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Energy companies are holding all Australians to ransom


The call by Lucy and Malcolm Turnbull for the amenity of inner Sydney to spread west sounds simple enough. However, the developers, who drive the new suburban sprawl and regeneration of the older suburbs, do not love tree canopies or setbacks from roadways to allow for modest front gardens.

Some have experimented with the contemporary terrace, but these are often brutalist bunkers, devoid of a cooling balcony or shaded windows. New town centres need transplanted mature trees, not tokenistic saplings and, more than anything, they need imaginative architecture so they will become destinations. Brian Thornton, Stanmore

While good urban planning is essential, the western Sydney region and other regional centres just may want to remain unique and not harbour a ubiquitous eastern Sydney community of busy fluctuating populations and upmarket shopping and eateries. It was one reason I moved from Sydney. Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

Leading change creates political relevance. However, in the planning space, our most significant step forward was the Sydney Region Outline Plan of 1968 that led to the many regional CBDs we have today. The Turnbulls pushed for just three significant regional centres. The state government has now expanded it to six, one of which, Bradfield (near the new airport), does not yet exist and may not amount to much. Developers want to build medium density in, and around, our regional and local CBDs that have railway stations – there are hundreds of them. But the state government wants to build a new railway for the very long term, rather than invest in our current railway which would deliver far more sustainable outcomes. Increasingly unaffordable housing is just one of the Turnbull legacies. Peter Egan, Mosman

I agree that our low-density “McBurbia” model is completely out of control. It is starving supply in the residential land space, forcing us into a car-optimised, low-density urban environment which gobbles up people’s time, money and energy, and is pig ugly to boot. Mike Seward, Port Fairy (Vic)

Wage rise doesn’t inflate prices

Those who think that the minimum wage increase will spark an inflation spiral are spouting a traditional economic theory without thinking about actual behaviour (“Wage rise tipped to spur greater living costs”, June 15). The key assumption is that employers will pass the full cost on in prices and that everything else will stay the same. Some argue that some workers will be laid off to prevent costs rising. But will that be the real outcome?

Low-paid workers will probably spend the whole of the increase. That will increase what employers have to sell, increasing their profits without increasing prices. We all remember the argument for cutting penalty rates – that there would be more jobs for staff. That never happened, either. It’s about time that some stopped looking at things through a narrow, employer-focused lens, and looked at the big, real picture. David Rush, Lawson

Much praise has been sprayed over the decision by the Fair Work Commission. It was well-deserved and very timely. However, there hasn’t been sufficient attention given to the people most in need of an increase in their income: those on JobSeeker. Already on an unsustainably low amount, and just as vulnerable to the massive increases in price of food, they appear to have been forgotten, again. Does no one remember the sudden increase in their well-being when they received a doubling of their measly income during the JobKeeper episode? Alas, it was taken away just as fast, when it suited the Morrison government. The JobSeeker supplement should be doubled again, to provide the least fortunate of our population with a minimum amount of sustenance. John Greenway, Wentworth Falls

Extra year, extra value?

I was a child in the 1950s, so my cognitive development was not enhanced by any formal early childhood learning (“Early start: NSW set to offer extra school year”, June 16). Luckily, I was able to fluke an honours degree in psychology in the 1960s, which taught me to be sceptical of any claims in the social sciences. So, when I read about a decision to add an extra year of preschool learning with a sentence beginning with “research shows” alarm bells rang, especially when the research isn’t referenced. Michael Costello, Ashfield

Support on the ground

It is no surprise that thousands of people are still waiting for flood relief funding (“Thousands waiting for flood relief”, June 16). Any clear-thinking government would have a relief fund task force that would fly into the affected area and set up an immediate and direct contact base for those suffering from such a traumatic experience. This task force would have the power to confirm flood victims’ circumstances on the ground, particularly when people have lost documentation and are desperate for assistance. This would alleviate those victims of the disaster from having to try to make claims remotely when still being traumatised. Ken Pares, Forster

“It’s not a house, it’s a home.” The Kerrigans in the 1997 movie, The Castle.

“It’s not a house, it’s a home.” The Kerrigans in the 1997 movie, The Castle.Credit:

Building up coffers

Gareth Bryant’s article is the frankest and most moving article on housing affordability I have seen (“Twenty-five years after The Castle and the Australian dream of homeownership is dead”, June 16). The Herald is to be congratulated for printing it. It is not, however, the whole story. Developers are banned from funding political parties in NSW for good reasons, but are the main contributors to the Coalition federally, with no federal ICAC to shine a light on their activities. Perhaps there is a way back to housing justice and sanity. Maybe it could start there. Norman Carter, Roseville Chase

Better education questions

Your correspondent concludes that the school system is biased against boys (Letters, June 16). While it may be true that boys are not doing as well as girls in exams, there are other aspects of schooling not found in exam results. And one has to only look at post-school figures to see that men generally have higher wages and salaries and hold a greater proportion of senior roles, even in female-dominated professions. So there are complex issues at play and no simple questions or answers. There are many more interesting questions to ask here than who does better in exams. For example, how can we make education better for all? How can we help boys and girls and their parents value education? Why is educational success not always such a great predictor of future success? Mary Anne Kennan, Burwood

I don’t believe that either gender has a significant difference in ability in any subjects, but I do think there may be a societal bias in how these subjects are valued, by gender. Rather than making English not compulsory, wouldn’t it be better to make English and at least one STEM subject compulsory for all students? Bill Irvine, Goulburn

A sign that states “Girls and boys can do anything” should be mandatory in every classroom. Robert Hickey, Green Point

Fair, transparent tax

Some correspondents suggest land tax would be a less costly option for the homeowner (Letters, June 16). Land valuation in NSW is highly arbitrary and disadvantages homeowners in regional areas where there is not sufficient sales evidence. Land taxation is an opaque and inequitable system.
It is not at all clear that a home buyer in NSW would be better off opting for land tax over the period of ownership than stamp duty on purchase. A lot like household energy prices, there’d no way of predicting how the tax will increase over time, based on highly questionable land valuation. Don’t believe economists who say this is an efficient tax – land tax in NSW needs transparency and fairness before being levied on the family home. Cathy Hales, Rosedale

Pretty good, BTW

I was most impressed by the list of honours held by Sir Martin Lewis (Letters, June 16). I suppose most of us would be familiar with the KGB and CIA and the more recent WTF, but I suspect only older readers such as me would recognise the significance of POQ and DCB. I think Sir Martin forgot to include the prestigious LOL. Col Nicholson, Hawks Nest

OMG, Sir Martin. Jennifer Nichols, Casino

Like, dude …

Your correspondent is so last century in saying “incredibly amazing”, when the word is “sick”.(Letters, June 16). Stein Boddington, St Clair

Feature wall

Next time I visit one of those stores with facial recognition cameras, I’ll wear a COVID-19 mask and a beanie, and maybe even dark glasses (“Major retailers using facial recognition technology on unsuspecting customers: Choice”, June 16). Peter Stuart, Carlingford

Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne celebrates after making the crucial save in the penalty shootout against Peru.

Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne celebrates after making the crucial save in the penalty shootout against Peru.Credit:Network 10

Wrong steps

I can’t be the only person in Australia who thinks goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne’s dancing antics at the goalmouth to put the Peruvian shooter off was poor sportsmanship (“Shootout was a blast from my past”, June 16). I’d rather we won fair and square. Tim Egan, Mosman

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
‘A game-changer’: NSW to introduce an extra year of education
From Busker: “Great news. But not exactly a game changer. More like back to the future. All of my contemporaries started school as 4-year-olds. Some needed an extra year along the way. Holding kids back has only ever been a good idea for those in quality pre-schools.”

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