Barilaro’s choice of word in his ultimatum to the Liberals is interesting. “Put up or shut up” and “It’s simple: if you don’t like it, you know where the door is” were precisely what Gladys Berejiklian and the Liberals were saying to him and his bovver mates in the National Party before they chickened out. But then, irony is lost on this bloke. – Thiam Ang, Beecroft

I assume that Barilaro was taking his daughter to Taronga Zoo at the weekend so that she could see koalas before they became extinct. – John Connell, Bronte

It would appear that Barilaro is stuck out on a limb. Hark! Is that the low rumble of a bulldozer approaching? – Peter Dixon, Garran, ACT

Just confirms the adage that empty Barilaros make the loudest noise. – Don Landers, Northbridge

A very bitter end awaits our elders

The physical assault of the elderly in nursing homes (“Assaults inaction dismays experts“, September 14) is just the tip of the iceberg in the neglect of residents in these institutions. Harder to discern and thus hidden from accreditation processes are those practices where people are left to languish for hours each day without stimulation other than a blaring TV; where physiotherapy to maintain mobility is absent; where meals go uneaten; where diapers are changed too infrequently and fluids are restricted to defray the expense of disposable pants, and where medical conditions are undiagnosed due to a lack of nursing expertise and staff shortages. I weep for all those elderly people sentenced to live out their final days in such conditions where their only “crime” was to have lived beyond their “usefulness” date. – Elizabeth Maher, Bangor

State and federal politicians have known for years that aged care has been in dangerous disarray. No action was taken to regulate nursing home care, and every issue was swept under the carpet. The ratio of carers to patients has been abysmal, leaving our vulnerable elderly often unfed, unwashed and under- or over-medicated. Staffing is reduced to the lowest common denominator, leaving nurses overworked and stressed. A six-week “assistance in elderly care” course, and then employment through an agency, is totally inadequate, leading to more harm. Not blameless are the nursing home proprietors who have seized on the lack of regulation for more profit. All these failings have been obvious – and the consequences of the lack of political responsibility for a group of defenceless elderly has been a disgrace. Hopefully, if nothing else, this pandemic will bring about positive change in aged care. – Christina Foo, Wahroonga

Two handouts, one jar: compare the pair

Company profits up by 14.9 per cent in the June quarter, while wages and salaries fell by a record 2.5 per cent (“Thousands of JobKeeper rort claims, no fines”, September 14). So business isn’t doing it as tough as we thought. And the Tax Office says that if a business makes “an honest mistake”, an overpayment may not have to be repaid. Well, what a contrast to the harsh treatment of the jobless and underemployed people and their measly robo-debt “mistakes”. – Graham Lawson, Birchgrove

What else would you expect from this Coalition of big business? Robo-debts for the poor and the disadvantaged, but not for captains of industry. And, of course, silence still from the normally shrill Senator Cash when businesses underpay their workers. Does this government have any shred of decency and morality left? – Severino Milazzo, Maroubra

Warriors may be wary of Trump bait

Dimitri Burshtein’s concern that China might invade Taiwan to seize its semiconductor facilities is misguided (“Echoes of Pearl Harbour in tech boycott“, September 14). With less than two months to go until the US election, the last thing China wants is to provoke an international military crisis that gives the hawks a chance to deploy their B-52s, rally American public opinion around the incumbent commander-in-chief and give Trump four more years. A two-term Trump presidency will no doubt permanently damage America’s leadership role in the free world, all for the long-term strategic benefit of a rising Chinese superpower. But China’s short-term interest lies in a defeated Trump to avoid another round of his suicide bomber-style trade war. Burshtein invokes Pearl Harbour as an analogy of a cornered power striking out. Perhaps a more relevant correlation is the defeat of an overconfident Japan after waking up the sleeping giant of the United States. – Han Yang, North Turramurra

“An old, mad, blind, despised and dying king/ Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow/
through public scorn/ mud from a muddy spring.” So wrote Shelley, child of liberty and the French Revolution, of political oppression 200 years ago. Now, with environmental collapse and a global pandemic, the same mindset from our global superpowers; and talk of war. War? When will these old men finally admit total, abject failure – and we replace their odious power with the nurturing instinct of women? – Sue Young, Bensville

Splintered states need a broad vision

Remember the much vaunted phrase “we’re all in this together”? At present NSW has closed itself off to Victoria while berating Queensland over its closures. Queensland is closed off to all but footy players and movie stars. Tasmania and South Australia are harder to get into than the Senate. And Western Australia is talking of succession, again! The Northern Territory is making plans to allow select visitors, while the ACT, despite no cases for months, is still isolated. And the poor Victorians have barred no one (except themselves) and still no one wants to go there. I’d hate to see an Australia when we’re not all in this together but divided by political agendas. – David Sargeant, Jannali

Why isn’t the government building quarantine stations? We have limited likelihood of a vaccine and we need to reopen our borders for travel. Short-term taxpayer funding of hotels is not the answer. Where is the federal government’s long-term plan to move Australia to a COVID-managed state? – David Evans, Boorowa

Keeping them honest

There is something very rotten at the heart of the NSW Police Force (“Scott’s lawyer calls on Raider to sue police for wrongful arrest“, September 12). The decision to pursue the malicious prosecution of footballer Curtis Scott in court, even after viewing the bodycam video, is astonishing. Officers handcuffed, punched, pepper-sprayed, tasered and arrested an innocent, helpless man. And if that wasn’t enough, they charged him with assaulting them. Curtis, fortunately, had the full backing of his club and their high-powered legal team. The NSW Police almost destroyed Scott’s career and life. But what if he had been Bill the bricklayer from Bankstown. Would the ending have been the same? – Don Fischer, Goulburn

What rubbish!

The story of illegal toxic waste being dumped at Riverstone (“Dumped-on residents dismayed by EPS“, September 13) is nothing short of scandalous. Despite photographic evidence, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is passing the buck to the innocent landowners to clean up the mess. Taxpayers want action taken against law breakers who harm the environment. Nothing short of direct intervention in this Riverstone fiasco by Matt Kean, the Minister for Energy and the Environment, should be acceptable. – Stewart Smith, Tea Gardens

The maard tweeter

Clearly the anonymous tweeter Maardrix is trying to influence the court (“‘Case is falling apart’: jail threat for mystery tweeter in Obeid case“, September 14). And clearly this is against the law. Does Twitter bear any responsibility for facilitating this illegal activity? If it had the inclination, it could close the account or, shock horror, reveal the criminal’s identity to police. – Jeremy Light, Mosman

Bypass passes muster

That Blue Mountains residents want a tunnel makes interesting, if not original, reading (“Mountains residents want tunnel to beat congestion“, September 14). I urge the open-minded residents of the mountain settlements to visit both Berry and Goulburn. Both towns have been bypassed and have become places to to “go to” rather than ones to “get past”. – David Davies, Callala Beach

Most of the time gained by the motorway upgrade between Lithgow and Katoomba will be lost between Katoomba and Penrith as the highway returns to being a suburban road with more than 25 sets of traffic lights, many school zones and innumerable driveways. Building more roads does not “remove congestion”, it just moves it from one place to another. And the cost? About $1 billion for every minute of travel time saved. Transport for NSW won’t investigate upgrading rail infrastructure, which would be more cost-effective. No one wants to deny the residents of Blackheath and Medlow Bath amenity. Preserving the environment is essential too, but all the options need to be considered. – Chris O’Rourke, Bathurst

Walking over a ‘waste land’

I cannot understand why the City of Sydney opposes a land bridge linking Sydney Park with the lands surrounding WestConnex at St Peters (“WestConnex park site ‘highly contaminated’“, September 14). The thought that Sydney Park users would have to wait at traffic lights in order to get across the six lanes of Campbell Street made my heart sink. An aesthetically pleasing land bridge that is landscaped and easily navigable by pedestrians and cyclists cannot be beyond our ability, can it? – Peter Olive, Marrickville

In discussing our changing language, it is Orwellian newspeak to describe the surplus, desecrated land around tollroad interchanges as “parkland”. Given that they contain the excavated spoil from construction, perhaps these uncongenial areas should be called “spoilt land”, or more fittingly, after T.S. Eliot, the “waste land”. – Evan Bailey, Glebe

It was 20 years ago today…

Today marks 20 years since the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics. Knowing that we’d be on the world stage, I fretted about the image of the bare trees, watching them on my daily train ride into the city. I willed them to burst into leaf, and they did just before the big day, and the city looked amazing. The weeks that followed were some of the happiest I’ve experienced in Sydney. Those cynics who chose to leave the city because “it would all be chaos” sadly missed out. – Rosemary Penman, Summer Hill

I watched the Freeman program (ABC, September 13) with a growing lump in the throat. The year 2000, with the Olympics and the fantastic Sydney Harbour Bridge walk for Indigenous rights, were unforgettable experiences. Bob Carr’s reminiscences chronicle the t–ime’s sense of swelling national pride (“Playing the Games to perfection”, September 14) and Freeman’s magnificent run was undoubtedly the pinnacle – one that brought us all together, albeit momentarily. Twenty years on and considering the plight of First Australians and the way we are now retreating into our local territories during COVID, there’s plenty of unfinished business. Where are the leaders to help us take the journey that reunites us all? – Cleveland Rose, Dee Why

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