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Greater Sydney Commission: Conflict of interest for planners can be avoided

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The Better Planning Network is correct in its recommendation against combining strategic roles with approval functions at the Greater Sydney Commission ("Concern over conflict of interest with dual positions", April 3). The district commissioners were nominated by the local councils to be the people who understood local issues.

To now find that they cannot talk to local communities about planning matters as it could conflict with their role as chair of the district planning panel alienates them from their community. A better approach would be for the government to appoint independent chairs of the planning panels as happens everywhere else in the state.

Chris Johnson CEO Urban Taskforce

Standards discriminatory

David de Carvalho puts a good spin on the new minimum literacy standards ("Busting some of the HSC literacy and numeracy myths", April 3). However, the new policy discriminates against dyslexics who usually get minimal disability provisions for NAPLAN and the HSC. Many dyslexic kids currently in high school had minimal support to improve their literacy standards throughout their school life. I have a dyslexic son in year 9 and we have spent thousands of dollars on external programs. Spending considerable time trying to pass the literacy test in the high pressure HSC years will be a killer. These reforms are discriminatory unless we fund effective primary school literacy programs. For us the new standards are just a big stick at the end of a long journey we tried our best to negotiate in the dark.

Wendy Yeomans Woronora

Shortsighted decision

Craig Forbes asks why the Dan Murphy's bottle shop development proceeded knowing full well that the site was under consideration for resumption by WestConnex and suggested that only minimal compensation be paid as a consequence (Letters, April 3). Perhaps it's because Dan Murphy's thought, as the rest of us did, that even WestConnex would not be so shortsighted as to try and use that site for the proposed 'dive-site'. Darley Road is narrow, congested and potholed. Traffic snarls are now at least a kilometre long each morning as traffic waits to get on to the Citywest Link at Leichhardt. It simply will not manage additional traffic which is reportedly upwards of 200 trucks a day. The road is also a well-known black spot for accidents. To increase the risks to human life by adding such a large number of trucks would be unconscionable.

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Janet Peters Leichhardt

Lacking morality

Mark Porter (Letters, April 3) puts forward a simplistic account linking increasing sexual abuse with our "godless" society. This ignores the fact that the most violent and abhorrent acts of sexual abuse in Australia were committed by men totally committed to God, and occurred well prior to our present state of "godlessness". The Brothers who abused boys in Western Australian institutions such as Bindanoon and Clontarf in the 1940s and 50s went to mass daily, went to confession often, said the rosary regularly, and fasted earnestly in Lent. They had a powerful sense of the sacred, but it was disconnected from the morally abhorrent sexual violence they perpetrated. I am always happy to see an increased sense of the sacred but where it is disconnected from a genuine grasp of morality it simply perpetuates the problem rather than provides a solution.

Neil Ormerod Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University

Looking the other way

I suspect embarrassment was also a factor in the softening of Julie Bishop's condemnation of Rodrigo Duterte ("We turn a blind eye to regional atrocities", April 3). Not only has Australia looked the other way over other human rights abuses in our region, but arguably we have been responsible for more than our share.

The illegal detention and abuse of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, is a permanent stain on our record. Though out of the headlines now, these innocents remain a stark reminder of Australia's shame. The Government's "detailed reasoning" for our own abuses angered many of us, and did nothing to prevent swift condemnation from the UNHCR. I wouldn't even know where to begin on our mistreatment of Indigenous Australians.

Graham Lum North Rocks

Generational rebirth

Benjamin T. Jones ("Derided 'snowflake' generation deserves a break", April 3) tells us that the millennial generation cares about equality, has a desire to live in an inclusive society and genuinely rejects discrimination. Funny that, I recall exactly the same sentiments and motivations at uni in the 1960s. What went wrong?

George Marsh Clontarf

Taking a step too far

Are you serious? What a waste of time and money to paint lines down the centre of footpaths (Letters, April 3). Will we also have to use hand signals if we wish to overtake?

Bea Hodgson Gerringong

Other reasons for suicide

I was relieved to read Anne Summers article ("Mental illness is not the only reason behind suicide", April 1-2). I We bandy too much under the banner of mental illness when other issues that affect suicide such as immaturity, the inability to accept responsibility, the need for support and kindness are ignored.

Jenny Stephenson Wollongong

Plugging the leaks

An eminent legal opinion says Centrelink has broken the law by releasing personal data of a client to the press (Herald, April 3). Who then is responsible for the widespread "leaking" of email addresses and mobile phone numbers? Where did the NSW Premier's office obtain my mobile phone number and then use it to invade my privacy for political purposes? I also receive many unsolicited calls from charities – where do they obtain, or I suspect buy, my number?

Stephanie Edwards Wollstonecraft

Politicians must heed sage Ross Gittins

How do we make our politicians read, and truly listen to, Ross Gittins? ("Politicians addicted to appearance of economic success", April 3).

Pia Byrne Woolloomooloo

Long-serving Labor politician Clyde Cameron told us the aim of every politician is to get into power and to stay in power. Mr Gittins' article attests to this conviction. My second thoughts were of the classic British series Yes Minister. When the minister and then-prime minister, Paul Eddington, was desperate to get himself over a hurdle Sir Humphrey, his chief of staff, would inevitably rush in at the last minute with a plan to save him from some mishap. I'm sure Sir Humphrey wold have talked his PM out of "Snowy 2.0" if he'd come up with this scheme.

Lorraine Nelson Frenchs Forest

Mehajer never minor

Even if you can't put a name to the face, as long as Sam is holding the phone you'll still be able to identify him from the large engraved lettering ("Focus back on Mehajer after alleged assault at casino", April 3).

Allan Gibson Cherrybrook

Living in Legoland

The photo of Sydney on the front page of the Herald today ("Sydney, the only way is up", April 3) reminds of a city that belongs in Legoland.

Peter Skrzynecki Eastwood

Slow-motion road rage

Yes, I know it was a wet Monday morning but it's no excuse for a nine kilometre journey to take 90 minutes (and yes, I know I could walk it in that time at a moderate pace). To pay for this privilege on Sydney Buses (or the lack thereof) adds insult to injury.

Michelle Willoughby Naremburn

No case for 'outrageous' sale of land titles office

Let me get this right, the NSW Land and Property Information office generates $190 million a year in revenue and $130 million in profit, and is being sold under a 35-year lease for $2 billion ("Offshore bidders move on land titles", April 3). A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation using a discount factor of 4 per cent (the NSW TCorp 2030 yield of 3.33 per cent with a generous add-on), the net present value (reflecting the erosion of money over time) of these cash flows totals $3.74 billion and $2.56 billion for the revenue and profit flows respectively. NSW is being dudded out of hundreds of millions. Are our politicians and the bureaucrats asleep at the wheel? The news that this annual revenue may be directed to offshore tax havens just rubs salt into the wound.

Michael Cunningham Castlecrag

Credit is due to Registrar General Jeremy Cox for throwing some light on the shadowy privatisation of the NSW Land and Property Information service (Letters, April 3). However, like the government, he has failed to give any reasons for the sale, or the justification for the abandonment of hundreds of years' worth of in-house expertise.

Peter Mahoney Oatley

The more information that becomes to light on the impending privatisation of the NSW land titles office, the more outrageous this sale looks. This organisation makes a substantial profit, so there can be no business case for the sale. But more importantly there is a very strong possibility that our personal data and security will be compromised. This greedy sale of a government monopoly is another example of robbing future generations for short-term gain. Surely this sale is intrinsically wrong. It endangers a world-class system that protects our land holdings and hits at the very heart of our way of government.

David Catchlove Newport

With many alarm bells ringing, our government must not sell out control of the LPI office for expediency that may lead to higher future costs and profits for tax-haven-shielded companies. A lose-lose for Australia.

Cecile Hunt Paddington

The letter from the Registrar General attempting to justify the sale of the NSW land and property service simply emphasises the futility of the whole enterprise. So there will be checks and penalties for the purchaser. This simply means the people of NSW retain all of the responsibilities and none of the benefits of this most profitable enterprise. If this is the case why bother doing it?

The secrecy and subterfuge engaged in by the government throughout this whole enterprise means that no one who uses the service can ever have any real faith that land titles will always be safe and secure. In addition, there is no way of knowing whether the sale has in any way benefited the people of NSW who stand to lose so much. Maybe a future state government should look at legislation mandating the full disclosure of all financial details of purchases and sales by government departments. "Commercial in confidence" can conceal a multitude of follies.

Sue Jay Drummoyne

Both your front-page article and Registrar General Jeremy Cox's letter seem to agree that the land titles office is definitely going to be leased for 35 years. I can accept Mr Cox's assurance that controls are in place but unfortunately governments' record, whether Coalition or Labor, on exercising control over private enterprise is not exactly brilliant. Look at vocational training and the hollowing out of TAFE. But what I really think is risible is that the large amount of money being raised is to be spent on replacing already existing sports stadiums. Why not housing, education or transport which provide the sinews of our society?

Hugo Zweep Austinmer

During the weekend I heard on ABC radio an NRL coach could be earning a million-dollars-plus for a season. Surely if sporting bodies have this much spare cash they could contribute to sporting stadium redevelopment instead of privatising the LPI office.

Robyn Lewis Raglan

Why should the LPI office go down this path - with its well documented inherent risks - given that we have had the "best" land titles system that has never let the people or government of NSW down. The regulatory procedures are already in place and well established. Nothing about it is broken. Why now should we lease the operations and re-invent the regulatory functions?

Ross Michael Cleary Bexley North

Housing crisis: curb migration and populate the regions

Another, almost daily, tear-inducing Sydney experience: leaving home on Saturday at 11.15am and arriving at Walsh Bay at 1:30pm. A distance of around 20 kilometres takes over two hours! Tony Walker's reasoned article ("Sacred cows need slaughtering when discussing housing crisis", April 3) resonates.

The time is well overdue for penetrating discussion about optimum population distribution in this nation. Current chaotic planning must be conceded and acknowledged. The answers are not found in increasing high-density housing and flogging off valuable public assets (they are not the governments' to sell). The solutions will be found in visionary, long-term, reasoned strategic planning. As Walker suggests, can we talk about fast-train corridors with growth of regional centres like Goulburn, Bathurst and Newcastle, meshed with mature discussion regarding current levels of net overseas migration. Can we? Please?

James Laukka Epping

Tony Walker's article is alarming about the bubble numbers for housing prices in Sydney and Melbourne. He is also right in saying that a major contributing factor is the huge amount of net immigration. This is the real bubble that is forever expanding as Australia continues to maintain the second-highest immigration intake of any OECD country. The housing crisis is the first and most obvious canary.

The fact that the Australian bureau of statistics in 2002 failed to correctly predict the country's population a mere 15 years ahead (26.4 million by 2051 yet we are already at 24.5 million) is great cause for alarm. How can our population policy be formulated correctly if the politicians aren't informed correctly? What is the urgency to overpopulate Australia and who is driving the numbers?

Peter Neufeld Mosman

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