For-profit industry is broken, must be fixed

Watching the budget reply speech, my heart sank as I confronted the choices for prime minister in the near future. This man, or Peter Dutton. What hope can I dredge out of that? Bob Liddelow, Avalon

The PM’s body language during the Opposition Leader’s budget reply was a disgrace. Rude, petulant, disrespectful, childlike, even Trump-like, and certainly not becoming of the political leader of modern Australia. Stephen Wilson, Kangaroo Valley

Homes expose Australian myth

Your opinion piece regarding home ownership refers to the government’s belief that Australia is a “home-owning democracy” and, more specifically, that living under a landlord represents a “failure of that ideal” (“Dream on: budget betrays ‘home-owning democracy”’, April 1). This is a perfect example of the miserable cold-hearted attitude of this government. It is saying that if you are a renter, you are a failure, a leaner, it is your fault and we don’t care about you. Sink or swim. Graham Lawson, Birchgrove

It is not alright for one family to be able to buy a single home for more than $60 million when

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500,000 very low-income renters “will remain in rental stress” (“Trophy home sold for more than $60m”, April 1). What price “home-owning democracy” indeed, as figures such as these expose the reality behind the myth of Australia as an egalitarian society. Anne Ring, Coogee

Your editorial rightly points out that yet another nudge to the demand side will do nothing to make homes affordable (“Budget fails to address high housing costs”, March 31). It just pushes more people into a market competing for the same number of houses. We need to address the supply side – make more houses available to would-be homeowners. That includes making real estate less attractive as an investment. That puts more houses on the market to meet the demand and should go hand-in-hand with long-term planning as to the number of houses required. It requires a government with the courage to address negative gearing and implement plans for the future. Neville Turbit, Russell Lea

The PM’s remark that the best way to support a renter is for them to buy a house shows once again how out of touch he is. It was not that long ago that those with a good and essential job, such as a teacher, policeman, factory worker, nurse or government employee, were able to buy a median-priced home. His government’s policies resulting in soaring house prices and low wage growth have made that much more difficult. Martin Lewis, Baulkham Hills

Last bark

There may be poodles and mongrels in our Parliament, but what George Christensen seems to have never grasped is that being elected as a member of Parliament is being elected to represent the consensus of opinions of his constituency, not to use it to push individual agendas (“‘Mongrel’ Christensen farewells Parliament”, April 1). Farewell George, you won’t be missed. Tony Bennett, Broke

Most pollies who bow out of Parliament are often catapulted into high-ranking positions. As the ambassador’s job in the Philippines is filled, what can be found for someone who was a true “mongrel” for 11 years? The hardware store often looks for blokes who wear singlets and rock politically incorrect tattoos, without prejudice about their odd world views. Brian Thornton, Stanmore

Big in heart

I come from a long line of vertically challenged humans (“In short, don’t just size up tall men”, April 1). As a woman, my diminutive stature has been seen as a positive, however, my husband laments his dating history as a 5′ 8″ man. Too often he didn’t fit the prospective match criteria – their loss. There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all when it comes to relationships, but by any measure the men in my family and the man in my home stand head and shoulders above the big boys. Janet Argall, Dulwich Hill

Ukraine needs our support now to ensure its survival

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In the wake of floods, bushfire and drought it is a moot point shaking an angry fist at nature (“Zelensky appeals to Australia for armoured vehicles and weapons”, April 1). But when belligerent forces declare war on their neighbour, the fist is firmly clenched. As Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alluded to, Australia is an island but not a nation in isolation from the machinations of world politics. Australia can lift its game a notch or two and offer greater immediate support to Ukraine’s survival and sovereignty. The stakes of this conflict lie well beyond the borders of their country. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

Vladimir Putin’s actions are far too sinister and cruel to suggest the Ukrainian President makes a compelling case for Australia’s support (“Zelensky makes compelling case for our support”, April 1). Putin has blasted sovereignty, for which Volodymyr Zelensky and Ukrainians have made the most poignant plea for sovereignty’s sanctity. Putin alone has made the extremely compelling case for Australian support. Graeme Tychsen, Toronto

Flood relief

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

As a kid in Ballina in the 1940s I remember the radio flood reports from the Richmond and Wilson rivers, with people being instructed to move to higher ground (“‘Traumatised’ north coast community faces long recovery’”, April 1). Awful then but 80 years on the situation is catastrophic. The state government needs to take urgent action to set up the infrastructure to move the Lismore CBD to higher ground. No doubt there is Crown land to be made available and government schemes to help people buy and rebuild. Mention of flood relief was totally absent from the budget so the Perrottet government needs to get started. The bushfire victims down south are still suffering years on. Planning for a new Lismore should start now. Jan Aitkin, Balmain

Never has it been so evident that Australia in suffering from the want of smart dams. Smart dams are those of the right size and constructed in the right places to prevent, or at least nullify, the destructive nature of major floods and fully exploit the abundance of water. Smart leaders are those who would have built smart dams and plenty of them. Never has it been so evident that Australia in suffering from the want of smart leaders. John Lewis, Port Macquarie

Heads in the sand

Blind Freddy would tell you that climate change is causing havoc on the Australian continent (“Huge surf, 100km/h winds forecast for Sydney and NSW coast”, April 1). The monetary cost alone is already incalculable. Meanwhile, the Morrison government has demonstrated no intention of improving on the measly provisions they have made to combat the worsening effects of burning fossil fuels. Ignoring the obvious is a betrayal of us all. Bruce Spence, Balmain

Cycle hazard

It is wonderful that the northern cycle ramp design has been finalised, as Minister Rob Stokes observes, “imaginatively and sensitively” (“Bespoke cyclists’ ramp for bridge”, April 1). I hope that his department now turns to finalising the southern cycle ramp with the same sensitivity, so that the increased number of cyclists expected to use the cycleway are not exiting into the paths of families with young children walking or doing drop-offs at the local Fort Street Public School. This major safety risk would indeed be an April Fool’s joke on the local community if allowed to go unaddressed. Luke Lee, Pyrmont

Secret trial

An official Australian government spokesman has declared that Australia had no confidence in the validity of a process which is conducted in secret when referring to the Chinese government judicial system (“Ambassador blocked from journalist’s trial in Beijing”, April 1). But apparently secret trials are acceptable in Australia. Otherwise, why does the Prime Minister persist with the secret trial in Canberra of Bernard Collaery? Peter Sealy, Thurgoona

Desperate measure

Your article points out the internal turmoil within the Liberal Party over Scott Morrison’s character (“Torpedoed by the enemy within”, April 1). Obviously too late to change jockeys before the election, the Liberal Party may be faced with the real possibility of a hung parliament and needing the support of independents to form government. What if such independents demand, or are encouraged to demand, that Morrison step down as PM? Perfect solution for a party desperate to hold on to power. Michael Blissenden, Dural

It really shouldn’t take a resentfully based, if searingly accurate, statement from a disgruntled

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

departing female Liberal senator to convince the electorate that Morrison is “unfit to be Prime Minister”. If this fact wasn’t glaringly obvious by now then we do deserve another three or four years of insipid non-leadership. Fred Jansohn, Rose Bay

Your correspondent writes the downgrading Fierravanti-Wells to a lower position on the senate ballot paper is democracy in action (Letters, April 1). Sorry to burst your bubble, but democracy is “government by the people, of the people and for the people”, not by an oligarchy of party ministers and powerbrokers making the decisions about who electorates can elect. Local branches should choose their candidates, not have “celebrities” helicoptered in from elsewhere. We do not have a democracy in this country, just a pretense of one. Shane Nunan, Finley

No good gambling

Why pick on casinos for money-laundering when this has been rampant through all forms of betting since Adam was a boy (Letters, April 1)? Why pick on pokies specifically while ignoring TABs, advertising of betting on TV and multi-page racing supplements complete with the odds? I don’t condone gambling, just want all forms discouraged, not only the issue of the day as decided by the media. Mary Poirrier,

Maddening monikers

Please stop whinging about your names (Letters, April 1). Try being a woman in Australia with my name. And don’t get me started on my initials. Randi Svensen, Wyong

Over 35 years of teaching my surname evoked a number of questions. The answers in no particular order: no, I’m not from France, I don’t speak French, I don’t have a speech impediment and either the first or second “f” is silent. Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

I was once called Mrs Magnanimous. Of course, I forgave them. Vicky Marquis, Glebe

You can imagine the japesters thinking they were being so original during the reign of a certain American president, when after introducing myself they would chortle; “Hello, Ronnie”. Regan Pallandi, Hurlstone Park

I would be almost as rich as my namesake if I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told, “I thought you were dead/gay/divorced,” or asked, “Can you sing/dance/play the piano?” Peter Allen, Castle Cove

Eira Battaglia (Letters, March 31), I see your silent “g” and raise you a silent “z”. Alexandra Szalay, Berowra Creek

More maddening monikers

When I was growing up some moons ago, I was constantly fielding questions about where my parents got my name, what it meant and how to spell it. Now it’s morphed into Meegan, Meagan, Meaghan, Meeghan, with the Welsh no doubt gasping in disbelief. Megan Brock, Summer Hill

Over the past 30 years, I have frequently been introduced as “Scott” but later referred to as “Shane”. And the number of times the “s” is left off my surname is particularly troubling. My middle initial is “K” as well. More confusion. I was a wicket keeper, though. Scott Warnes, Suffolk Park

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Try having Gavaghan as a last name. This is regularly written as Gaughan, Cavanagh, Cavaghan, Gavaganahan, Callaghan and other variations as well as usually being mispronounced. The Irish have a lot to answer for. Felicity Gavaghan, Cammeray

I used to have terrible trouble getting others to write or pronounce my family name correctly. I would get anything from Whalebone , Wellborn, Welbin to a myriad of other variations until I chanced on a sure fire solution to the problem. After giving my family name I now add “like Melbourne with a w”. It works a treat, even overseas. Chris Welbourne, Newcastle

I received an envelope addressed to Mrs J Bitch once. It has bothered me ever since. Jaqui Fitch, Bayview

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been asked, “are you related to Shirley?” John Temple, Vaucluse

When I was a child, my surname was often misspelt as Farrer and people would ask me if were related to the “wheat man”. However, as William Farrer became forgotten and footballers took pride of place, my name would be spelt as Farah. Patricia Farrar, Concord

Registering at a French gym as Laurie, my card was placed in a pink slot. I’ve since retitled myself as Laurent. Laurie Le Claire, Epping

The difference between Sydney and Melbourne: in Sydney I say “my surname is spelt like Melbourne without the M” and get a blank look and still need to spell it in full. In Melbourne, I receive a smile and no problem. Eva Elbourne, Pennant Hills

I assume most people have heard of Jesus Christ, so why do some think my name begins with a K? John Christie, Oatley

I am often called “Nick Westernick”. Go figure! Nick Westerink, Weetangera (ACT)

As a child I couldn’t pronounce the letter R so my name came out as Bawwy Wiley. I’m so glad my mother was talked out of her first choice of name Rory. Barry Riley, Woy Woy

Family ties

My uncle came to Australia in 1925 with the surname Spiegelglas. He was always asked how to spell it. For a while he called himself Spell. Then one day he played around with the name, crossed out every second letter, took out G because his Christian name was George. That left Sills. Irene Sills, Coogee

It is time to weigh in with the Greek perspective on names in English. A few examples, some courtesy of immigration officers others self- inflicted: Sophocles to Cliff, Epaminondas to Eddy, Xenophon to Frank ( it had an F sound in it heard the immigration officer ) and Kalogeropoulos to Callas. George Harris, Austinmer

When my dad came to this wonderful country in 1938, it was as Andreas Apostolopoulos. After several years of locals stumbling over his name and defaulting to Mr Andrew, he finally changed it by deed poll to Andrew Andrews. I regularly have to clarify that “Yes, my middle name is the same as my surname”. Nicholas Andrew Andrews, Bellevue Hill

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The first arrival with my surname was Henry Turbett, a convict in 1816. As he could not write, how it was spelt depended on who wrote it down. The spelling evolved and for a few generations it has been spelt “Turbit”. When someone writes it down they often get to the end and ask “One T or two?“. The answer, and it goes back to at least my grandfather, has been “Two Ts. One at each end.” Neville Turbit, Russell Lea

I am often called “Pascal” to which I promptly respond that I am neither French, nor a philosopher. My name is derived from the Italian word for Easter, and was bestowed, by my mother, in honour of her father. It definitely should not be shortened to “Pas”. Pat or Patrick was a compromise in the pre-multicultural 60s and 70s, but not now. Pasquale Vartuli, Wahroonga

My mother told me this story after we emigrated from Europe in 1949. The man in front of us at the immigration desk, a Mr Fuchs, was told: “Mate if you want to live here, change your name”. Welcome to Australia, Mr Fox. Piroska Walsh, Double Bay

Try having a handle like La Macchia. I’ve lost count how many times the name is misspelt, from the L and M being swapped to a capital C being added. As for pronunciation, I gave up, answered to anything that sounded close. Even the space between the words is too much of a problem for some, particularly government departments. Trevor La Macchia, Eastwood

My grandson is Rodaidh, Gaelic spelling and pronunciation of Roddy which stumps everyone except a few Scots. My sister-in-law is Mhairi – again Gaelic and pronounced Vari. Both names lead to terrible confusion when being called for appointments (Rodade, Rodide?). Makes my son Rurik very commonplace. Ann MacKenzie, Naremburn

Don’t talk to me about pronunciation of names. I am of Italian parentage and I am named after my grandfather. Italian convention places the Christian name last on official documents. So on my birth certificate, my first name, pronounced Mi-ke-le, is actually my second name and vice versa. When someone calls asking for Michelle I either tell them they have the wrong number or she is not here. To confuse matters further, my parents anglicised my second name, which is really my first name. When I receive correspondence addressed to “Steven” I just lose it. Michele Stefano Iacono, Rosebery

My dad had to explain the spelling of his first name for 30 years before I was born. Why then would he give it to me? He came from Scotland as a child and in his Gaelic bible our name appears as the translation for John. To ensure the struggle continues for receptionists, I gave it as a second name to my son and he in turn has done the same for his. Eoin Johnston, Alstonville

What’s in a name?

I have always introduced myself as Michael. Why then do people I have just met decide to call me Mick or Mike? I don’t call them Bobby or Jen or Jim or Katie. Michael McFadyen , Kareela

Try having a maiden name like Box. Was that Fox? or Cox? And the jokes from teenage boys were also to be borne. Marriage gave me the name of one of my favourite poets. Blessings. Genevieve Milton, Newtown

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While living in the Middle East a nice young man was having trouble with my name – both parts of it. In frustration I said “like Harry Potter”. A lightbulb moment followed and I became Mrs Harry Potter. Vivienne Potter, Gowrie (ACT)

I doubt there is anybody with even the simplest of names who has not accounted weird spellings or pronunciation. Take it from me, it’s better just to roll with it. But I did take exception to the woman who, over a number of years’ acquaintance, insisted on calling me Bev. Elisabeth Goodsall, Wahroonga

My name is not Billy – and I have no connection with any pirate captain. But for over 70 years others have been confused! Brian Kidd, Mt. Waverley (Vic)

My mother’s name is Valmai and over the years she has often been called Balmain by mistake. Once she rang a friend and got on to their six-year-old son who took a message. The footy season had just begun and he told his mother that Parramatta had called. It took a while for her friend to make the connection. Stephanie King, Woolwich

Try having the surname David. Not your first name, your last name. How do you spell that? Davis? Davies? No, just D A V I D. Oh, David? That’s the one. And I thought it would be so simple, my maiden name being Baas. No one could spell that, either. Mia David, Wollongong

My surname is pronounced the same as you would a suit of armour yet a majority of people seem to think it should be pronounced as the French amour which admittedly adds a certain je ne sais quoi to my surname, but totally unjustified in reality. Phil Armour, Yass

Having a common name has its own disadvantages. A few examples: in the 1980s, working in a bank, there were eight Susans in the one department and we even made it into Column 8. On my first day in a new job 15 years ago I was told that, as they already had a Sue and a Susan in the office, I would be called Susie, a name I had never used. In high school I shared the same first and last name with another girl in my year. Imagine the confusion that caused. Susan Sawyer, St Ives

I don’t know what all the fuss has been about this past week. In all my long life of 90 years I can’t remember anyone having trouble pronouncing my name.
Clive Williams, Lavender Bay

Postscript

“With all that’s going on in the news, one could easily get the impression that these Monty Python lyrics are perceptive: ’And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere out in space/ ’Cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth’,” wrote Robert Ballinger of Pymble.

This week, many felt they had even more reason to sing along to Monty Python’s Galaxy Song this week. Correspondents were unanimous in their criticism of the Coalition’s budget, describing it as more of a re-election speech, pitched at winning votes rather than improving people’s lives – an “ask not what you can do for your country, but what you can do for your party” moment.

Kristina Vingis at Church Point helpfully suggested that at budget time, the Coalition should not resort “to bribes and promises” to have another chance to do what they should have already done. “Just stand at the podium and list your achievements, then tick off a few new ones for the next four years. That would get my vote,” she wrote.

Letter writers were impressed by Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’ criticism of her boss and not at all impressed by the support shown to Scott Morrison by a former prime minister. “The PM must be in deep, deep trouble for John Howard to come to his defence,” wrote David Gordon of Cranebrook.

Under the circumstances, it was no surprise we received hundreds of letters about a much cheerier subject. It seems everyone has a story to tell about their name, even those with supposedly easy to spell surnames like Smith or White. We’ve added some extra name letters online for those that need a bit more light relief. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy. Pat Stringa, Letters editor

  • To submit a letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, email letters@smh.com.au. Click here for tips on how to submit letters.

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