IT was inevitable that we had to have a change in direction to our education system, and at the same time admit that not all children are in the genius category. Why teach every student engaged in secondary education subjects like algebra, trigonometry, physics and chemistry when they will never require these skills when they leave school, unless they wish to pursue a university-based career?
I can only speak for myself, but I endured four years of study of these exact subjects and not once have I needed to call on any of what I had learned. After two years of secondary schooling a student should have an idea of what direction they should take when they leave school, either at year 10 or 12. If a student wishes to become a carpenter, why not immediately direct them to a TAFE course in carpentry, rather than waste additional years learning subjects that will have no bearing on their future?
These young adults need to be directed along a pathway of learning that suits their abilities and all their interests because I'm sure many of today's students attend classes and listen but don't hear because the subject being taught is just plain boring.
Australia is in critical need of skilled workers, but they don't all have to be in the professional university ranks. I am wondering whether our educators have ever asked our kids what they would like to be taught rather than the reverse. Good luck.
Rob Bernasconi, Rankin Park
Church's distinctions hurt victims
GEORGE Pell was acquitted on the grounds that there was "a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof" even though a jury had "assessed the complainant's evidence as thoroughly credible and reliable". There is a difference between this assessment and being found not guilty, Trevor J Bates and Peter Dolan (Short Takes, 24/6).
Regarding Pell's legal fees, the Catholic Church may not have directly paid his costs but they did set up and advertise a fund to allow his many supporters to contribute.
While he has been acquitted by the High Court concerning the sexual abuse of two choir boys, the findings of the Royal Commission have said they were satisfied that by 1973 Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy but that "he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it".
IN OTHER NEWS:
Chrissie Foster had two daughters who were sexually abused by a priest, one of whom committed suicide. She, along with a huge number of others, have spent a good deal of their lives trying to get justice from a Church that has hindered their every step.
Bishop Anthony Fisher's dismissive remark at a news conference back in 2008 reinforced the church's attitude to people like Chrissie when he remarked that they were "dwelling crankily on old wounds".
Julie Robinson, Cardiff
Interest accrues on foreign cash
JOHN Tierney's article ('Poking the bear from an economic trap', Opinion 23/6) has some good points in it; yet as I recall he in the Senate did not protect the Australian interests and resist the rush to a one world economic culture. The GATT decisions and the World Trade Organisations that were and are supported by both sides of government are the scourge of the economy and a problem of Australia. Our problem is we actually have too few goods produced here and we export raw materials for others to process. As well, we permit unlimited (it seems) levels of foreign investment into Australian businesses, whereby Australia has very few large businesses in this country that are Australian owned.
Mr Tierney, as so many other members of the Parliament, brought the lie of comparative advantage without understanding the details of why it cannot work if a workforce is not fully mobile. The process workers and manufacturing workers are not fully mobile as their skill set is limited. The further lie that these trade deals will make all more prosperous has been a demonstrated lie as so many former workers at the closed manufacturing positions - including the former steel workers at our own BHP Newcastle - were never able to obtain meaningful employment after the businesses closed down.
He was a part of the problem in not understanding what national independence is all about and how it includes the capacity to produce most goods needed by a nation. Foreign investment is excellent as long as a foreign power does not get a controlling interest in the investment portfolio; this is the very reason why a person serving in the federal parliament ought not to be a citizen of another country. It is called a conflict of interest.
We can see that the concept of conflict of interest has never concerned any member of parliament when they are in government, but only when they are in opposition. It is not entirely Mr Tierney's fault as the party machinery had huge emotive speakers (as also the ALP has) who know how to spin a yarn and to be so convincing.
I am pleased Mr Tierney sees some errors of the past but in the area of foreign investment the Australian national interest must be identified as to the level of influence the investment will have. In most cases it must be well below 20 per cent or the interest could be too significant to be acceptable. We need Australia back again.
Milton Caine, Birmingham Gardens
Name game permeates our lives
WELL, I believe we have almost reached the point of no return on the issue of offensive names so it is now time we looked in our own backyard. Sad as it is, I think many of our beloved institutions and areas will have to go.
Let's start with the town that many of us have called home for many years: Newcastle surely must be a hangover from our colonial past. Now this really pains me, but the Knights - those barbarians, rapists and pillagers from another time - their very name must offend many. We all should remember the early seasons were ominously referred to as the Crusades, but obviously that name will have to go. Don't forget the Souths Lions, an obvious reference to our imperial past; and the Cessnock Goannas, named for a creature very sacred to some Indigenous people, much like the Kangaroos and the Wallabies.
MORE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Lake Macquarie; another hangover from our past, will have to go. New South Wales, named by James Cook as it appeared very much like the south part of Wales, will have to go.
What about the great St George Dragons? This team carries the name of the patron saint of the greatest imperial power of all time. Can we really still accept this?
The list is endless in all areas. For music we must ban Island Girl and Honky Tonk Women. Mick and Elton may not be happy, but so be it. On sweets, the freckle will have to go lest our freckle-faced friends are offended. Sad!
Raymond Stewart, Charlestown
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MARILYN Frost (Short Takes, 19/6) hits the nail on the head with her comments on the JobKeeper payments to the Catholic Church. Is this just another money making grab which in my opinion is immoral, not needed and certainly not in the spirit of the JobKeeper payment legislation? Surely the Catholic Church decision makers must know JobKeeper payments are intended to go to people in need to spend and help the economy moving.
Ian King, Warners Bay
HISTORY has a habit of reminding us of those Pearl Harbor moments. Like the two army radar operators on the northern side of Oahu whose warnings of an approaching large swarm of unidentified aircraft were ignored, the Australian population was warned of the risk of a potentially more deadly second wave of COVID-19 if isolation and distancing restrictions were not followed. I'm not necessarily blaming individuals subjected to unprecedented levels of uncertainty, insecurity, lost income, stress and mixed messaging from political leaders. Our political leaders have also been the subject of unrelenting commercial pressures to relax pandemic controls. I sincerely hope the unfolding days and weeks of this deadly contagion do not become another Pearl Harbor moment here and nationally.
Tony Brown, Newcastle
JUST how much longer are we to suffer for John Hewson losing the 1993 federal election? Time after time after time in his opinion pieces Mr Hewson berates the Coalition and in my opinion displays a lack of even-handedness in his diatribes. He berates our current government for all sorts of reasons but rarely, if ever, provides any solutions that are realistically doable. Newcastle Herald letter writers can be relied on to criticise both sides of the political aisle, without the need for Mr Hewson to continually vent his spleen just because he lost the unloseable election.
Mike Sargent, Cootamundra
IT is amazing that when the government takes a product off the subsidised pharmaceutical list no-one is informed. It is only when you turn up to the chemist and are told you have to pay the full amount for that item as it is no longer subsidised that you find out. This week I went to the chemist to pick up my scripts and was told that my sleeping tablets were $27.50, and I am on the free list as a Department of Veterans Affairs gold card pensioner. The chemist informed me many other medicines are no longer subsidised. If the government can spruik anything that makes them look good, how about letting the people know about the things that won't win votes?
Bob Couper, Budgewoi
PETER Devey asserts that more renewables in grid supply pushes up costs of electricity, but you have to look at the bidding process to supply power to the grid. Renewables offer lower costs than coal and gas to put electricity into the grid, but the final bid to put electricity into the grid is normally gas and quite high. That sets the price that generators get paid for electricity supply to the grid. Renewables do not mind that, since they have zero fuel costs.