The young are the future, we need to support them

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I’m a Boomer. I hear your correspondent (Letters, 8/12). I’m appalled by the lack of action on climate change, increasing divisions in society, pervasive self-interest and attempts to make the younger generation understand the struggles we had. The funding injustice of our education system and determination of our previous conservative federal government to run down the tertiary sector are iniquitous. Likewise the housing rental crisis. Young people are our future. We should do what we can to support them.
Jane Ross, San Remo

The generational wealth accumulator
Your correspondent (Letters, 9/12) is correct to point out that Boomers and their precursors will not be around much longer. But it is a furphy to claim that their wealth simply derived from hard work. Gains from investments stem from the work of others, and all they had to do to benefit from the skyrocketing value of a house bought many decades earlier was to live in one.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

Nuclear annihilation was our shadow
I agree with many of the things your correspondent (Letters, 8/12) said, about free education and low housing costs (but interest rates of 18 per cent), but I do take exception to their comments about tomorrow’s world. As a Baby Boomer, I lived through the Cold War and the expectation of even living to maturity was nil with a world destroyed by nuclear war. We used to get advice about what to do when you were given a five-minute warning: when the bombs are falling, put your head between your legs and kiss it all goodbye.
Jan Newmarch, Oakleigh

The wheel keeps spinning and spinning
As a Boomer I was extremely amused by your correspondent (Letters, 8/12). Especially the sentence: “As a 20-year-old, I have had to catch up on a lot of our political history to make informed voting decisions.” That just cracked me up. As a Boomer aged 20 we were not allowed to vote or drink or do anything – we were considered too young. Sadly though we were young enough to be conscripted into the army and go and fight and die in the Vietnam War. And if your correspondent thinks that they have it bad with Boomers talking down to them, we Boomers had the same thing. Complaints about our music, clothing, attitude, everything. The whole thing about the free university sounded good. But as a young Boomer we were not expected to go to university, we were expected to leave school and get a real job. It couldn’t be a nice job, it had to be a real job that earned good money to raise a family. None of this arty farty university stuff.
Your correspondent also appears to blame the Boomers about the climate issues. Look at history, it was the Boomers who started the green movements; we knew about climate change in the 1960s and 1970s. We knew about all the environmental damage that was being done and we protested. Consider things like Greenpeace, the Franklin dam protests etc. Your correspondent does need to look back at history and the one thing that they will find is that every younger generation thinks they know more than their elders. How will your correspondent react when their grandchildren start blaming them for everything? Laurens Meyer, Richmond

It wasn’t all good times
Not all Boomers had access to a free university education. Not all Boomers had a car, television or even a home telephone. And many of us faced a 17 per cent interest rate on a home loan with only one income. Going for a coffee or brunch was not a ″⁣thing″⁣ either. Many of us did not get to go away for holidays. But I guess we at least had some ability to buy a home, as we didn’t have all the choices for spending money that are around today.
Marie Nash, Balwyn


Labor’s report card
This year has been a mixed bag for the Albanese government. Its early days with policy changes around wages and labour reforms were in line with voter expectations, and then came the Voice to parliament. It was never a pre-election policy and not on the radar of any voter, yet it absorbed all the party’s energy, fuelled that of the opposition and divided the nation. It was an unnecessary and risky initiative so early in government and pointed to its inability to hear voters’ concerns over more substantially immediate problems around housing and cost of living.
The government’s dogged determination to keep arguably unaffordable tax cuts for high-income earners and a plan to increase immigration, despite a chronic housing shortage, suggests it still isn’t listening to the voters.
The only thing in its stead has been that its political messaging has been generally one of improvement and equality. A Labor report card might read, “Could achieve more if they focused on their work. Easily distracted by others.″⁣
Stephen Farrelly, Donvale

Workplace catch-up
Thanks to Peter Hartcher (″⁣Fair Go: Labor’s win for workers″⁣, 9/12) for articulating why indeed the workplace laws legislation is excellent. It should have been introduced years ago.
I had no idea how much labour-hire workers were being shortchanged.
For BHP to say that the legislation will cost it $1.3billion a year is a startling admission of how much it has been underpaying. With a profit of $61.5 billion last year, there is no danger that BHP will cease flogging off our natural resources, and it means that there will be slightly less dividends, a lot of which goes overseas.
However, how long will this legislation stay in place? I remember the Minerals Resource Rent Tax, which was introduced by Labor in 2012 to retain some of the profits made by the resource giants.
When Tony Abbott won election, he repealed it.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

Keep focused on ban
A phased-in ban on online gambling was a key recommendation of a cross-party committee chaired by the late Labor MP Peta Murphy (″⁣Online bet ad ban would honour MP″⁣, 9/12). A worthy objective on behalf of the community.
According to Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, the government is giving the report the diligent attention it deserves. However, when she says, “I will be working with my ministerial colleagues to look at that through a harm reduction lens”, one wonders if there is any real possibility of an advertising ban becoming a reality.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

A bill in memory
″⁣Speeches, tears and memories in parliament are one thing (Comment, 7/12), but what a real tribute it would be to honour late parliamentarian Peta Murphy by implementing the recommendations of her social policy committee and ban gambling advertising.
Murphy did so much of the groundwork, she achieved cross-party agreement on the bans, and set out a structured four-stage approach.
If Anthony Albanese and his government are threatened by these changes and too weak to stand up to the gambling industry, they need to listen more carefully to the anecdotes, look more closely at the figures and recognise the financial and social cost to our society that is caused by gambling. Let’s take the first step in reducing the scourge of gambling and implement the ″⁣Peta Murphy bill″⁣.
Felicity Browne,

Needs of the elderly
Given that the proportion of Australians who now live alone (″⁣All the single ladies″⁣, 10/12), and that even those who have had partners, find themselves alone in the last stage of their life, advocacy for a higher quality and more knowledgeable aged care system needs to continue.
Contact with, and participation in, family and community life are essential for the very elderly to feel truly cared for.
As far back as December 1843, the need for the very elderly not to be left alone was promoted by Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol:
″⁣The old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the barren waste, was singing them a Christmas song – it had been a very old song when he was a boy – and from time to time, they all joined in the chorus. So surely as they raised their voice the old man got quite blithe and loud; and so surely as they stopped his vigour sank again.″⁣
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South

Retire this ironhorse
Recently, I made a return trip to Sydney by train. Having used trains on European holidays, I had a good opinion of their efficiency, comfort and speed. Sadly, all of those features are seriously lacking in the only available rail connection (the XPT) between Melbourne and Sydney.
The ageing ironhorse is noisy, uncomfortable and slow, taking between 11 and 12 hours to make the 950-kilometre journey. That is an average speed of around
85 km/h.
In this day and age, in a First World country, where we have been world leaders in so many fields, such as engineering, medicine and science, not to have produced a fast rail option (perhaps two to three hours for the trip) is a huge embarrassment and a national disgrace.
Politicians of all stripes should hang their heads in shame.
Gary Matthews,

For humanity’s sake
How refreshing to read the article by Ellyse Borghi about building peaceful dialogue between both sides of the Hamas-Israeli conflict (″⁣We can choose a path towards peace″⁣, 9/12)
She acknowledges the grief, mistrust and appalling violence in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.
The messages she brings – of caring for friends and for groups working for peace, support for multiculturalism and safety – make perfect sense both for our own community and more broadly as stepping stones for a more lasting peace in the region.
In rejecting polarising and inflammatory language and asking us all to recommit to our humanity, she shows leadership.
I hope it is not polarising to point out that a just peace for the region will have to involve recognition of the human rights of Palestinian people in Gaza and under occupation on the West Bank, an end to the growth in settlements, the need for freedom of movement and the ″⁣right to return″⁣ of Palestinian people.
Bruce Henry,
Moonee Ponds

Make sacrifices
Yes, inequality is appalling in a rich country like Australia, but when will people realise that it’s the whole world that needs equality and the prestigious lifestyle in the rich countries that will have to be lowered in years to come, to bring anything close to equality to those in poorer countries. We will all have to give up a lot in the way of consumerism.
Austerity is likely to be forced on us by climate change anyway, so we might as well accept it, through refugees or any other way (not through war, we hope).
Try Christmas shopping at op shops or to give services, not things. Both would be a good start.
Virginia Lowe, Ormond

Beware the Borg
The article ″⁣AI rising″⁣ (9/12) describes ″⁣digital utopia″⁣ as humans merge with artificially intelligent machines. Star Trek predicted such an outcome – the ″⁣Borg″⁣. That didn’t work out too well for humanity.
Sean Geary,

Spoke in the argument
I agree that cyclists are numerous and well-catered for in Amsterdam (″⁣Dutch double down for bicycle users″⁣, 10/12).
However, as a 78-year-old pedestrian I felt very vulnerable on a recent visit to that city. Cyclists in great numbers assume they are keeping you safe by swerving around you. Woe betide the pedestrian who takes half a step to the left or right without stopping to check whether it is safe. And it usually isn’t.
Christine Bradbeer,
Mont Albert North

Nuclear as a weapon
Members of the Coalition at COP28 appear to have one thing in mind: promoting nuclear. According to shadow energy and climate minister Ted O’Brien, “We have what the world needs” and “we have the ability to develop capabilities in other areas of the nuclear fuel cycle”.
More broadly, the Coalition’s promotion of nuclear power flies in the face of top scientists and others who have crunched the numbers, both in terms of energy efficiency, cost and safety. How exactly would nuclear enable us to meet our 2050 target when it would take at least a decade, some think closer to two decades, to be operational?
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s Small Modular Reactor idea is up in smoke, with the much-touted NuScale experiment collapsing. If the Coalition were more supportive of the government’s efforts in relation to renewables, its advocacy for nuclear could at least be seen in good faith.
As it stands, the nuclear issue is being weaponised for yet another tactic to simply win an election.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East


Asked whether he intended to be a dictator, Donald Trump replied, ″⁣Only for the first day.″⁣ Droll, indeed. But he’s right. After the first day, it will be rather late to raise objections. Few challenge him now. Who would dare to in the future?
Claude Miller, Castlemaine

The best thing about Jacinta Allan? She’s not Daniel Andrews.
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Was there ever a time when polling wouldn’t find “immigration numbers far too high” (10/12)? It doesn’t necessarily mean they are, though.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

Do neo-Nazis realise that their heroes comprehensively lost everything in 1945? Not a great role model.
Tony James, Battery Point, Tas

Mankind needs the world more than the world needs mankind to survive.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North

It’s been said that the US and UK are poor societies with some very rich people. Peter Hartcher (Comment, 9/12) cautions that “Australia is far from America but it’s been trending in the same direction. Systemic change is needed.″⁣
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

The US veto of the UN resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire in the war on Gaza is a disgrace. It is devoid of humanity. No wonder it has been roundly condemned by international human rights groups.
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Why not tape the Big Banana from Coffs Harbour to the outside of the NGV. That’s what I would call art.
Mike Wilkie, North Melbourne

Thank you, Leunig, for your heartfelt words (Spectrum, 9/12).
Margaret McIntyre, Camberwell

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