logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo logo
star Bookmark: Tag Tag Tag Tag Tag
Australia

Is closing the Confucius program a xenophobic reaction?

Illustration: Alan Moir

Illustration: Alan MoirCredit:

Despite finding no evidence of "actual political influence", the NSW Department of Education will remove the Confucius program from public schools, where it has been operating for almost eight years ("Schools to stop Chinese classes after review", August 23).

Is this a precautionary, "just-in-case" move, or a reaction to the rising tide of xenophobia that seems to be nurtured by some politicians, shock-jocks and elements of the scare-mongering media? - Rob Phillips, North Epping

Confucius courses in NSW schools, run by Beijing, staff vetted by Beijing, curriculum controlled by Beijing. Unbelievable and unforgivable. - Shane Nunan, Finley

Like the Confucius program, religious education is self-regulated and has influence in public schools. Scripture volunteers are vetted by more than 100 different religious organisations, not by the NSW Department of Education.

The education minister said "there was no evidence of any undue influence in the Confucius Classroom, [but] there were clearly inappropriate governance arrangements in place". Yet the recommendations of an independent report into scripture teaching in schools has been rejected.

The influence of scripture in the classroom is a hell of a lot more than that of the Confucius program. - Robyn Bernstein, Annandale

The Australian university sector is heterogeneous so it needs to be remembered that the University of Newcastle is not necessarily typical ("Vice-Chancellor breaks ranks on foreign students", August 23). Professor Alex Zelinsky is correct when he points to the disturbingly small contributions to tertiary education by the federal government.

Our biggest universities are, therefore, necessarily doing more than merely "balancing the books" through their intake of overseas students. While it may be true that those international students make up 25 per cent of Australia’s university enrolments, last year it was 40 per cent at Sydney University and even 50 per cent elsewhere, because city universities are more attractive than those in rural areas.

Since China is the major source for those students from abroad, it is time for serious reflection and perhaps policy adjustment on the extent of our reliance on money from that country. In other words, is it university "ownership" by stealth? - John Carmody, Roseville 

Australia needs more politicians like Fischer

Vale Tim Fischer. Another moderate, reasoned voice gone ("Farewell to a quiet, brave giant", August 23). - Peter Wilkosz, Byron Bay

Tim Fischer: thoughtful, involved and definitely more determined and powerful than a locomotive, once he got behind a worthwhile cause. He showed everyone that a politician, no matter what their party alignment, can be a vehicle for the good of all, can demonstrate the best qualities of humanity and can be loved by us all. - Donald Hawes, Peel

He was a gentleman's gentleman and a farmer's farmer. And he liked trains too! - Dave Horsfall, North Gosford

I have heard much praise of Fischer since the announcement of his death and agree with the sentiments expressed. None seem to have mentioned his personal special project of forging a singular Australian relationship with Thailand. It was typical of the man to pick what he perceived to be a weak point in Australian diplomacy and set for himself the task of remedying the deficiency. The Thais certainly appreciated his efforts.

Vale Tim; you were a true nationalist, for you held the good of the nation above petty tribal allegiances. - Lance Rainey, Lanitza

Politicians seem rightly unanimous in their judgment of Fischer as a truly decent man. So if decency in politics is so revered and recognisable, why isn't there more of it? - David Grant, Ballina

Tim wanted to govern for the people. He was the opposite of a selfish politician. We need more like him. - Ian Catt, Surry Hills

Two boys from the bush. What a world of difference between Tim Fischer and Barnaby Joyce. - Joan Dalgleish, Ballina

Barnaby, next time you get a rush of blood for media notoriety, just ask yourself, "What would Tim have done?". - Brian Collins, Cronulla

Trump and the two stooges

Emmanuel Macron recently warned the UK that it risks becoming a vassal state of the US if Brexit goes ahead (Letters, August 23).

If British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to know what this feels like, he should just give Scott Morrison a ring. With the announcement that Australia is embarking on another fruitless US military expedition, our PM is an expert on the topic. - Malcolm Freak, Armidale

I agree with your correspondent, Canada does share a border with the US . But I disagree on a few points: both countries speak English but Canada is also a bilingual country with its own, very different culture. Also, Canada is not ruled with ignorance and arrogance. - Serge Calvé, Como

Sir Elton John famously said he would buy NZ, but it was not for sale. Perhaps on the rebound Donald Trump could buy our neighbour since he has had his advances rebuffed by Denmark.

I am sure he would appreciate the actions of the NZ House Speaker manning up and holding a baby in Parliament. No misogyny here, bro. - John Dear, Mount Kuring-gai

Your correspondent says Tasmania is not for sale. Where did that come from? If Trump wants Tasmania, then we should let him have it. - Peter Bower, Naremburn

Pyrmont tower stands out like a sore thumb

Somehow I’m sceptical about the assurances from the Greater Sydney Commission about urban planning consultation for Pyrmont ("Turnbull promises open review", August 23).

Its record and recent experience suggests that the sunny streets and low rise streetscapes of Pyrmont, and the adjoining Bays Precinct areas, could readily be replaced by the sunless, windy, high-rise canyons of the nearby CBD. - Evan Bailey, Glebe

I've just seen the artists impression of The Star's proposed residential tower, and if it isn't sticking out of the ground like the proverbial ''sore thumb" then nothing is. - Ciaran Donnelly, Lane Cove West

Your correspondent laments that the state government overrode the Independent Planning Commission's decision on Macquarie Bank's Martin Place development (Letters, August 23).

ICAC should conduct a review of the process to ensure integrity and transparency – or is it that the premier and her planning minister are able to ignore the advice of yet another independent body? -Peter Mahoney, Oatley

The new amendments to the Rozelle interchange are a throwback to the 1960s where cars were king (“Worse than the Cahill Expressway”, August 22).

The centrepiece of the original design was a grand, green pedestrian bridge. This seamlessly linked the Glebe foreshore to the proposed new Rozelle Parklands.

The amendment to move the link bridge west defeats its purpose. The latest design has a tortuously long indirect route, requiring pedestrians to cross four roads to reach the bridge.

Vistas to Rozelle Bay from the pedestrian bridge will be blocked by the new vehicle overpass. We need a substantially revised design. Generations to come will thank us if we put pedestrians first. - Martin O’Dea, Lilyfield

End of the line for minister

Transport Minister Andrew Constance must resign after the latest Sydney transport fail ('''We have an indefinite delay': Chaos after train breakdown'', smh.com.au, August 23).

There’ll be the typical blame-shifting after the latest fiasco but ultimately the buck stops with the Berejiklian government and its bungled “management” of the transport system.

Too many incidents have occurred under Constance’s watch for him to continue in the role with any credibility.

Workers, families, students, pensioners and the NSW economy, all rely each day on an efficient, accessible and affordable public transport system, something Sydney severely lacks under the Liberals. - Nick Rippon, Newtown

Green with envy

Private investment funds are circling Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation hoping for the sale of the $10 billion government-owned organisation (“Green bank in investor sights'', August 23).

The corporation is being criticised for competing with the private sector, thus driving up costs. The sale of other government-owned entities, such as the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney Airport, state utility companies et al, has worked such a treat in our free-market economy in driving down costs; hasn’t it? - Guy Thomson, West Ryde

Heavy load to bear

Increased coal exports on the scale envisaged by Matt Canavan would add tens of millions of tonnes to greenhouse gas emissions (“Australia targets India for coal exports as China demand falls”, August 23).

What a chilling assessment of our coal future is set out by Canavan’s announcement. It is easy to see why it was held up until after the the PM was safely back from the Pacific Islands Forum. This is national self-interest at its very worst. - Nedra Orme, Neutral Bay

Owners on the hook

Owners of faulty buildings are to pay millions of dollars to repair faults in their buildings (''Residents won't return this year'', August 23).

I can’t understand this; who was responsible for allowing questionable building practices and certification to run the building construction industry? The government.

Why then should owners, who bought in the belief that building practices were acceptable and legal, be expected to foot the bill because of loophole legalities. - Gloria Healey, Neutral Bay

Free to believe, or not

Pru Goward makes some good points on the difficulty of legislating for religious freedom (''Religious freedom contortions'', August 23).

We should not have a Religious Freedom Act. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also demands protection of the right to theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs, as well as the right not to profess any religion or belief. Religion is protected by anti-discrimination legislation.

The reduction of belief freedoms to ''religion'' only privileges religious beliefs and institutions by promoting the view that religious beliefs take precedence over the rights of the non-religious, who, according to the census, are about one third of all Australians. - Meg Wallace, Queanbeyan

With bishops refusing to obey the law on compulsory notification of paedophiles, churches helping fund Israel Folau's right to condemn the gay community to hell, our parliaments stacked with Christian warriors and the potential for more division in our diverse community from this Religious Freedom Bill, perhaps there is actually a need for a Religious Restrainment Bill. - Bert Candy, Glenvale Qld

Royal reality check

Poor George, Charlotte and Louis having to cope with flying a whole hour in economy class ("Prince William, Kate fly economy amid jet furore", smh.com.au, August 23).

What were their royal parents thinking? What about their sense of entitlement and prestige? For goodness sake, why didn't they take the train? - John Byrne, Randwick

Fools make the rules

All of a sudden new Heart Foundation guidelines change the "rules" for healthy eating ("More cheese, less meat: the new eating advice for a healthy heart", August 21). Full-fat dairy is now acceptable and eggs don't have the previous consumption limitations.

But there is no apology from whoever came up with the previous guidelines and the miserable diet that resulted. They should be held accountable. - Bob Liddelow, Avalon

A fine solution

Is our NSW government completely incompetent ("Blitz on overdue fines after $300,000 not paid on time", August 23). It can't be rocket science to link a vehicle fine to cancellation of the car rego. That will have them paying up. - Tim Schroder, Gordon

Moment of self-reflection

Looking into a mirror is a revealing thing, and it's had a profound effect on me (Letters, August 23). - Doriana Gray, Georges Hall

Postscript

The Pell case remains as divisive as it was when the original verdict was reached. Readers are inclined to see either justice delivered or worryingly unresolved. It might assure writers who detected bias in our coverage that there were some who took the exact opposite view of our "prejudice" in favour of/against the convicted cardinal.

Now to our former man at the Vatican. Tim Fischer's career and mine intersected at a newspaper office set near the banks of the Murray. With a pedantic manner of address that at first seemed intimidating, Tim provoked wry eye-rolling when he would phone in his perfectly formed press releases detailing, say, a grant to the firies or the perfidy of the Wran Labor government. Far from the glibness of youthful judgment I recognise a man for whom autism was no barrier to achievement. The term "authentic politician" doesn't begin to cover it.

Tim covered a lot of miles by road (this hitch-hiker can attest to that) but his passion was trains. He "understood the importance of train travel to people in rural Australia," wrote Joanna Mendelssohn, of Dulwich Hill. "It would be a fitting memorial to him to rebuild and upgrade regional train services."

Adds Chris Sutherland, of Glenbrook: "Fischer's most famous words were in his courageous speeches during his and John Howard's successful campaign to keep Australians safer through gun control. However, possibly his most insightful quote is that, "the coefficient of rolling friction of steel on steel [train wheels on train tracks] is one-third that of rubber on bitumen [truck tyres on roads]. With that single sentence, Fischer showed more vision than the entire generation of politicians who have succeeded him."

Mark Sawyer, Letters co-editor

All rights and copyright belongs to author:
Themes
ICO