It’s OK, Boomers: Splash out, but keep it local

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Credit: Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Your correspondent, a Boomer with disposable income, is concerned of stoking inflation (“Can I spend?” Letters, 29/11). Sure, buying another investment property or that new suburban oversized SUV doesn’t help, but that doesn’t mean supporting local businesses is off the cards. In particular, might I suggest going to a local gig (you’re never too old) or a local gallery and buying some merchandise/art if impressed. Surely that’s a less inflationary way to spend your disposable income, while at the same time helping a local artist to fuel their passion.
Jayson Argall, Northcote

Come together to find a solution
Thank you both, Clive and Myra Hamilton (“Blaming Boomers for your money woes is lazy”, 28/11). Apparently, Baby Boomers are spending while everyone else is saving so we are causing inflation. You could see them in their beautiful outfits and downing champagne at the Melbourne racing carnival, lining up for tickets to Taylor Swift and Robbie Williams and finally spending $6.3billion at the Black Friday sales. They were all Baby Boomers! … I don’t think so.
In 2019, Bill Shorten presented changes to negative gearing, franking credits, capital gains and much more to address economic issues. After much fear was dispensed about the plan, Labor is now reticent to implement changes. Let all generations work together to give the federal government the confidence to implement policies that address the economic woes and create more equal outcomes for all.
Sandra Ashton Beaumaris

Unexplained price rises
Recently I had to renew my car and house insurance through two different companies. Both of them increased their premiums by 48 per cent on the 2022 premium. I was astounded. When I spoke to each of the companies, I was given the usual explanation that premiums had to be lifted due to the normal reasons for increases. I told them I was not querying the need for increases; I was asking why the increases were so great and failed to get a sensible answer from either. As an aged pensioner, this sort of increase has a serious impact on my limited income.
Brian Bailey, Healesville

Valued service lost
It’s not only householders who are being hammered by rising rents. Retailers are too. My hairdresser is being forced to close after her landlord massively increased her rent as of January. Her mainly elderly pensioner clients will now lose her caring services just so a landlord can increase their wealth.
Jan Storey, Beaumaris

Don’t blame my generation
On Black Friday, it wasn’t Boomers I noticed at Chadstone loading their large SUVs with countless bags of goodies. Another strain on the mortgage payments and it’s my fault?
Ed Farbrother, Hughesdale

Staples soaring
Michele Bullock says our inflation is now largely home-grown and provided increased demand for hair dressing and dental services as examples. I think she should be looking elsewhere for culprits. Case in point is one of our large retailers, Woolies. The humble breakfast staple Weetbix 1.25-kilogram value pack used to retail for $4 for several years, even during the COVID lockdowns. Then suddenly a few months ago the price jumped to $5 – a hefty 20 per cent increase. Can someone explain such an increase?
Les Garrad, Chelsea

Price gouging
Thank you, Clive and Myra Hamilton, for a gentle nudge back on the ageism wars. At Tullamarine airport last week I refused to pay $17 per glass for a red wine that can be purchased at a supermarket for a bottle at this price. How is such practice allowed? None of the people drinking wine looked to me like Boomers. Market forces won’t work unless we all shun those ridiculous prices.
Jonathan Apted, Highton


A race to the bottom
The current row over the release of asylum seekers, the mad scramble to put them back into detention and the “tougher than you” race to the bottom (“High Court’s order allows new law on re-detention”, 29/11) reflects poorly on a nation that has prided itself on its compassion.
When Tony Mokbel finishes his sentence, he’ll be released from prison and be free to re-enter the community. There’ll, no doubt, be some baying for blood, but he’ll be a free man, without the fear of being locked up again for crimes for which he has been convicted.
The difference is that these asylum seekers are stateless; Mokbel isn’t.
Regrettably, the parties are attempting to outbid each other on border control, and the government is attempting to send a message to asylum seekers, and those who trade on their misery, that they’re not welcome.
David Rees, Coburg

Things unsaid
There are three things certain voices in the media and the opposition – Peter Dutton, in particular – don’t seem to want to say about the recently released immigration detainees.
First, if they were Australian citizens, they would have been back in the community when they completed their original sentences, instead of in indefinite detention. Second, most of them are not murderers or sex offenders, but are relatively low-level criminal offenders, who may have only served a year or two before being released from prison. Third, the threshold for having a visa revoked or cancelled is quite low – having been sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months, or a cumulative total of jail time of more than 12 months for different offences.
So, should Australians be more worried about the thousands of Australians who have completed jail sentences and been released into the community than about the immigration detainees? Is this saga just a political sideshow?
Daniel Cole, St Albans

Never too late
Well done to Alan Stuart for attending a climate change protest, blockading the world’s largest coal port (“At 97, I attended my first protest and was arrested”, 29/11). It is a shame that it takes action like this, and sometimes getting arrested, to get people to listen and realise what’s happening in our world with climate change. It also goes to show that anyone can get involved and speak up for our planet.
Jane Matthews-Bede, Blackburn

Classrooms the right place
Teachers are being criticised for discussing the war in Gaza in schools (“Pro-Palestine action by teachers slammed”, 28/11) but critically examining the causes and costs of war, and encouraging dialogue and solidarity with others, is vital.
Some dialogue about contemporary wars, like the war in Gaza, might be difficult to have – and some might prefer to avoid it – but the classroom is an ideal place for this conflict to be discussed. Unlike other forums – such as social media – classrooms have clear standards about respectful exchanges of ideas, and teachers have no tolerance for prejudice, racism, or discrimination. Better that students have open discussions that humanise and seek solutions than
perpetuate division.
Finally, classroom dialogue about the war in Gaza has been described as “political”.
When the war in Ukraine broke out, teachers were encouraged by social workers and educational psychologists to talk about the conflict, and to help students
show solidarity through actions like fundraising, holding vigils, and writing to MPs – this does not
seem to have been considered “political”.
Elise West, Teachers for Peace, Footscray

Good intentions
As a secondary teacher with more than 35 years’ experience, I find the notion that any one of us could be duped into becoming pro-Palestine stooges quite insulting on a number of levels.
All of the teachers I ever knew were intent on only two things: Being non-partisan in our dealings with our students and teaching our chosen subjects in a way that enriched their lives and opened their minds, not closed them.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Bomb shelters
Your correspondent asks why Gaza needs bomb shelters (Letters, 29/11). It’s for the same reason there are bomb shelters in every house, school and hospital in the south of Israel – Hamas keeps starting wars by firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. Then it hides among its civilian population, including in its tunnels under them, meaning when Israel exercises its right of self-defence, civilians are hit, even though Israel warns them to leave and tries to avoid hitting them.
Danny Samuels, Malvern

A terrible cost
Your correspondent’s view of the casualties in Gaza and Israel (29/11) refers to Israel’s “just war against an evil existential threat”. Hamas committed unjustifiable killings of Israelis, but to suggest that they have the capacity to threaten Israel’s existence is pure fantasy. What has happened since is a brutal, inhumane and immoral overreaction by a vastly more powerful military machine. Israel has responded to 1000 Israeli deaths with over 10 times as many dead Palestinians. Moreover, Israel’s indiscriminate response has ignored the most fundamental rules of war, killing women and children in their thousands and making no attempt to find solutions to the underlying causes of this interminable conflict.
Bob Thomas, Blackburn South

Not so cynical
Peter Hartcher (“What will happen next in Gaza?” 28/11), explains well the true genocidal nature of Hamas, which demonstrates why there can’t be a permanent ceasefire now – Hamas would just start more wars, with many thousands likely to die each time, until it is driven out of Gaza.
However, the article’s accusation that from 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu helped Hamas in order to sabotage a two-state solution is problematic.
Allowing Qatar to fund Gaza was recommended by the heads of Israel’s security forces, was generally supported across Israel, and continued during the Bennet-Lapid government of 2021-2022. It was done to improve conditions in Gaza because it was hoped that if Hamas had something to lose, it was less likely to turn to terrorism. Previously, Hamas had often initiated violence when it was feeling the pinch financially.
The policy clearly didn’t maintain calm as hoped, but it wasn’t as cynical as was portrayed.
Robbie Gore, Brighton East

Safe and slower
My municipality of Merri-bek is rolling out a 40km/h limit in all local streets to make them safer for people walking and cycling.
The function of “local streets” is to provide access to adjacent properties, not through traffic. Given that so many residents are concerned about fast-moving vehicles in their streets, this rollout should be popular.
But I have been perplexed to see some people describing it as “punishing motorists”. The only time that a motorist should be using these local streets is at the beginning and end of their journey. And these are the locations where they step into or out of their car, and miraculously transform into “pedestrians” — the very people who are advantaged by the lower speed limit.
Of course, some motorists are driving through these local streets, increasingly directed there by their satellite navigation. These motorists are typically called “rat runners” and ought to be deterred. Hopefully, the lower speed limits will stop sat-nav systems channelling vehicles into streets intended only for local traffic.
Andrea Bunting, Brunswick

Wrong incentives
Reading “Parking chaos fears as permit rule is relaxed” (The Age, 29/11), it seems like people are arguing over car spaces instead of seats on trains.
I am a frequent traveller on public transport in my area. One of the reasons I bought here was easy access to public transport with the view to use my car less. This would appear to be the logic of the local councils when issuing permits to developers to build multi-level apartments near public transport routes. So why are permits being issued with excessive numbers of car spaces per apartment?
As my near-empty tram crawls along the road clogged with cars, I ask myself if the government’s plan to get more people to use public transport is working?
Sharon Hendon, Glen Iris

Bush-less block
I can relate to your correspondent whose neighbours cut down all their greenery (“The war on plants”, 29/11). Many years ago, when my parents retired to the beachside and bought a weatherboard house with a wonderful sloping bush garden, there was a bush block next door.
Sadly, the new owners bulldozed the whole block, telling my parents the trees were a fire risk.
They built their brick-veneer home and had a few pot plants on the concrete patio. They were scared of bushfires. If that was the case, why buy a bush block?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

There is treatment
Grace Molloy’s article on the menopause (Comment, 29/11) has done well to highlight this issue. However, it does not explain that menopause is a condition that is completely reversible with correct treatment. As an obstetrician and gynaecologist who has just retired after 54 years of specialist practice, I am disappointed to read about unnecessary suffering like this in 2023.
Menopause hormone treatment received a bad name in 1980 when questionable research was published on the use of an extract of pregnant mares’ urine for menopause management. There have been enormous changes in the treatment since then and we now have the ovarian chemical to replace what is missing.
Dr Graeme Dennerstein, Essendon


Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

Traffic hazards
City councils must be happy about the fact that speeds are falling on the roads. Country drivers are forced to slow down to avoid the potholes!
Cherie Forrester, Gembrook

A brave government would introduce a truck tax to match the damage done to our roads.
Greg Curtin, Nunawading

Your correspondent (Letters, 29/11) decries the “culture of entitlement” over a barista’s complaint about a $1 tip for a $5 coffee, but one snarky barista does not a generation make. I’d assume that man is having a bad day, and move on, maybe to another cafe.
Shannon Brand, Carnegie

If the barista received a $1 tip for every takeaway coffee he made over a year, he would have enough shrapnel to buy a new car.
Keith Lawson, Melbourne

Ever since authorities announced that an El Nino weather pattern has formed, the weather has been terrible.
Craig Tucker, Newport

Senator Patrick Dodson will always be recognised as a wise advocate; generous of spirit; a respectful and respected man. A model for all.
Deanna McKeown, Mount Martha

I know about Christmas in July, but what’s with this Christmas in November?
Paul Sands, Sunbury

The housing crisis is real but I suspect that it won’t be tackled in a meaningful sense until those who own houses are the minority of voters and governments of all persuasions sense that to retain power they will need to act.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Your correspondent (29/11) claims that atheism is presuppositional and a way of looking at the world. This is false, we atheists make no claims, make no assertions, have no world views and have a single position only – we do not believe in a god or gods.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

So there’s been $6.3 billion in Black Friday sales. What cost-of-living crisis?
Ron Dretzke, Deepdene

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