HAS anyone else noticed that the number of humpback whales migrating south this year seems to be less than one-third the average number for the four previous years? My home overlooks the ocean and my lifestyle and counting procedure have been virtually identical during that time.
And if you have noticed, can you offer an explanation – perhaps one of the following: (a) just a statistical anomaly; (b) the whales are migrating further out to sea (beyond the horizon) perhaps to avoid the effects of the recent seabed-pulverizing search for natural gas; (c) global weather changes have resulted in the northern seas becoming much warmer and the whales are doing research to find out why; (d) the Japanese ‘whale research’ efforts have moved to the Timor Sea to escape Australian surveillance with the expected resulting collapse of the whale population; (e) the Australian government thought that the whales were illegal immigrants and have confined them to an area around Manus Island until their documentation can be confirmed. Other suggestions would be welcomed.
Norton Jacobi, Redhead
SCHOOL SHOULD BE SECULAR
JOANNE McCarthy (‘Freedom to think’, Weekender 6/10) clearly spells out a major problem in Australia: the relentless grip of the church on the minds of children in particular and the Australian population in general. Children attending Catholic, “Christian” and other religious schools are indoctrinated daily about the beliefs and practices of a particular religion. There is no escape. The kids are in the clutches of the church, every school day.
The peculiar aspect of this phenomenon is that at least 30 per cent of all Australians profess “no religion” (2016 Census) and only about 8 per cent of Australians attend church on a regular basis. The really extraordinary phenomenon currently in Australia is that whereas only a few decades ago, most children in Australia attended state (public) secular schools, today nearly 40 per cent of children are enrolled in private (invariably religious) schools. Huge amounts of public money are poured into these religious schools, while many students in public schools are taught in underfunded government schools.
Australia, being a secular, and not a “Christian” society, once had a clear separation of church and state, with education left largely to public schools and parents wishing to have their children to receive some religious indoctrination sending them to Sunday schools.
Compounding the new phenomenon, Australia is stuck with a newly minted Prime Minister who is a devotee of the “talk-in-tongues” Pentecostal movement and who, for example, believes that you can pray to “God” to bring rain to break the drought. Now even more public money is to be injected into religious schools.
It is high time that Australia stood up for its long-established secular ethos where there should be both freedom of religion and freedom from religion. Education should be religion-free. Currently, the churches are trying desperately to cling to their power over the masses. Those of us who wish to claim freedom of thought and to protect a non-religious approach to the education of our children should strongly resist the current take-over of school education by the various religions.
Kevin McDonald, East Seaham
LESSONS OF THE PAST
I READ with interest both Joanne McCarthy (‘Freedom to think’, Weekender 6/10) and Jeff Corbett (‘Trash we had treasured’, Opinion 6/10). The running theme in both articles was that many beliefs and values we held in the past are no longer relevant. We believed that many of our possessions would last forever and that we could accept that people in power knew best and should not be questioned. We did not see the corruption in powerful people and institutions, nor did we see that goods would be produced in quantity much cheaper than in past years. And yet some of us still collect what is important to us: perhaps treasured gifts from loved ones, trinkets from our travels and of course family photos. Yes, actual printed photos.
I hope that the youth of today choose wisely what to treasure and what to keep. I hope they question the status quo, because that is how we move forward to a better future, but remember our past.
As much as I attempt to collect less, Jeff Corbett, I have a fascination for old typewriters and often wonder what might have been written on them. Perhaps legal documents, or maybe a romantic novel. The written word will always be treasured and it is what we leave behind.
In the past we should have questioned our Christian leaders, our financial institutions, our councils and governments, scout leaders and the medical institutions, our teachers and anyone in a position of trusted power. It’s not too late.
Denise Lindus Trummel, Mayfield
NO BENEFIT IN SAILS PITCH
CAN anyone remember the brave people who climbed the sails of the Opera House years ago and painted NO WAR to protest our government sending young Australians off to yet another American military disaster? These protesters were fined very heavily and threatened with jail terms.
Given the state government's stupid and craven decision to advertise a horse race on the Opera House, perhaps the protesters should have been prominent donors to the Liberals, had the ridiculous Alan Jones on board or threatened the curator with the sack if she didn't capitulate. Unfortunately for them, they were able to wrangle none of these things.
What's next? Maybe the golden arches on Uluru, Ladbrokes on the Harbour Bridge? What about KFC on Parliament house? Australia's iconic landmarks should not be for sale for tacky advertising and those supporting this abhorrent act, both Labor and Liberal should be ashamed and disgusted with themselves. PS: One of the benefits of living in Newcastle/Lake Macquarie is that Alan Jones doesn't. Who voted for this dingbat and his bloated ego?
John Lawton, Belmont
STARTING ON THE SLIDE
SO when shock jock Alan Jones saw approval initially denied to put an ad for a horse race on the sails of our iconic Opera House sails by the chief executive, Louise Herron, he took his complaint to Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who took his side and over-ruled. It is Ms Herron’s job to follow the Opera House charter. You've heard of the slippery slope? Well, I think Ms Berejiklian has just oiled the top of the slope. It's all downhill from now. What's next? Ads for sunscreen, legal firms, political elections? The mind boggles.
Thurza Snelson, Merewether
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