Why we need to look forward to an ageing population

Why we need to look forward to an ageing population Mother and baby

In the article by Rachel Clun and Shane Wright, the problems of ageing were overstated (“Babynomics: Is starting a family good for you, or just for the nation?”, June 2). The dependency ratio (the percentage of dependents under 14 and over 65 in a population) does not change significantly with an ageing population, providing people work a bit longer. With more older people but fewer children, there will be increased expenditure on health care and nursing homes, but less on schools. People in the 65 to 75 age bracket can be fully functioning citizens if they have maintained a healthy lifestyle, indeed, it is really only in the last couple of years of life that costs rise. The main question, however, is how many people can the world support at a reasonable standard of living? Given we need 1.75 Earths to provide for our current needs, we need to welcome slow population decline when it comes. Jenny Goldie, Cooma

No wreckers

When she points out that “democratic and law-based conventions are only as strong as the people respecting them,” Jacqueline Maley has drilled to the very heart of why our system works or does not (“The bad thing about the Trump verdict? That people celebrated it”, June 2). This is the fundamental reason that our society needs constructive leaders and not people who simply wreck things for political gain. You know who you are. Greg Baker, Fitzroy Falls

Case closed

Parnell McGuinness’ comments on racism, having surveyed a few of her friends and decided she knows what’s going on, diminishes racism’s apparent scope by failing to mention the structural racism of Australia (“If Australia’s a racist country, it’s not just a black and white issue”, June 2). Our Constitution’s perpetuation of the existing Anglo-Saxon, patriarchal, England-focussed ethnocentric culture of 1900 has unarguably suppressed and oppressed anyone who is not a male from that culture, and still does. McGuinness describes Dutton’s migration strategy as “calibrated to speak to multicultural Australia”. However, his statements and methods indicate that he is narrowly and deliberately speaking to white racism to gain votes, as his Liberal predecessors have done since Howard’s “children overboard” election, with a subsequent punitive regime on refugees which continues despite various international treaties to which we are signatories. Barry Laing, Castle Cove

McGuinness is right to point out that racism lurks under the surface in all societies and always has and people tend weaponise it for their own purposes. She seems to have a particular beef with writers’ festival panels which have joined the list of enemies of the Murdoch media along with the ABC. Universities seem to have slipped down the list. I have a feeling that we may be hearing a lot more of that term “writers’ festival panels”. Gary Barnes, Mosman

In her article, McGuinness doesn’t delve deep enough into Australian racism. The truth of the matter is that racism started with the invaders’ attitude to the First Australians, which continues to this day. Then racism towards all non-whites was institutionalised in the White Australia Policy. With such a history, it is little wonder that racism is endemic in this country. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

I think Parnell and Laura should have coffee and a chat pretty soon. Tim Egan, Mosman

Missing link

James Massola’s article presents persuasive arguments made by Anthony Albanese against Peter Dutton’s plan for nuclear power in Australia (“PM target Dutton’s nuclear policy for poll”, June 2). These include high cost, long build time, and community acceptance. However, there is no mention of the vast volumes of water needed to cool the reactor cores: about 50 million litres per day, or 20 billion litres per year. That is why nuclear power plants that have operated for many years are located near large rivers or the sea. None of the Australian sites so far mentioned by Mr Dutton satisfies this critical criterion. Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin (ACT)

It’s about time Dutton came clean on his party’s nuclear policy. He sees nuclear energy as part of a “balanced mix of technologies”, but just what is that mix? Does the Coalition propose to keep producing dirty energy for the next decade or more while his nebulous nuclear notion begins to take shape? Meanwhile, in places like the former coal-mining town of Collie in WA, the community is getting on with the job of transitioning to renewables and battery storage. Collie Shire President Ian Miffling aptly describes the opposition’s nuclear policy as “a bit of a distraction” - and he is right. It certainly appears to lack substance. Anne O’Hara, Wanniassa ACT

Safe riding

Attempts in NSW to exempt Sikhs from wearing helmets on bicycles and motorcycles, endorsed by Cate Faehrmann of the Greens, are dangerously misguided (“The Sydney motorbike club that can’t legally ride”, June 1). The evidence is irrefutable: helmets save lives and prevent severe injuries like brain damage, paraplegia and quadriplegia. The cost of lifetime care for such injuries is about $20 million per victim in today’s dollars.

If exemptions are granted, individuals should be required to post a $20 million bond with the NSW government to cover potential care costs. Otherwise, the financial burden will fall on taxpayers, impacting healthcare resources and families.

What next? Will other groups be entitled to demand exemptions from seat-belt laws based on personal or religious beliefs? Safety regulations are essential to protect all road users.

The NSW death toll is already 32 per cent up on the preceding 12 months. And apart from the pain grief and suffering, road trauma costs NSW over $9 billion per annum. Let’s prioritise safety and common sense. All riders must adhere to helmet laws to protect lives and reduce costs. Exemptions based on personal or religious beliefs undermine these vital protections and pose a significant risk to public safety. Harold Scruby,Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited

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