LETTERS

Why some risk all to escape violence

Why some risk all to escape violence

I HOPE your article on the brutality of the Taliban, who executed a woman accused of adultery (The Age, 10/7), will move a few of the hardest hearts. No wonder asylum seekers are prepared to risk everything for a better life. And while it may not bring immediate rewards, the boost in aid to Afghanistan, particularly for educating females, is the right thing to do. Studies show that every additional year of schooling helps raise a person's income-generating capacity by 10 per cent. Education also improves the health of girls and their future children. Let us ensure people no longer need to flee from trauma.

Maree Nutt, Newport

Sheer brutality

SO, have I got this right? Australia will give a further $1 billion to Afghanistan over four years on top of the millions we have already spent there, while the Taliban murder a young woman who has not been proved to have broken any law? Only $17.7 million of this money will be spent on programs designed to reduce violence against women. Did the Taliban also kill the woman's male "partner"? Probably not, their hypocrisy and brutality know no bounds.

Lorraine Bates, Surrey Hills

Distorted priorities

THIS week I had my personal details taken by a police officer and could face a fine of $70 because I crossed the road when the pedestrian light was red. I did not dodge traffic, there were no cars or trams approaching, and I used my eyes and ears to ensure the way was clear.

As Cameron Nolan (Comment & Debate, 10/7) points out, more Australians die every year from smoking-related diseases than road accidents, murders, alcohol and other drugs combined. Why does the law permit an 18-year-old to purchase cigarettes and smoke their way to an early grave, yet, as a 36-year-old adult, I am not permitted to use my own judgment about crossing the road safely? A note to the Victorian government: it could raise more revenue by fining drivers who turn left into the path of pedestrians without looking properly, or who block the crossing by unsuccessfully trying to sneak across the intersection as the light turns to red.

Gale English, Northcote

Win-win for all

AT THE old Spencer Street railway station, it was easy to collect country passengers via a drive-through roadway. No such convenient facility exists for this purpose now, nor for taxi pick-ups. The former Savoy Tavern on the corner of Bourke and Spencer streets which Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has described as "a bomb site" (The Age, 10/7) could be acquired to build such an interchange. It would also make it a little more attractive to use rail services.

Bruce Love, Kew

Short-sighted attack

ALL political parties will laud their credentials over others, but the latest attacks by Labor figures on the Greens (The Age, 10/7) are indulgent and childish. At a time when Labor poll stocks are at an all-time low and a federal electoral loss is between likely and inevitable, the last thing it should be focusing on is a hatchet job on the party which can help it avoid catastrophe.

Firstly, Greens preferences will be crucial in almost every lower house seat. Most importantly, a tight preference swap is all that will prevent an Abbott-controlled Senate and an undoing of Labor's legislative agenda. They do not need to be friends, but why burn down the whole neighbourhood? The outburst has probably cost Labor another swag of voters.

Peter Allan, West Brunswick

Listen to the people

LABOR is at war because it has lost its relevance in a society in which people are involved with instant democracy via the internet and in direct action at a consumer level or on the street. Labor was a grassroots movement founded by working people and middle-class educated Fabians. It was a party of principles and aspirations.

Modern Labor is a party of committees, and people do not feel heard. Most importantly, it says one thing and does another. The best example is Labor's support of women's rights, equality, reproductive control, including access to abortion, childcare, and working and parenting. These are icons of Labor values, long fought for and won, yet the party preferences Family First above the Greens. Young women can look at what Labor says and then what it does, and vote accordingly. Labor can still get back to its roots, but it has to choose to.

Peter Topping, North Melbourne

Second-class diners

ON A recent night out, I had plans to have dinner with a group of friends, including about 10 people in wheelchairs. Despite ringing ahead and being told it would be fine, when we arrived at the restaurant in Melbourne's CBD, we were refused entry as it could not, or would not, cater for that number of wheelchairs.

Imogen Russell Head, Carlton North

The big picture

PROPERTY markets run in cycles. When prices recover, the reporting creates a false sense of over optimism. When a correction occurs "Home owners facing loan repayment disaster" (The Age, 10/7) we see the super negativity. This destroys confidence and prevents people from making rational decisions.

About 30 per cent of properties in Melbourne are auctioned, the rest are privately sold. If real estate agents only sold 50 to 60 per cent of their listed stock, they would be out of business. The weekly reported clearance rates do not include the number of properties sold after auction (often within a week) and the prices (most are within the agents' original estimates). They also do not include the total number of private sales each week despite the fact that they make up about 70 per cent of the market.

Ian Anderson, Vermont South

Playing politics

PEOPLE join the armed forces to defend Australia against military aggression. A sailor's natural urge is to rescue people in peril on the seas. Keeping desperate men, women and children on disabled boats and towing them back to Indonesia is not the military purpose of the navy. Tony Abbott, you debase our service personnel for political gain just as John Howard did with the Tampa and "children overboard" scandals.

Laurie Mahony, Glen Iris

Support farmers

I READ "Food price soars as US sweats" (BusinessDay, 10/7) with concern. Reduced wheat and soy crops in the United States due to a heatwave means the price of basic food such as bread, beef, pork and poultry, as will anything that uses wheat or soybeans, will increase in Australia. The fact that the US also grows corn for biofuels rather than food/animal fodder is adding to the price and availability problem.

Our two big supermarkets are cutting prices to the bone and putting our food producers under severe economic pressure. If this issue is not addressed, we will see more farmers leave the land and our domestic food production slump. This, combined with a major climatic disaster in the US, will leave many Australian households struggling to feed their families. Cheap imports are uncertain at best. If we continue to drive Australian producers into the ground, we may find ourselves facing empty shelves and skyrocketing prices. What price the big profits then?

Edith Wilson, Kings Park

Can we help?

WHAT an unfortunate development for the Herald Sun, with the serious drop in its circulation (The Saturday Age, 7/7). Perhaps it could look to the Fairfax board for support. I believe the board has a "white knight" whom it could spare and who, allegedly, is on a mission to save "failing newspapers".

Tess Duncan, Mount Eliza

A shameful turnout

MELBOURNE is no longer a cultured city. Saturday's performance of Berlioz's Requiem Mass in the Town Hall was breathtakingly beautiful. Brilliantly conducted by Brett Kelly, the huge choir, orchestra, and the brass upstairs along the side walls did absolute justice to a masterwork. Only half the downstairs seats were available as the front half of the hall was needed for the orchestra. Nobody sat along the side seats upstairs and there were still empty seats.

It was last performed in Melbourne 30 years ago and is unlikely to be performed for another 30 years. In a city of 4 million people, the presence of only a few hundred at this event was a disgrace. The ticket price was $55 ($45 concession). Old musicals and the footy can cost hundreds of dollars a seat. The lowest common denominator has won.

We should bow our heads and weep.

Don Jordan, Mount Waverley

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