Our leaders are lacking vision and voters can tell

I’m over the two-party tribal system. It’s antiquated. No matter where it comes from, talent needs to be given a voice.

If we need more independent voices in Parliament, individuals who possess the wisdom and ability to compromise and work together to advance us as a nation, then they should be given a fair go and supported by the public. – Neville Williams, Darlinghurst

Having read the disturbing articles on the uncommitted voters’ focus group it is clear a large proportion are indifferent or not willing to think about the policies on offer and what their impact will be on our country and society.

The politicians bear responsibility for engaging with the electorate. A good starting point would be to not disparage the campaign process with the usual tired cliches, but engage with the importance of our democratic process and the importance of focusing on policy offerings. – Don Smith, Ashfield

What does it take to engage people; a reality TV-style campaign where candidates are given a rose, voted out or required to bake a cake with only three ingredients? – John Bailey, Canterbury

Peter Hartcher’s drawing on Steve Bannon for “expert” opinion on the Australian election is extremely disappointing (“Parties in slow lane lane, going nowhere”, May 4-5).

Surely Bannon is somebody who should be given no air-time whatsoever. After all, his formula for Trump’s success was simple, but extremely damaging – misinformation, slander, racism and intense and dangerous nationalism. – Alan Morris, Eastlakes

Please no more debates between Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten (“‘You’re a space invader’: Shorten and PM clash in feisty debate”, May 4-5). These are painful to watch and all we hear are the same lines being repeated over and over.

There is nothing more to learn from these vaudeville performers.

If the major parties and the media were really serious about debating policies we would have debates between the relevant ministers and shadow ministers in their portfolio areas with sensible questions being asked by serious journalists. – Phil Peak, Dubbo

Invading someone’s personal space, as the PM did in the leaders’ debate is really an attempt to intimidate the other person. It’s neither a very good look, nor an effective tactic. – Merilyn McClung, Forestville

Deborah Snow’s article paints a picture of Scott Morrison as a God-fearing, good bloke who speaks well, but seems to lack the quality of “deep reflection” (“Playing to win”, May 4-5).

There is only one question we need to ask when comparing him to Bill Shorten. Which man cares more deeply about what happens to the less fortunate? – Tom Orren, Wamberal Heights

Potshots at Folau won’t lead to understanding and growth

Praise for Dawn Grace-Cohen for a rare piece of nuanced balance around this issue (“Silencing Folau with queer fascism betrays gay victory”, May 4-5).

Polemic potshots from the sidelines do nothing to advance our understanding of those with whom we disagree.

No one could argue that Israel Folau is being true to himself and his faith. His posts reference an extract from a book that has shaped the world view of countless, and in that respect his views can’t be dismissed as “hate speech”.

We grow as humans by testing our long-held beliefs against those that we find an anathema. This, of course, applies to Folau himself as much as it does to his critics. – Ronald Proft, North Epping

I wish your correspondent would not draw parallels where none exist. Christians consciously following their faith are well aware of the commented upon differences that this choice may engender (Letters, May 4-5).

Those of LGBTQI sexual orientation have no choice in the matter. They simply are what they are and, despite what Israel Folau may think of them, they cannot repent of their lifestyle. – Trevor Somerville, Illawong

One doesn’t have to be a committed Christian to disapprove of the sins cited by Nan Howard (Letters, May 4-5).

To quote fellow atheist Christopher Hitchens, “Human decency is not derived from religion – it precedes it”. – Grant Heaton, Port Macquarie

​Having been raised a Roman Catholic (totally failed) I remember being taught that Jesus said, “Let him without sin cast the first stone”.

Folau and his Christian fellow travellers should seriously consider those words before condemning others. – Anthony Ollevou, Palmerston ACT

Most of us have restrictions on what we can say and do at work. As a Christian chaplain I was not to proselytise in the institutions where I worked.

We can witness to the love of God without being offensive to people. Christians have done it for hundreds of years.

Part of my Christian witness has been to respect my employers. If I cannot abide by the restrictions placed on me by those employers, I can choose not to work there. – Jan Syme, Newington

Your correspondent asks if the “40 per cent should be silenced”. If the views cause hurt to a particular group, then yes, they should be silenced.

Defamation and racial discrimination laws have not affected our “robust democracy” so too should an unwanted opinion of my life and that of every LGBTQI person. – Diana Buttigieg, Bondi Junction

Don’t avoid social media, just extremist views

If former Greens candidate Joanna Nilson is right and saying and doing stupid things on the internet is what normal people – especially those under 40 – do, I’m not looking forward to the next generation of politicians (“Dirt-digging units take heavy toll”, May 4-5). – Cliff Jahnsen, Bowral

Your correspondent suggests that young persons considering a career in politics should avoid social media (Letters, May 4-5).

Of course, another option is for any political aspirant to avoid holding homophobic, Islamophobic, sexist or other extremist views.

That would perhaps offer a better outcome for both the aspirant and the people he or she seeks to represent. – John Ure, Mount Hutton

It isn’t only dubious comments they have made on social media that people have to keep in mind if they are thinking of becoming a candidate in federal politics.

But it’s also Section 44 of the Constitution which prohibits anyone who is a dual citizen or even if they have an entitlement to the same rights as a citizen of a foreign country that will see them disqualified from being a candidate.

Fifteen federal politicians fell foul of Section 44 during the last Parliament and who knows how many will in the next.

There was an opportunity (now lost) to repeal that section of the constitution in a referendum which could have allowed those possible millions of people to legally become candidates if they wished.

Democracy should allow all citizens of a country to engage in politics and its administration. – Con Vaitsas, Ashbury

Boofhead haircut audit

Congratulations to Malcolm Knox on an excellent audit of rugby league players’ names (“Addo-Carr to Watene-Zelezniak: My player name audit”, May 4-5).

It’s the best laugh I have had for a long time. Perhaps next time he could make a correlation between boofhead haircuts and names. – Robyn Lewis, Raglan

Vision for faster trains

There is much discussion about the lack of vision by our governments and transport planners (Letters, May 4-5).

In NSW, a statewide transport vision could offset increasing Sydney congestion and create major decentralisation benefits.

Our XPT trains are designed to travel at up to 160kph but the poor quality of tracks and varying gradients result in most XPT services in NSW travelling at an average speed of 80kph.

The NSW government is planning to upgrade the XPT rolling stock with no apparent upgrade of the rail infrastructure. Tilt trains and managed rail infrastructure upgrades could provide a cost-effective solution in the shorter term with High Speed Rail the longer term solution.

Imagine NSW with half the rail travel time between regional centres, Canberra and Sydney. – Michael Fox, Pacific Palms

Some of your correspondents do not understand the meaning of “public” (Letters, May 4-5).

We pay taxes so governments can provide services. If services, for example trains, are to be provided by private business we should not have to pay taxes; it’s that simple.

Taxes should pay for public infrastructure and we should not be paying twice for public transport, hospitals, schools, electricity, water, roads, airports. – Rod Lander, Stanwell Park

Your letters discussing relocating jobs as the only way to cut commuting brought joy to my heart (Letters, May 4-5).

Country towns like Lithgow are crying out for jobs and for new residents to boost their local economies.

The Lithgow region will lose hundreds of jobs as coal becomes a memory. More local retailers and service providers will fail and the community will suffer.

The state and federal governments so far seem unwilling to relocate government departments to the area despite its convenient proximity to Sydney, the availability of housing and land that is more affordable than the capital cities, and the obvious overcrowding in the capitals.

Towns like Lithgow are an obvious solution to so many of the cities’ problems.

Wake up, planners and administrators! We’re here and waiting. – Susan Gregory South Bowenfels,

Boochani victim of politics

At the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I was privileged to hear Behrouz Boochani speak via video link about his book No friend but the Mountain.

He has been awarded the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for 2019 and he is still on Manus Island after six years.

Please explain why Australia can give him this award but will not give him residency here? He is the victim of ruthless politics, and a cruel and unjust imprisonment. Give him his freedom, Australia. – Jeanette Loewensohn, Cremorne

NRA arrogance and Oliver North

Can there be no end to the arrogance of the USA’s National Rifle Association (“NRA in crisis: gun lobby’s Game if Thrones”, May 4-5)?

Only in the States could Oliver North, someone convicted of illegally supplying weapons to both Iran and Nicaragua, be elected to the head of that organisation. – Charles Hargrave, Elizabeth Bay

Tragedy of dementia

While my heart goes out to Frank Lowy, and any others affected by the tragedy of dementia, at least he can afford private at-home care, and will not have to make the awful decision to place his beloved wife into a nursing home (“Lowy reflects on love, loss and trauma”, May 4-5). – Karen Eldridge, Leichhardt

Keneally’s false note

Thanks Thomas Keneally, for your insightful appreciation of Les Murray’s uniquely Australian poetic achievement (“I thought I had time to reconcile with Les”, May 4-5).

However, there is one false note in your eulogy. In the society of poets one does not raise one poet to the pantheon by denigrating another: “You should have got, for what it’s worth, Bob Dylan’s wasted Nobel.”

I wonder what Les’ retort would have been. – Ian Buchan, South Kincumber

Eyes on the prizes

I agree with your correspondents: winning the Packing Room Prize is the kiss of death in terms of winning the Archibald Prize (Letters, May 4-5).

The expert judges cannot be seen to have the same opinion as the packers. A simple solution could be to announce the winners of both prizes at the same time. That way, the Packing Room prize winner is not unfairly penalised. – Margaret Nash, Randwick

Dutton’s support? Beware

Of course. What else would he say before the election (“Win or lose, Morrison ‘should lead Liberals'”, May 4-5)? – Dimitris Langadinos, Concord West

Peter Dutton’s statement of loyalty to Scott Morrison is as worthless as Morrison’s declaration that his “ambition” was for Malcolm Turnbull two days before the coup. – Nick Wilson, Palm Beach

Why wouldn’t Dutton dismiss the idea of another leadership contest after the election? Just the thought of him challenging would be enough to have more Liberal voters heading for the hills. His declaration was to avoid the party losing more votes.
Just wait until after the election. Pollies never say never. – Ross Allan, Mullumbimby

If the Liberal Party loses the election the defeat will lie at the feet of Dutton and the trio who ousted Malcolm Turnbull and not the weak and ineffectual Bill Shorten. – Brian Pretorius, Breakfast Point

Dutton’s claim that the “people have moved on” from his orchestrating Turnbull’s removal last year exposes a preposterous ignorance, and short-sighted view, of the electorate’s long-term memory. – Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay

Look at fine print

Simple solution: Read the label. (“Warning over look-alike drugs”, May 4-5) – Peter Horne, Parramatta

To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email letters@smh.com.au. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.​

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