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No sign Gladys Berejiklian understands the population challenge

There is no sign Gladys the Likeable understands that exponential population growth brings exponential growth in the complexity and difficulty of governing ("Gladys Berejiklian declares housing affordability 'the biggest issue'", smh.com.au, January 23). Last week Mike the Likable made it clear that the current infrastructure frenzy, with all its costs and disruption, was only good for a single generation. There's no end in sight.

Ray Johnson Bondi Beach

The people of this state need to give a big thank you to Carmen, Joan, Kristina, Kate, Anna, Anastacia and Julia. Remarkable women in politics, who withstood all the gender-based vitriol and have made the inevitable ascendance of Gladys, an unremarkable event, as it should be.

Phillip Edwards Mortdale

Let us not forget that our new Premier was transport minister when the North West Metro was planned and built as a single decker train, with different tracks, the tunnels having no room for double decker trains, and the line to finish in Chatswood, with passengers using the already busy north shore line to get to the city. And the Epping to Chatswood line will be closed for at least seven months for the new gauge to be fitted. Why, oh, why build two separate lines in one city?

Selwyn Suchet St Ives

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With Casino Mike gone, perhaps the Be Kind to Casinos policy will be gone too.

Pen Layton-Caisley Marrickville

I count myself as one of the new Premier's fans ("'She won't be Mike, she'll be Glad. People tend to like Glad'", January 23). If for no other reason than she introduced the "quiet car" on trains. She went further up in my estimation following Alan Jones' spray last Friday. The broadcaster, who clearly has ideas above his (radio) station, fancies himself as a kingmaker. His "I come to bury Jiklian not to praise her" outburst cemented my position in the Gladys camp.

Garth Clarke North Sydney

Ideas aplenty on housing here in Australia, Scott Morrison

Treasurer Scott Morrison is going to Britain to seek guidance on Australia's housing affordability crisis ("Morrison eyes UK solution to housing affordability", January 23). No need. All that is required is to raise the marginal rate of the capital gains tax to the level it was before September 1999. Within a few years the affordability problem will then disappear automatically.

Greg McCarry Epping

The Treasurer is barking up the wrong tree in going to the UK in regard to housing. The UK is where the term "social cleansing" was coined by none other than Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London. He used the term to describe the Tory government's policies on housing. Nothing much has changed since those times and housing prices are massive in London still. Morrison should study the history of how post-war Australia solved its housing crisis and put those successful policies into action again. This would save the taxpayers a lot of money and achieve real action on housing.

Denis Doherty Glebe

Great to see the federal government at last accepts the need to make rental housing more affordable on lower incomes. The NSW government also needs to act – current draft plans of the Greater Sydney Commission offer affordability targets that are far too low – much lower than cities from London to New York and Adelaide have already achieved.

One of the best things our new Premier could do would be to ensure that every time a new rezoning happens it's on condition that at least 15 per cent – and 30 per cent if on government land – is offered at low-income-affordable rents. This should be locked in by law, not left to discretion and excuse. Failure to address this will widen social inequality, break up families and shatter diverse communities.

Stafford Sanders Gladesville

Good to see that the Treasurer is looking at big scale funding issues for affordable housing. It is only through government support, through bonds or tax incentives, that the private sector will be able to realistically provide affordable homes in the numbers needed. Some commentators seem to think that private developers should provide 20 per cent of new housing as affordable with no incentive given. A government bond vehicle will encourage the market to provide the thousands of lower cost homes that are needed over the long term. Let's hope Scott Morrison comes back with some big ideas that he can implement.

Chris Johnson chief executive Urban Taskforce

It is to be hoped Scott Morrison's trip to the UK does lead to better funding for housing for "disadvantaged households" in Australia. Combine that with abolishing negative gearing and tax concessions for established housing and we might really be getting somewhere.

Norman Carter Roseville Chase

Anything the Treasurer says or does about this "extraordinarily high priority" should be outed as an empty gesture. The horse has well and truly bolted. Capital-city house prices already demand daunting multiples of household income.

Yet Scott Morrison's Treasury is defiantly the Department of Rising House Prices. Each budget is locked on to planned population growth around 350,000, planned migration (mainly city-bound) around 200,000, high negative gearing, low capital gains tax, and low interest rates.

Stephen Saunders O'Connor (ACT)

Scott Morrison's trip to the UK to see what they are doing to address housing affordability is too little too late. With house prices having already reached stratospheric levels in Sydney, unless the property bubble breaks it will only be wealthy immigrants who will be able to afford a house. By failing to address the housing shortage earlier and without recognising the boost to prices caused by negative gearing and capital gains, our governments have missed the boat, forever destroying the Australian dream and condemning would-be home buyers to a life of renting.

Peter Nash Fairlight

Tony Recsei (Letters, January 23) warns against confusing correlation with causation when examining the link between housing density and health. However, he has fallen into the trap of confirmation bias: citing a single decade-old study indicating a possible link between high-density and some mental health conditions, but ignoring the wealth of high-quality evidence linking low-density, car-dependence, and numerous physical and mental health conditions.

Also, in claiming that "most people prefer low-density living", he is presenting a false dichotomy: ignoring the happy medium that is medium-density.

Chris Standen Forest Lodge

Bail the easy answer

Based on news reports, the alleged Bourke Street murderer did not need to be locked up in prison, bail refused ("Families shattered, fears rampage death toll will rise", January 23). He needed to be committed to a secure mental hospital, receiving treatment for his illnesses.

Using bail laws as a means of crime prevention is an easy option for governments. It's not an effective one, however, because it requires that a potential offender actually be accused of a crime in order for the bail laws to be applicable.

If the Andrews government, and, indeed, any other government confronted by the same circumstances, really wants to make meaningful reform, they need to look at what can be done to protect us and the offenders themselves, from the consequences of untreated serious mental illness.

Claire Bruce Katoomba

Baird deserves rebuke

Perhaps, Virginia Woods (Letters, January 23), letter writers might have treated Mike Baird with more respect and kindness if he had done the same, and treated them more like his family instead of selling their assets, closing the facilities of those least able to defend themselves and denying them local democracy.

Alynn Pratt Killara

Trump and Putin's values not shared

Tom Switzer, approving, quotes Donald Trump, "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing" ("Detente with Russia is logic, not lapdog", January 23). Of course, if you want a world order based on the exercise of unchecked power and national self-interest, this might follow. But if you want one based on freedom of the press, respect for human rights, government on the basis of the rule of law, and a sense of a global common good, one would still want to hold Putin and Russia at arm's length. Trump and Putin might seek to revert to the national power politics of the 19th century that reached its culmination in two bloody world wars in the 20th. But many of us want to avert such a disaster.

Neil Ormerod Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield

Tom Switzer continues to promote great powers having "orbits" or "spheres of influence" not just as an unwelcome wart on realpolitik, but somehow legitimate. So, presumably, US "rights" to interfere in Central America and the Caribbean are "balanced" by Russian rights over Ukraine and the Baltic nations. These are sovereign, democratic nations, with the same rights as Australia for the people to decide on government policies and alliances.

Switzer's reference to the "Western-backed" Ukrainian "coup" in 2014 fails to mention the president was actually dismissed by a vote of Parliament (so less of a "coup" than Whitlam's dismissal) and Petro Poroshenko subsequently clearly won a popular vote.

If we accept Switzer's view, do we accept China's "rights" in the seas around it?

Al Svirskis Mount Druitt

Political robots

The answer to Malcolm King's question ("Can robots write fiction?", January 23) is "yes" and they are called politicians.

John Lees Castlecrag

Fewer, smarter councils will give best outcome for all

I admire Janet Harwood's support for grassroots democracy; however, my view of local councils and the mergers could not be more different (Letters, January 23). The mergers do not go nearly far enough.

Aside from economic inefficiencies which arise from having many hundreds of councils in a nation of only 23 million inhabitants, I don't share Ms Harwood's view that practical democracy manifests itself in local government.

My experience of voting "locally" (in various municipalities) for more than 40 years is that councils are generally dominated by three groups of elected representatives: property developers or their henchmen who spend large sums campaigning so they can pursue their development ambitions when elected; those climbing the ladder of politics who – supported by one of the major parties – do a stint on council before having a shot at preselection for the local state or federal seat; and those "independents" with an axe to grind about one particular local issue that they wish to see either quashed or promulgated.

If it were up to me I'd have no more than five councils serving greater Sydney and maybe 10 or 12 for the rest of the state. And I'd pay for full-time professional councillors rather than muddle along with a rag-tag bunch of amateurs who may or may not be "well-meaning".

Martyn Yeomans St Ives

President Trump's 2017 equals 1984

Donald Trump and his advisers have given us "alternative facts" ("Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway introduces the world to 'alternative facts'", smh.com.au, January 23). What next? "Replacement realities", "substitute certainties" or "vicarious verification"? And in their mathematics it seems that 2017 actually equals 1984.

Harvey Sanders Paddington

We are at war with Eastasia; we have always been at war with Eastasia.

Todd Hillsley Homebush

The next time you're in court and after the prosecutor has presented the evidence, don't worry if it looks bad; just use alternative facts that suit your version better.

Anthony Malivanek Bray Park

Now President Trump has killed off the TPP Australia's minister Ciobo insists he will nevertheless seek Parliament's approval for Australia's involvement in the TPP ("TPP worth hanging onto: Ciobo", smh.com.au, January 23). Is minister Ciobo the first Australian politician to be infected with the US "alternative fact" syndrome?

Alan Delaney Beverly Hills

Donald Trump is de-legitimising the presidency of Donald Trump.

Scott Ramsay Strathdale

What a bad winner President Trump has turned out to be. Imagine the kafuffle if he had lost.

Gillian Scoular Annandale