Letters to the editor Tuesday February 6 2018

CHEER FOR US: Sinead Francis-Coan argues cheerleaders' role as supporters is outdated in the era of sporting superstars like Sam Kerr. Picture: Louise Kennerley

CHEER FOR US: Sinead Francis-Coan argues cheerleaders' role as supporters is outdated in the era of sporting superstars like Sam Kerr. Picture: Louise Kennerley

WE must do better.

I am highly disappointed in the recent piece on Newcastle Knights cheerleaders and sexism (“Equality, feminism and cheerleaders”, Topics 3/2). The tone is perhaps misguided and treats a serious matter with light-hearted triviality.

Firstly, I fail to believe that there were no competent female journalists at the Herald who could cover a story on sexism against women… Secondly, the piece spoke to one woman only, who is no doubt supportive of her team. I feel I must now clarify that I support the cheerleaders and always have, but their role as supporters of first-grade mens’ sporting teams is outdated when our WAFL is taking off and teams like the Matildas are a national triumph. Women can actually play sport, too.

Let’s look at the problems here. Yes, women should be able to wear what they want, but we know we live in a time where people believe they are entitled to womens’ bodies.  Finally, cheerleaders are selected (apart from other things) based on their physical appearance, which sends an unhealthy message to all women and especially young girls that this is acceptable selection criteria. But in this day and age, you could have known all that. 

Sinead Francis-Coan, Newcastle

I SPY WITH MY LITTLE GUISE

AS a consequence of the ABC purchasing several “locked” filing cabinets full of “top secret” cabinet documents at a Canberra garage sale recently, weekends checking out the op shops or garage sales around our national capital will never be quite the same.

Australia’s security agencies are certain to have now introduced changes to the method of operation for our nation’s op shop and family garage sale venues. When next you visit a Canberra op shop, be on the lookout for increases to its staffing numbers. In particular, look for any new member of the staff wearing wraparound dark glasses constantly rifling through the same clothes rack. Possibly, that person is actually a “spook” surreptitiously taking photos of anyone studying used books on aerial maps or electronics.

At Canberra garage sales, if the usual old bloke at the gate checking that no one leaves without paying for sale items has been replaced by a heavy set man in dark glasses and a three-piece suit it must be assumed a “spook” or two, disguised as grubby “lefty” clothing, love beads and wearing long socks with sandals for effect, are there mingling among the genuine sale browsers. Subtlety has never been our security agencies’ strong suit.

Barry Swan, Balgownie

CUT OUT THE SLASHED TAXES

IT seems that those economists who support tax cuts have forgotten history. President Ronald Regan introduced big tax cuts with promises of economic miracles but doubled the national debt. John Howard went down the same path introducing the over-60 superannuation tax holiday and other super concessions, family payments to middle-income households, age-based tax concessions and more, all of which put pressure on housing demand. Then Rudd followed suit after a vote winning contest at the election without explaining how they would be funded. And there is the rub, unless there is a boost in government revenue tax cuts are funded by government debt or spending cuts to education, health, research and infrastructure supply leaving us all worse off.

Don Owers, Dudley

UNIMPRESSED BY ARTISTS

THE use of an artist's impression to sell us changes seemingly approved by the community is a technique known well in Newcastle. It assures us that present inconvenience and destruction will be worth the resulting renewal.

It therefore beggars belief that the artist's impression on show in Council Street reveals a mean and tidy street, a naked street devoid of charm, anonymity its most prominent feature. This is not renewal. Does the necessary renewal of infrastructure to make city life tolerable have to come at the expense of individuality, creativity and empathy?  

We need a council with vision to look beyond drains and roads. Council Street with angle parking, cars backing in and taking off may be no safer now. Overnight, residents are now exposed in their living rooms to the eyes of neighbours living opposite. Privacy has gone. Balcony gardens protest. Trees standing at the end of the street are trembling as if, like animals, they smell death in the air. Council Street is not the street it was - a sanctuary for residents and birds. Gone is its unique village quality. The essential character of the street has not been renewed and no adequate substitute is in sight.

Rosemary Bunker, Cooks Hill

LEARN CHANGE IS CONSTANT

SCOTT Hillard (Letters 5/2) believes countries that score highly on international educational tests are those we should copy, except for Finland because it is the “darling of the left”. He confuses being excellent at test-taking with providing an authentic education. Someone wise once said, “…not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. The irony that Finland, which does not value and does not utilise systemic testing of children, can still score highly on international tests when necessary seems to elude him. Teachers are interested in the Finnish system because it is innovative and progressive – just like the world the children are growing up into.

Mr Hillard seems to yearn for traditional methods such as rote learning to fix perceived educational ills. The world doesn’t do communication like it did in the ’50s, or for that matter transport, business and commerce, agriculture or even war. For some reason educational delivery should stay in the past for traditionalist, conservative types. Teachers believe differently.

John Arnold, Singleton

CARE IS NAME OF THE GAME

LONG ago working in childcare was for the love of the job, like nursing. You knew full well that wages were not great and there was no advancement.

If you want to strike then that is your prerogative. Remember, higher wages brings higher charges, less families, less work. On July 1 there are  dramatic changes to the payments for families.  Many families will be rethinking if they can afford to work and pay high child care fees. Maybe it’s time to look for another career before it’s too late.

Amanda Johnstone, Mayfield

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