Mending the heart and the world

Mending the heart and the world

NOTHING has given me such a lift as your story on the Repair Cafe ("Dutch cafes aim to repair throwaway society", The Age 10/5). After weeks of doom and gloom, it truly gladdened my heart. As a way of helping reduce waste, this successful project, repairing goods that are "usually not that broken", offers a huge step forward in helping our environment.

It reminded me of a concept developed by Mary Grigg in Canberra who, as a retired maternity nurse working with kindergarten children at the ANU Parents Co-operative Creche in the 1970s, set up sessions for mothers wanting to mend or make new garments from old clothing. These groups were fabulously successful. We all went away with a real glow of satisfaction and achievement. As a reader who repairs things until they cannot be mended any more, I believe your story shows what can be done to raise awareness of the benefits of repairing and recycling. Be inspired!

Robyn Peck, Glen Waverley

Misdirected spend

YOU don't have to be a highly paid economist to detect the flaws in the Gillard government's budget. The prime example is how the proceeds of the mining tax are to be spent. This tax was supposed to share the benefits of mining our resources with future generations. Current generations share in this wealth via existing taxes and royalties paid by mining companies.

I would prefer that all the mining tax be preserved in a sovereign wealth fund, which has been successfully adopted by a number of European countries. However, investing in infrastructure, boosting super savings or encouraging companies to reinvest in job-producing projects via lower corporate taxes would be acceptable alternatives. Funding the proposed disability insurance scheme would also be worthwhile. Instead, we learn that a major portion of the proceeds will be used to provide further compensation for the flawed carbon tax. This short-sighted government is using our wealth to try to secure its own political survival and that is clearly a waste of money.

Allan Tapley, Mount Eliza

Nothing to show

IT IS trite for John Howard to decry the cuts to defence ("Defence cuts 'shameful': Howard", theage.com.au, 9/5). Defence has always had an insatiable appetite for funds, and Howard speaks from experience. He forced us into wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that had nothing to do with us. He frittered away $20 billion on his "war on terror". This is money lost forever that could have been spent on hospitals, infrastructure, education and the underprivileged. No, shame on you, John Howard. I don't want to hear any more from the Liberals that the NBN, BER or pink batts were a waste. At least taxpayers have got something tangible for their money.

Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South, NSW

Spread the care

FINALLY! The introduction of the long-overdue dental care scheme has to be applauded. It's great news for anyone who cannot afford this most essential health service. Employers should be just as happy. A sick workforce is in no one's interest. Sadly, however, the unemployed are pushed deeper into poverty as successive governments choose to ignore the brutal effect of exorbitant price rises for food and rent on this particular demographic.

Neglecting the weakest citizens again and again is a "perfect" breeding ground for desperate crime and creates a new underclass.

Ziggy Roque, Collingwood

Low-grade move

I NOTICE in the budget papers that compulsory exams are to be introduced for currently qualified superannuation fund auditors. The inescapable conclusion that is drawn from this is that Treasurer Wayne Swan does not have faith in the current fully qualified super fund auditors. Perhaps he would like to explain why he did not propose compulsory exams for politicians to ensure they knew what they were doing, and to give Australians some comfort that parliamentary members have the requisite knowledge in relation to legislation that is put before Parliament.

Tony Taggart, Sandringham

Parenting pays

AS WE are inundated with Mother's Day commercialism, it seems ironic that payments for single mothers will be cut to push them into the paid workforce. My local library is conducting Saturday morning programs for 10-year-olds on "being home alone". What a sad reflection on our society's values. When will it be acknowledged that before/after-school programs and childcare centres are no substitute for one-on-one parenting. Doubtless the repercussions will be seen in five years and the true value of parenting appreciated.

Janet Keenan, Surrey Hills

A fine waste

I WAS worried to read that Arrow Energy has been boasting about its "clean environmental record" even though it has been responsible for a serious environmental accident in Queensland ("Fracking fine taints 'clean' claim", BusinessDay, 10/5). The fine for this 24-hour gas and chemical leak was $2000 for contravening a condition under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

The biggest worry is that Arrow Energy, using this boast, is applying to drill 7000 coal seam gas wells over the next 35 to 40 years. It can take years before accidents under the ground become apparent. When we consider the costs if water tables are polluted, the land is degraded and farmers are unable to farm their land, what use is any fine or imposed condition?

Bron Dahlstrom, Inverloch

Live and let nest

MAY I remind Ron Murdoch (Letters, 10/5) that possums existed in Vermont before houses and cars arrived. Also, they are a protected species and because they are territorial, it is illegal to trap and relocate them unless they are released within 50 metres of your home. (Ringtail possums are fully protected and cannot be trapped.) By taking them further away, you are condemning them to a slow death through injury or starvation. At the very least, it is a futile exercise as other possums will simply take their place. The best solution is to give the animals a nest-box so they will stay out of your roof. Learn to live with our urban wildlife, Ron.

Olwyn Jones, Richmond

The wrong road

PERHAPS the "roadblock to progress", ("State-federal politicking a roadblock to progress", Comment, 10/5) just may have something to do with the type of infrastructure projects proposed by the Baillieu government. One suspects the federal government would be more likely to fund passenger rail developments to Doncaster or the airport rather than yet more freeways or ludicrously expensive tunnels.

Bronwen Bryant, Richmond

Failing to fit crime

IT IS outrageous to place teenagers, or indeed young adults, who post pictures of themselves and their friends (of a similar age) on a social network, on the sex offenders register ("Risky sexting by teens doesn't necessarily make them child pornographers", Comment 8/5). The punishment and rehabilitation needs to be thoughtful, flexible and must fit the crime.

To place a young, naive person, whose greatest crime is likely to be showing off or copycat behaviour, on a register comprising parents, teachers, ministers of religion and other "responsible" adults, who have sexually abused and/or profited from child pornography, is to fail in our duty as a society to teach, protect and wisely administer the law.

New situations call for new solutions and new legislation. There is no room for complacency and lazy methodology in dealing with a young person whose placement on this register for eight years may ruin their life.

Giselle Solinski, Malvern

Courting disaster

IT IS not only the courts that are subject to financial targets ("No place for justice on a conveyor belt", Comment, 10/5). Hospitals and schools, too, are now treated as businesses that must make a profit. Too bad about a decent education where children come first, or medical treatment where the patient is the one considered first, or the justice system where a fair hearing should be paramount it is all about the bottom line.

Marie Nash, Doncaster

Dress sense?

"DRESS for success" (Business Day, 10/5) is why we had a global financial crisis in the first place. Learn about leverage and how to read financial statements, then get your hair dyed, spray on a subtle fragrance and press your pinstriped suit.

Lucy Harrison, Box Hill North

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