Capital switch a rational response by Australia

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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West Jerusalem reversal
The decision by the federal government to reverse the previous government’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital makes sense (“Israel blasts Labor after West Jerusalem reversal”, 19/10). Israel itself regards both east and west Jerusalem as its eternal united capital and it doesn’t make sense for Australia to, in effect, recognise half of what Israel itself regards as its capital.

The issue of Jerusalem is central to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, but is by no means the singular issue of the conflict. The propaganda wars in parts of the Jewish and Palestinian diasporas seem to be characterised by mutual claims of victimhood, but that path prevents both engagement and dialogue. Until an Israeli government is prepared to seriously address the need to formally engage with Palestinian leaders, and Palestinian leaders are prepared to negotiate on the form and boundaries of their own state, it makes no sense for Australia to regard part of Jerusalem as politically settled.
Harold Zwier, Elsternwick

Israel has the right to decide
The absurdity of not recognising West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, presumably because of its attitude to the Palestinians, smacks of comic opera. Might I suggest that in view of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Australia now recognise Vladivostok, or perhaps St Petersburg as the Russian capital. If Australia wants to locate its embassy in Tel Aviv or even in the Negev, that’s its right.

I am no apologist for the government of Israel and disagree emphatically with many of its policies, especially concerning the eviction of Palestinians from their homes and farms in order to build Jewish settlements. But the fact is, Israel’s parliament and the prime minister’s official residence are in West Jerusalem. It is the right of every state to nominate its own capital.
Barbara Zion, Hawthorn

Needless intervention
The fact that West Jerusalem has long been declared by Israel as its capital by virtue of its independent and recognised sovereignty as a nation does not prevent eastern sectors of the city from being part of future negotiations in the formation of a separate and equally recognised Palestinian state. The Labor government yesterday needlessly turned a website miscalculation into a policy statement. As uncomfortable as Penny Wong appeared, she looked for all the world like she had just declared herself the new president of the Flat Earth Society.
Andrew Zbar, Caulfield North

Pointless questions
Australian ambassador Paul Griffiths will be summoned to explain the government’s change in policy regarding Jerusalem. I would think that all Israel needs to do is look to the plethora of other countries with the same stance to arrive at the answers they are apparently seeking but already know.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Whose decision?
So Penny Wong defends Labor’s reversal of the Coalition’s decision to recognise West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital because the previous policy offended Indonesia. Well, I suppose that makes a change from the usual charge that Australia’s foreign policy is dictated by the US.
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East

Respect for our neighbour
Congratulations to Wong for overturning Morrison’s knee-jerk Trumpian decision. Most of the world did not follow. In fact, Indonesia condemned our action. The Australian government should keep in mind that Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, is our neighbour.
Ikram Naqvi, Tinderbox, Tasmania

Admit their intentions
Decades on from the Nakba, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to agree on the two-state solution both purportedly want. Maybe if Australia, and others, did recognise Palestine, it would force both parties to get real about their intentions.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn


Bigger picture on flooding
Thank you to Liam Mannix for tackling the “elephant in the room” and explaining the “insidious role of a warming planet” in our devastating current flooding predicament (“Lurking behind the latest flood disaster is the usual suspect”, The Age, 19/10). For every degree of global warming, the atmosphere holds about 7 per cent more moisture, increasing the likelihood and intensity of flooding. Australia has, on average, warmed 1.44 degrees. Thus, floods, like coral bleaching, heatwaves, bushfires and even pandemic risks, are exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change.

Fortunately, governments are responding to community outcries and climate policy is improving. Yet we remain well short of the 75 per cent emissions cuts by 2030 that science demands. With the floods in mind, may the November election become a race to the top with candidates competing to offer voters the most ambitious climate policy.
Amy Hiller, Kew

Who pays?
As floodwater starts to subside across regional Victoria, the extent of damage to the state’s roads is slowly being revealed, with the cost of fixing these roads estimated to be huge. We already know that these floods are exacerbated by the warming climate. Are Australians content to continue paying for the ever-increasing costs of climate change, when these changes are fuelled by the fossil fuel industry who pay nothing?
Ching Ang, Magill

Canal risk
Many correspondents (Letters, 19/10) have written about government bodies failing in their duty to prevent housing development on floodplains. In this light, consider the many houses built along the Elwood Canal decades ago. Since then, the canal has had one extra outlet constructed to reduce flooding in heavy rains. Modelling shows much of the area around the canal will be under water in years to come due to rising sea levels. In the meantime, the Port Phillip council should not permit the building of multi-storey developments on the canal as it is now doing.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Helping hands
As we reflect on the hard work being done to help and to save people in the floods, it’s worth remembering that nearly all emergency services people are volunteers. Perhaps, when this is over, people living in these zones could consider joining their local SES or, in summer, their CFA. Volunteers have to come from somewhere.
Ross Crawford, Frankston

Animals were trapped
While the media are amply covering the fate of people who built on floodplains, there is scarce mention of the animals. There should be a law against fencing livestock onto floodplains. In contrast to the humans, the animals did not choose to be there. And let’s not report them as “lost”. They drowned.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

Sponsor standards
In the past week, netballers representing Australia have made a stand against Gina Rinehart’s father’s racism, and the Australian men’s cricket captain has made a stand against fossil fuels (“Cummins raised Alinta objection”, 19/10). When will an AFL player make a stand against the gambling industry sponsors that prey on the vulnerable?
Gabriel Dabscheck, Elsternwick

Neutral views
Full marks to climate-conscious sportspeople concerned about sponsorship from companies associated with high levels of carbon emissions. Some of us would also be very comforted to learn of sportspeople’s contributions to carbon dioxide offset schemes as they wing their way around the world.
Graham Black, Hamilton

BOM out
Isn’t it great to see the BoM has time to devote to other things rather than concentrating on its core business of predicting the weather. Why it thinks spending $70,000 of taxpayers money on rebranding itself is a mystery (“BoM’s away as bureau makes heavy weather of its rebrand”, 19/10). “The Bureau” sounds like some clandestine government spook organisation.

Perhaps the BoM should just concentrate on the weather and climate change. I for one will always know and refer to it as the BoM or maybe even, when I am feeling adventurous, the BOM.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Check it out
Mike Webster asks why he can’t check what his GP has claimed on his behalf (Letters, 19/10). He can. A Medicare online account details the name of every GP or specialist visited, every medical procedure, and the amount claimed.
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

The right idea
China’s autocratic leader, Xi Jinping, has got one thing right with his statement, cited in your editorial (19/10), that “houses are built to be inhabited, not for speculation”. If only Australians had heeded this sage advice in recent times.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Textbook failure
Some of your correspondents have been suggesting that relying on a textbook is the answer to relieving pressures on teachers’ preparation time (Letters, 19/10). Unfortunately, while textbooks may provide the required information, they rarely provide the multiple ways of presenting that information necessary for meeting the needs of all students in the class.
Much planning is needed to devise ways of bringing textbook material to life. It is no longer educationally sound to have students read the chapter and answer the questions at the end. That’s not what teaching is.
Keith Fletcher, Bali, Indonesia

Education advice
I find David Cross’s analysis of the role of VCE results troubling (“Stop saying the VCE doesn’t matter. It does”, 19/10). I suspect he has not had a child go through the experience in the past three years.

He provides a rather simplistic view of three groups of people who seek to downplay the importance of a high TER score. He is particularly disparaging of the third group, who seem in his eyes to be a bunch of do-gooders who have little interest in the maintenance of a strong education system.
Perhaps I could add a fourth group: paediatricians, psychologists and allied health professionals. This group has worked exhaustively to help vulnerable people navigate a challenging set of circumstances in the latter years of their secondary education. I am one of them and have no qualms in telling students with significant mental health issues that VCE is just another step in their life journey.
Simon Costello, Albert Park

Not only cosmetic
While the cosmetic surgery sector has been abused (“Cosmetic Cowboys worst offenders”, The Age, 19/10) we need to remember that not all so-called “cosmetic procedures” are for cosmetic reasons: for example, breast reduction surgery is done because the weight of the breasts can lead to back deformities. Tummy tucks are done for those who suffer severe excoriation from the friction of rubbing skin.

The public needs to question practitioners’ qualifications. Cosmetic surgery should only be done by those registered with the Australian Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Maria Liew, Woodend

Brave Iranian women
It is a horrific world when women can’t show their faces in public or bare their skin to the sunshine and the wind because of what some cruel idiotic men say is God’s word. What god would deny half of humanity such simple pleasures? Go for it, you wonderful women of Iran.
John Rome, Mt Lawley, WA

Fortnightly jam
Some of Melbourne’s mechanised garbage collection contractors seem to be losing a hard-learned skill of their pavement-pounding, blue-singlet predecessors. That is, how to empty a rubbish bin, as I have sadly observed since local councils made residential landfill bin pick-ups fortnightly. My council tells me garbos say people cramming two weeks’ garbage into what was once a weekly bin collection has made fully emptying compacted contents more difficult. As a result, often under-appreciated garbos cop flack while their councils reap extra income by encouraging residents to “voluntarily” pay higher rates for bigger bins.
Steve Pivetta, Mount Waverley

Smiles for Jack
Even in death Jack Charles was able to put smiles on the 2000-odd faces attending his state funeral in Hamer Hall (“Full of magic’: Uncle Jack Charles remembered”, 19/10). As the wafting scent of burning gum leaves hit us in the balconies, young and old laughed together at stories of this remarkable man. Jack wanted his funeral live streamed in all prisons and detention centres as a message of hope to those behind bars and in dark places – places he was able to escape from.
Leon Zembekis, Reservoir

Lost assets
Last Friday’s decision by the Heritage Council of Victoria to add Flinders Pier to the state’s heritage register provides certainty for a pier originally earmarked for partial demolition without any consultation. No pier or jetty in Victoria should ever again face a similar threat.

In the case of Flinders Pier, mobilised community effort was able to reverse the decision to demolish it. But what about the other piers and jetties around our state? At Warneet, for example, the same strategy has again been deployed where a jetty has been closed without warning, a section removed to stop public access, and plans announced for its demolition. Our piers and jetties are part of the fabric of our country. We have long neglected the historic and economic contribution of our piers in Victoria. Once a pier or jetty vanishes from the water, it is unlikely to ever be rebuilt. So let’s make sure we save the ones that we already have.
Charles Reis, Flinders

And another thing

Credit:Matt Golding

That kids are poor at punctuation is bad (“Students’ writing skills in ‘serious decline’”, The Age, 19/1). That young adults are poor at grammar is worse. I just heard a young ABC TV reporter say “… in the future going forward”.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Bureau of Meteorology
Perhaps the mob at the BoM were under the weather when deciding on the need for a name change.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Don’t drop the BoM!
Warwick Ruse, Brunswick West

Nick Cave refers to the “casual cruelty” in the world and how his grief was cynically discounted, while people affected by floods are mocked about where they built their homes. I hope we can begin to show greater compassion when people are suffering.
Irene Renzenbrink, North Fitzroy

I reckon I’ll have five bob each way the proposed inquiry by Melbourne Water into the wall around Flemington Racecourse will be nobbled.
Denis Evans, Coburg

I am now expecting Israel to not recognise Canberra as the Australian capital (The Age, 19/10). Upon reflection … can Melbourne please be the new capital?
John Simmonds, Fitzroy

Could somebody please direct me to a government-funded program that isn’t being rorted?
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

It wasn’t Scott Morrison who paid for the Mickleham quarantine centre (Letters, 19/10), it was the taxpayer; after Andrews pushed relentlessly for it to be built. Thanks, Dan.
Peter Campbell, Newport

The Australian Diamonds netball team should be proud to be sponsored by Gina Rinehart, since mines (and factories) are the jewels underpinning global civilisation.
Rod Matthews, Fairfield

The clue “runs in stockings” (19/1) assumes, perhaps correctly, that all crossword solvers are over 70.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn

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