weetangera (ACT)

Ross Gittins sees federal politics dominated by "moral pygmies". Brilliant image and and can we please have the T-shirt?

Elizabeth Blackmore Kalaru

Government by captain's pick, followed by no government at all. Makes the carbon tax seem positively inspired.

Peter Leonard Kingscliff

Forget the Senate Stan, the people need you as you are

Stan Grant, please don't join one of the major parties (Letters, February 24). You present as a man of vision and commitment not only to your people but to the greater good of this country. With few exceptions, the major parties are populated by party-machine representatives who appear to have become more interested in retaining their seats than any genuine reform or progress. They will promise you the world and give you nothing. Just ask the Australian people.

Lyn Savage Coogee

Stan Grant has stepped forward as a prominent voice for our indigenous community. He has a positive and reasonable approach.

The only way he can realistically achieve any of his aims is through our national Parliament. If either of our major parties entice him into their fold he will be absorbed into that party's agenda.

He would be a natural partner to Nick Xenophon to their mutual advantage. Just imagine two politicians of principle in the Senate at the same time providing a voice for the under dog.

Brian Greene Neutral Bay

Don't go into politics Stan Grant, it will diminish you. Keep your dignity and keep on inspiring us.

You might do more good just being you.

Jill Power Manly Vale

ACL prefer lies to dealing with reality

The Australian Christian Lobby referred to the decision to review the Safe Schools teaching manual as a win against "rainbow ideology" ("PM accused of buckling over LGBTI school program", February 24). Hardly ideology, just a simple truth. Some people have a sexuality that does not fit into straight male/female stereotype.

The Christian churches hold up the virtue of honesty, however, when it comes to homosexuality and gender diversity, the ACL would rather hear lies and force people back into the closet than deal with the reality.

While ever the likes of Cory Bernadi and the ACL think homosexuality is a perverted lifestyle choice, they will never understand that gay adults start out as gay children. These children need love and support to shield them from this 1950s homophobia.

Owen Torr Redfern

Homophobia is alive and well and I hate it. I also hate bullying. One other thing I hate is people being labelled a homophobe when they simply hold a different view on an issue to the person doing the labelling.

So it couldn't have been more ironic for Bill Shorten, when defending a program supposedly attempting to stop bullying, to label Cory Bernadi a "homophobe" ("At least I'm not a homophobe mate", smh.com.au, February 24). It seems Shorten will stop at nothing to wipe out bullying, even bullying.

Steve Morrison Allambie Heights

It's a bit rich for Malcolm Turnbull, Cory Bernardi and the rest to be instigating an investigation into the Safe School program for supposed indoctrination when they are spending a fortune on funding school chaplains. Indoctrination is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

Nick Hendel Roseville

The federal government's review of the controversial Safe Schools Coalition program is long overdue. This "anti-bullying" program focuses only on students who have homosexual or transgender feelings, or the minuscule percentage who are intersex.

But there are far higher rates of bullying of students who appear different from others, or have high or low school grades, or belong to a minority race or religion. Some of these commit suicide. Where is the million-dollar program to help them?

The Safe Schools Coalition program needs to be completely rewritten. Every student deserves respect.

Roslyn Phillips Tea Tree Gully (SA)

The question is: should Christians allow the secular to go about teaching tolerance?

Rod Hibberd Picton

I see the Australian Christian Lobby is commenting on the decision of Newtown High School regarding their dress code. Last time I saw Cardinal Pell on TV, he was wearing a dress, and I think that many priests and ministers follow his lead in wearing long frocks.

Grahame Burton Hurlstone Park

Profit before public

The news that Coca-Cola is sponsoring research that protects its products, like the news that Exxon supported anti-climate change research for public consumption, shows the problems of academic research being dependent on the business sector for funding, as seems to be inherent in the government's new "innovation nation" policy ("What Coca-Cola isn't telling you about its health funding in Australia", February 24). Pleasing business, or making money for business, is not necessarily always in the public interest. However, it will always be in the interest of profit.

Jon Marshall Lilyfield

Just hanging around

If we discover the bats' secret to lives unaffected by the viruses they carry, and incorporate it into our disease-ridden existences, do we get to spend the rest of our lives just hanging around and flying by the seat of our sonar ("Bats immunity could help humans fight deadly diseases", February 24)?

Helen Bersten Roseville

Vote for smiley face

Stewart Fist (Letters, February 24) is right to see the proposed changes to Senate voting as another step away from voting for individuals and towards voting for parties. But the horse has already well and truly bolted. Even in lower house elections, the majority of people think they're electing a prime minister or a premier. These days, and with all due respect, the local candidate is little more than an anonymous smiley face stuck on the party logo to give it some local flavour. True electoral reform is one of the many elephants in the tally room.

Tom Mangan Woy Woy Bay

Why not Nauru?

Malcolm Turnbull says, "Keeping this facility open is contrary to our values. It undermines our standing in the world. It is viewed as a stain on our broader record."

Full respect, Malcolm! The sign of a great leader is someone prepared to do the right thing, despite opposition. Oh, hang on a minute, that wasn't Malcolm, it was Barack ("Obama outlines plan to close Guantanamo", February 24). Sorry, everyone, as you were.

Annie Gurton Freshwater

Debt disaster threat

I wonder if Jeffrey Mellefont (Letters, February 24) would be so pleased with the prospect of falling house prices if he was a young person who had just managed to purchase a home only to find a year later that his loan was now considerably more than the value of his house. The effect of house price rises and falls varies enormously depending on where a person is in the buy-sell spectrum, regardless of their means. For the less well off, the collapse of their hard-won equity could mean debt disaster.

Alynn Pratt Killara

Tattoos give eyes have it a new meaning

I hope the Minister for Health, Jillian Skinner does not outlaw eye ball colouring and eye ball tattooing ('Appalling' eyeball tattooing legalised by the state, smh.com.au, February 23) Anyone stupid enough to have that done to them may also take ice or engage in other reckless behaviour. What better way for us to identify these people than to watch for a pair of brilliant green or purple eyes approaching. That will give us time to cross to the other side of the road.

Lin Sinton Killarney Heights

Eye ball tattooing, the literal example of beauty is in the eye of the (tattooed) beholder.

Peter Lloyd Asquith

Julie Bishop's "death stare" would be something else if she had her sclera dyed red – she'd win every staring contest.

David Gordon Emu Plains

Missing the next bus

Oh dear! So the man on the Clapham bus will have to decide whether he still wants to remain a milking cow for Brussels, or part of a perhaps greater Britain (The big decision on future of EU, Britain, February 24.) Best of British luck with that one, eh wot, ol' chap.

Roger Cameron Marrickville

Return defies definition

The prospect that Tony Abbott might return as Opposition Leader if Malcolm Turnbull loses the next election (Letters February 24). Now that really does fit the definition of a scare campaign!

Stephanie Edwards Wollstonecraft

Lockouts link tipped

The record loss announced by BHP Billiton can only be attributed to one thing - the Sydney lockouts (BHP to 'buy not build' after dividend cut, February 24)

Patrick McGrath Coogee