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Labor, too, must put costings up for early scrutiny

Date

LETTERS

<i>Illustration: Kerrie Leishman</i>

Illustration: Kerrie Leishman

Julia Gillard says her early announcement of the election date was not intended to create the longest election campaign in Australian history, but to clearly define the campaign period so she could get on with governing in the meantime (''Gillard's long shot on poll'', January 31).

I have since seen Wayne Swan and Simon Crean interviewed and both have said the opposition should now put out its policy costings. Did Swan and Crean not understand what Gillard said? Or did they get a different memo?

And why must we wait for the government to bring down its budget in May before Swan meets his own test of transparency?

Ingrid Hawke Millers Point

The longest election campaign ever. Hardly. Tony Abbott, complete with hard hat and fluoro vest, has been electioneering for the past 2½ years.

John Truman Chatswood

The Prime Minister's announcing of a September 14 election date is the most eloquent and unambiguous ''put up or shut up'' to Tony Abbott that I have ever seen.

So that all we swinging voters in Sydney's western electorates can start our comparisons, it is now up to Abbott and the Greens and others to convert their platitudes, ''aspirations'', ''visions'', etc, into specific and measurable policies with credible and independent costings and savings. This must be done without delay if any aspiring party wishes to be seen as credible.

Jon Hillman Yagoona

Good news, bad news. Good that I now have time to organise four weeks' annual leave overseas in the lead-up to the election; bad that we have to suffer the lengthy strategic remodelling and reinvention of two disliked leaders, endless political point-scoring, excessive media coverage and cheerless advertisements.

They haven't yet started and I'm already sick of them.

Paul Ainsworth Seaforth

Now the election date has been announced, can we please start postal voting? Most of us have made up our mind, so we can mail our vote and ignore the longest nightmare in history.

Malcolm Auld North Manly

During the republic debate, Tony Abbott was notorious for stating, ''You can't trust a politician.''

Now he is asking that the Australian people trust him to be prime minister. Abbott is a politician. By his own say he cannot be trusted. QED.

Peter Makeig Millfield

We won't be getting an intelligent election campaign. That would be too much to ask for. We'll be getting another calculated fear campaign, one that targets an electorate of self-centred egos ("Abbott's first pitch evokes memories of a leader from the past", January 31). I want to spend the year in la-la land.

Robyn Williams Robertson

Congratulations to Julia Gillard on resolutely announcing the election date for September, allowing the government to run full term, as she has always said it would. It is horrifying to think of the many thousands of words of speculation that would be printed over the coming months without this certainty.

Whether Gillard and the Labor Party win the election or not, I hope the media will have the honesty to look back on all the good legislation which this government has passed, including very importantly the carbon tax, so necessary for our future existence on this planet.

Patricia Cameron Lennox Head

Thanks, Prime Minister. Now all the P&C associations can plan their sausage sizzles and cake stalls at schools that are election booths. Makes for much better fund-raising planning.

Teresa Russell Putney

The Prime Minister's announcement that the federal election will be held on September 14 shows at the very least a grievous insensitivity, and at worst, utter contempt for Jewish Australians.

While it is true that the most observant Jewish Australians will never vote on polling day, because it always falls on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, it is nevertheless also true that the majority of Jewish Australians do vote in person at polling booths.

The government's decision means not only will there be virtually no Jewish voters participating in person, but there will be no Jewish returning officers, no Jewish poll clerks, no Jewish scrutineers and no Jewish volunteers manning party stands. This is a sad decision for Australians.

Peter Krug Killara

As a Port Macquarian, I now at least know my member's last day in the federal Parliament.

Jan Miller Port Macquarie

Removalists must be hard to come by in Canberra. Why else would Julia Gillard book eight months in advance by announcing a September 14 election date?

Stephen Hunt Sydney

My husband observed on Wednesday night that Julia Gillard had Cate Blanchett's glasses on. Lo and behold, your back page on Thursday verified this, as there was our Cate without any.

Suzanne Wicks Potts Point

What gives Nana Mouskouri the right to call Australian federal elections? Surely, she has enough problems in Greece to be getting on with.

As an aside, somebody should probably suggest she give up the cigarettes as I am not sure that voice could carry off Never on a Sunday quite the way it used to.

Steven Prentice Ermington

 

Truckies' sleep apnoea makes train best option

The most terrifying news story of the week for anyone who drives at night on the Great Western Highway is your report of a survey showing that around half of the 1000 truck drivers studied suffered from sleep apnoea (''Sleep apnoea threatens to put many truckies asleep at the wheel, court told'', January 31). The prospect that any of the large transports and B-Doubles that hurtle along this road, often in packs and over the speed limit, could be piloted by someone likely to nod off, suggests that venturing out by car at night has become a contemporary form of Russian roulette. Think I'll stick to the train.

Gillian Appleton Leura

Your readers might like to know that responsible transport companies monitor the sleep apnoea status of their staff through pre-employment checks, regular medical assessments and monitoring any obvious weight increases. Any detected concerns are referred to a specialist to be managed by the employee and a doctor.

Drivers with sleep apnoea will begin a management program and will experience a noticeable improvement in their life and fatigue far less readily.

There are two keys to making this more widespread in the transport industry: responsible customers demanding, and being prepared to pay for, apnoea programs within the carriers they use and affected drivers understanding that it is not a sign of weakness to be under a sleep management program.

Peter Davis Hornsby Heights

 

Best show in town

It was standing room only at ICAC on Thursday (''Moses Obeid tells ICAC how family stood to benefit from minister's decisions'', smh.com.au, January 31). If you weren't a barrister, someone holding a tape of secret phone recordings or an Obeid, you couldn't get a seat to view proceedings.

So in order to accommodate the public demand for ringside seats to this fabulous post-Festival of Sydney event, ICAC will have to choose a much larger venue.

Let's move the whole ICAC circus to the Entertainment Centre.

After all, ICAC is the centre of entertainment right now.

The Entertainment Centre can handle 15,000 people, a necessary capacity if all the Obeids are called to give evidence in one day. And seeing as the Entertainment Centre is being pulled down shortly, it won't matter if the place is damaged by any verbal fisticuffs or tremors caused by uncomfortable shifting in the seat from the witness box.

Ian Watson Watsons Bay

 

Work, live locally

Valerie Reynolds (Letters, January 31) recognises commuting time as a deterrent to moving away from the inner suburbs.

We should be asking why so many jobs are focused in the city.

Developments such as Norwest Business Park have demonstrated that large corporations can successfully move west. Many of us living in the area are now working locally as a result.

I have never understood the logic of moving half the population into the city every morning and then moving them back out at night.

Surely businesses could be encouraged to move to the outer suburbs via financial incentives. This would reduce pressure on transport systems as well providing workers with access to affordable housing close to work.

Problem solved.

Anne Kirman Kellyville

 

Little children with big ideas

Love the piece on children's ambitions (''When I grow up I want to be a … '', January 31). It is a bit startling to think that young Alexander Riviere with his ''eye on bigger things'' might have the ambition to be THE creator. Can't get bigger than that.

Trevor Kruger Blue Bay

Interesting that the kids featured didn't mention being a politician.

Allan Gibson Cherrybrook

 

Head of the class

The Herald reported the new Redfern Jarjum School, as an all-Aboriginal urban primary school, was believed to be the ''first of its kind'' (''Fresh start with new school on the block'', January 29). St Andrew's Cathedral School has been operating Gawura, an all-Aboriginal urban primary school, in Sydney for six years. We welcome Jarjum to this field; the need is great in the effort to close the gap on the scandalous lag in indigenous educational outcomes.

Dr John Collier head, St Andrew's Cathedral Gawura School, Glebe

 

Cost of stupidity

I'm sure every emergency worker could tell tales of people putting themselves in harm's way unnecessarily (''Rescuers frustrated by stormwater risk takers'', January 30). I worked in emergency services for 20 years and many call-outs were in response to people deliberately disobeying road signs, instructions, or abandoning commonsense.

Surely legislation could be introduced that would make it possible to retrieve some of the expenses involved in rescuing these people from their own stupidity if they have been given a reasonable direction not to proceed.

This may serve as a slight deterrent and help towards paying for the equipment used even if it does nothing to prevent the risk of injury and/or death to those rescuers who are obliged to put themselves in harm's way to assist.

Peter Moore Forbes

 

Mundine, deck the whingeing

Anthony Mundine should follow the lead of Julia Gillard and nominate a definitive date as to when he will stop whingeing about being beaten by Daniel Geale (''Shattered Mundine says he won't quit'', smh.com.au, January 31).

Mike Kenneally Balmain

If Anthony Mundine actually thinks he won that fight he got hit harder than we thought.

Craig Moore Bondi Beach

 

Done over and over

There must be a lot of smart crooks out there if they were able to frame Craig Thomson 150 times ("Craig Thomson arrested by fraud squad", January 31).

Peter Miniutti Ashbury

 

Chop the choppers

Cost cutting at Channel Seven and Nine invariably means job cuts and much unhappiness all around (''Jobs to go at Nine as Seven axes shows'', January 31).

However, taking the axe to the helicopter service of the respective channels would make the lives of most Sydneysiders a lot more enjoyable.

Cornelius van der Weyden Balmain

 

Perils of advocacy

Bob Vinnicombe (Letters, January 31) strikes a low blow in his suggestion feminists could stop the exploitation of Asian women if only they were ''sincere'' about doing so. I recall when Professor Gail Dines, a feminist who has written extensively about the convergence of racial and sexual exploitation, visited Australia for a media tour, she was treated with galling disrespect and subjected to belittling questions, such as being asked, on Q&A, whether she was ''a wowser''.

Thea Gumbert Alexandria

 

Tax break a bit rich

I love how the old "us and them" and "class warfare" lines are trotted out as soon as anyone dares to suggest cracking down on any of the perks of the wealthy (Letters, January 31).

Why on earth should the vast majority of taxpayers have to contribute towards overly generous superannuation tax concessions that benefit only a very small minority of wealthy Australians, but which are now costing the public purse more than $32 billion a year? It will be interesting to listen to Tony Abbott explain to us all why he will keep these concessions in place - as he undoubtedly will.

Ian Newman Castlecrag

 

In joyful silence

Mark Anderson (Letters, January 30), what a brilliant suggestion - for Australia not to have an anthem. Imagine that wonderful gift to the world - instead of belting out an anthem with lyrics few people know (and those who do know are embarrassed by) the Olympic announcement could be: "The winner is Australia and on its behalf we give you three minutes of glorious silence."

Yes, please.

Allan Roberts Marrickville

 

Australia the unfair

We can debate whether the Australia of the anthem is blonde or beautiful (Letters January 30 and 31), but as long as it locks up asylum seekers, puts the child deckhands of their boats into adult jails, imprisons those who fail secret ASIO assessments and throws away the key, there is no way you'd describe the place as ''fair''.

Jeffrey Mellefont Coogee

 

Great gonzos unite

A manifesto from Mr Warne (''Plenty of jobs for the boys in Warne's manifesto'', January 31)? Doesn't sound right to me. Perhaps he should call it his ''Muppetfesto''. Now that has a ring to it.

Nick Crowley Seaforth

 

Mental health checks could save pupils

I was very interested to read Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley's article (''Nexus between school life and mental illness sets course for later life'', January 30).

My beautiful 23-year-old daughter took her own life two weeks ago as a consequence of a severe depressive illness dating back, unknown to us, to her later years at high school. In hindsight we can see some signs. As part of the depression she also developed a serious eating disorder.

Perhaps some of that ''wasted'' time at the end of year 10 could be used to conduct some sort of mental health check of students - a mammoth task, I know, given the complete lack of resources in public schools; even non-government schools would struggle to see all students individually.

And, of course, many, like my daughter, would probably not open themselves up straight away.

However, all my children did ''aptitude tests'' in high school, which didn't really offer anything useful. This other idea would be better.

I was also pleased to see that the commission will take note of carers' experiences in creating its ''blueprint for reform of mental health services''.

While completely understanding the concept of patient confidentiality, not one of the health professionals involved in the crisis care of my daughter made any effort to contact us, either to inform us as to what was happening to her or to ask for any insight we might (and would) have had.

She lived with us, we loved her to the ends of the earth and back and no one asked us anything.

Name and address withheld

Lifeline 13 11 14

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