Another blow to the arts and theatre community

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Another blow to the arts and theatre community

I am writing this still fresh from an emotional night after finding out that Monash University intends to close my ‘‘home’’ there – The Centre for Theatre and Performance (The Age, 18/9) at the end of this year.

It is heartbreaking that not only will my degree, and those of many others, be compromised by cuts to theatre, but future students will also be deprived of the chance to study one of Victoria’s most versatile and enriching theatre courses. Many students, including myself, came to Monash specifically to do a an arts double degree that allows us to study theatre and performance with no audition required.

One thing has been made clear through all the hits to arts students over the last couple of years: universities are no longer concerned with fostering student learning, rather it is about making money. The Centre for Theatre and Performance may have low enrolments but there is a strong sense of community and an incredible, creative environment under the guidance of the amazing staff. It is a resilient community and the staff and students will not be taken down without a fight. The centre needs all the support it can get to stay alive and continue to support Melbourne’s theatre industry. The show must go on and so must the centre.
Stephanie Lee, Beaumaris

The train wreck which is the sector’s demise

Labor is correct, at least in part, in blaming ‘‘uni bosses’’ (The Age, 17/9) for the university sector’s current predicament. As a retired, long-term academic, I believe there are two continuing frustrations at watching the slow-motion train wreck.

Whilst a primary source of the sector’s problems is the withdrawal of federal government funds over two decades and the replacement of these with increasing dependence on overseas, fee-paying students, the sector has contributed substantially to its crisis in at least two self-inflicted ways.
First, university councils have become dominated by business people with little or no understanding or experience of the sector, apart from personal experience often 30-plus years in the past. Secondly the sector has allowed governments to repeatedly ‘‘divide and conquer’’ it. The main division has been between the extraordinarily selfish, self-congratulatory and myopic Group of Eight and the rest. Governments of both persuasions have been able to play these internal groups off against each other.

This is compounded by using salary-focused, inward-looking, competitive vice-chancellors to focus solely on their own institution and personal welfare, to the detriment of staff and students at universities. Unless these senior executives and council members can unite as one to confront government, and put the sector as a whole front and centre, we will lose what is a rich, vital and critical part of our culture and society.
Geoff Wescott, Northcote

Rural students are especially disadvantaged

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek implies that the new fee structure for university courses will make it more expensive and harder for many Australians to attend universities. Whilst some courses will be more expensive, many others will be cheaper.

The HECS idea that Labor introduced meant that undergraduates do not have to repay their fees until they have graduated and entered the workforce. Hence the cost of a course is no hindrance to entering university. How quickly the debt is repaid depends on the individual’s decision of what course they choose, the demand for the occupations the course leads to and the salary level available. Those who choose a high-paying occupation will repay their debt relatively quickly.
What Plibersek should be more concerned about is the financial disadvantage that potential students from regional and rural locations face. The cost of moving away from home and relocating to capital cities is considerable. This cost cannot be deferred, unlike HECS.
Ian Bennett, Jan Juc


Accentuate the positive

Thank you, Janet Whiting (The Age, 18/9). Living in lockdown is stressful but is being made worse by the constant criticism and negativity being expressed. Protesters and critics are making a lot of noise but are not offering positive solutions or encouragement. Could we hear more about the creative and constructive ways in which people are working? This would lift our spirits and help us through this crisis.
Gwenyth McMahon, Blackburn South

Face the harsh facts

In your letters pages, apologists for Daniel Andrews are somehow taking the second COVID-19 wave overseas to rationalise why we have one in Victoria. Surely even the most rusted-on of his supporters have noticed there is no second wave anywhere else in Australia, and the enormous damage that has been done to lives and livelihoods here is due to the incompetence of the Andrews government in handling hotel quarantine and contact tracing.
Brian Healey, Brighton

Let’s all work together

How does the Victorian opposition think that putting forward a no-confidence motion in the Victorian government is a worthwhile move? Michael O’Brien could have chosen to work, in a bipartisan way, to assist the government during this dreadful pandemic. Instead he has politicised the situation by undermining the government and Dan Andrews at every opportunity. Surely the worst thing, at the moment, would be a change to the leadership team. Let us get behind the Premier and his team and work together, as Victorians, to reach a satisfactory outcome for us all.
Pam Parnell, Footscray

The psychology of fear

Chris Uhlmann (Comment, 17/9) hits the nail on the head. His article suggests he is a realist. He says that, ‘‘As a nation we seem comfortable with authoritarianism’’. I agree and feel that these days as a people, we lack courage. We are becoming more selfish and inward. In Victoria, Dan Andrews works on the psychology of fear. Too many people respond and become scared – a bit like a mob of sheep. This does not augur well for our future as a nation.
Richard Wilcox, Camberwell

Impossible ‘ring of steel’

Recently COVID-19 killed my 97-year-old mother-in-law. Although she had some dementia, she took no medication and was physically well. She still had her humour and Belfast feistiness.
Ann lived in aged care and received exemplary care. They were ahead in their precautions but COVID-19 got in. It appears a staff member caught it from her child who had been infected at school before anyone was aware of its presence. She isolated as soon as the outbreak was identified, but too late for Ann.

The world’s best contact tracing cannot prevent such occurrences. Chris Uhlmann suggests a “ring of steel’’ around aged care homes. It does not exist. He also neglects the fact that countries that have not locked down have had both the worst death rates and the worst economic outcomes. My mother-in-law was worth more than his neoliberal platitudes.
Peter Cook, Essendon

Very faulty memories

I can guarantee that in every government inquiry or royal commission, a key player when giving evidence will say at some point, ‘‘I don’t remember’’ or ‘‘I can’t recall’’. In the hotel quarantine inquiry, former police chief commissioner Graham Ashton and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp do not disappoint (The Age, 18/9).
Mandy Morgan, Malvern

Health must come first

I received an email from Qantas on Thursday asking me to click to support the opening of state borders. Here is my response: ‘‘Hello Qantas, I have no desire to lobby to see borders opened until the chief health officers declare it is safe to do so. I imagine that many Qantas customers share this opinion and would prefer that the corporate sector stayed out of the discussion.’’
Carolyn O’Brien, Richmond

In the spirit of WWII

In England during World War II, local agricultural committees ran large, tented, harvest camps to help farmers bring in the harvest. You were taken by bus or truck to a farm, worked all day, and returned to the camp in the late afternoon. Perhaps a similar organisation could be formed to pick fruit this year if overseas workers and backpackers are not able to come here (The Age, 15/9).
Penny Garnett, Castlemaine

Towards independence

Congratulations, Barbados, on your intention to remove Queen Elizabeth as your head of state and become a republic. Come on, Australia, let us do the same and become an independent country.
Christine Hammett, Richmond

Elephant in the room

I agree with Stephen Downes – ‘‘Push to make us eat outdoors is just ridiculous’’ (Comment, 16/9). The current number of cafes and restaurants with outside seating is not being disputed. What is being challenged is that this can work in all establishments, and must be part of the exit plan.

I have spent my life in hospitality, as a successful owner, manager and maitre d’, always working on the floor, dealing with the customers. I do not know how many times I have seated people, on a pleasant spring or summer evening, outside for drinks and/or dining and they have eventually requested to move to a table inside. Their reasons include it’s too hot, too cold, too windy, it’s starting to rain and even that people walking past are smoking. Not to mention flies and mosquitoes. Melbourne’s summer is usually short and the weather is unpredictable. Most cafe owners I have spoken to are shaking their heads. It needs to be 50/50, inside and outside.
Meredith James, Glen Huntly

A man for all seasons

Climate science denier Donald Trump has reassured the people of wildfire-ravaged California, Oregon and Washington that their fiery nightmare will soon be over, as the weather will ‘‘get cooler’’. The people of Florida, Alabama and Louisiana, inundated by massive floods, must be waiting anxiously for him to announce that it will soon ‘‘get drier’’.
Richard Hughes, Woodend

Ensuring integrity

There has been concern that the US postal service will not be able to cope with the volume of postal voting in the coming presidential election. We need to raise a similar concern in Victoria where ballot papers for council elections will be mailed out in a couple of weeks. Australia Post is struggling to provide a basic service, with letter delivery reduced to three days a week so that it can cope with a deluge of parcels.

Given my experience waiting weeks for letters to arrive, I worry about the integrity of council election results. Australia Post must guarantee pre-COVID collection and delivery for the election period.
David Glanz, Hadfield

Get your priorities right

How awesome that, according to Amber Collins, chief marketing officer at Australia Post, the staff have been so productive during lockdown (Comment, 18/9). Research, community sponsorships, digital programs, advertising campaigns, restructuring departments, promoting people and hiring team members does not actually get the post delivered.
On August 22, I posted a parcel to Belgium. According to the tracking device, it is still at Melbourne Airport. Amber, a little less marketing and advertising, and a little more attention to delivering mail, whether done from home or your office would (unlike my parcel) be well received.
Gina Brotchie, East Ballarat

Another tearless tip

I have a similar solution regarding Richard Cornish’s advice about how to stop the tears when cutting onions (Good Food, 15/9). I take a big sip of water and do not swallow until after I have finished the chopping. Somehow, it seems to work.
Cynthia Pollak, Elsternwick


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding


Could we please extend the foreign influence legislation to include corporate and donor interference.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

Aged care: There’s a hole in the funding bucket, dear Henry.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

An election slogan (technically one word more than usual) for the conservatives: Give Gas a Go.
Peter Angelovski, Hoppers Crossing

Herd mentality: Republicans going over a cliff with Trump.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont


I imagine there are smiles behind masks in Victorian regions.
Kaye Jones, Nagambie

The Andrews government’s failed quarantine response: ‘‘I know that I know nothing.’’
Alastair Wright, North Dandenong

I suspect Chris Uhlmann (18/9) is referring to ‘‘Toorak Village’’.|
Kristen Hurley, Seaholme

Take the advice of Uhlmann and ignore the majority medical advice? Irony, surely.
Shane McGrath, Kialla

Michael O’Brien, show a bit of bipartisanship instead of persisting with unproductive, ‘‘attack dog’’ methods.
Angela Gill, Moonee Ponds

Let’s hope Andrews is under-promising so he can over-deliver.
Peter Walker, Black Rock

Yes, Janet Whiting (16/9), we must stop the blame game for now. All we are doing is giving nutters authority.
Marilyn Hoban, Mornington


Re the Commonwealth Bank’s ads on financial abuse. Does it get the irony?
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne

Lucky Susan Leeming (17/9). Parcels sent on August 7 from Fitzroy to Essendon are yet to arrive.
Ruth Finlayson, Fitzroy

Susan Leeming, I sent an item to Eltham via registered mail on August27 and it still hasn’t arrived.
Graziana Spinelli, East Bentleigh

An ad on the back page of The Age again? Is nothing sacred?
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood

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