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Nic Naitanui, Max Gawn, Brodie Grundy or Todd Goldstein? It might be time we rethink the role of an AFL ruckman


For those who are unsatisfied with modern footy and crave a return to a simpler time, the ruck is the last bastion of what was once holy.

Across every line on the field, the one-on-one contest has been mostly replaced by sophisticated but arguably sterile team defences. Rarely will you see two players go head to head as they did in the good old days, back when it was Carey v Jakovich and not Carey v the entire West Coast backline, a few midfielders and a resting ruck.

But offering solace from those weekly — currently nightly, how fun! — complaints are the ruckmen, their craft relatively untouched and in some ways protected from the evolution that has gone on around them.

Two ruckmen enter, only one can win. The position still carries the old-fashioned mystique, which is why we habitually refer to it as a prominent make-or-break factor in any game.

It also helps that we are genuinely in a golden era of AFL ruckmen.

Jarrod Witts and Sam Jacobs are tangled up and looking upwards at a ball (out of picture)
Jarrod Witts has been among the Suns’ standout players in 2020.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

It’s hard to remember a time when there was so much quality and so much diversity in the position across the entire league. It’s not a stretch to suggest at least five ruckmen could be leading their respective club’s best-and-fairest counts at this point in the season, and the All Australian arguments are well and truly underway.

But, as it turns out, the very same things that so enamour us with ruckmen and their duels make it tremendously difficult for us to properly rate them, and may lead us to overrate the position entirely.

A few weeks ago, Max Gawn — many people’s pick for King of Ruck Mountain — made this point far more effectively on The Phil Davis Podcast.

“It is a hard position to play, because you look at the stats and you literally go ‘ruck v ruck, who’s had more numbers?’,” Gawn said.

“And if you don’t watch the game, you go ‘Mumford 15 disposals, Gawn 10 disposals. Mumford 30 hit outs, Gawn 25 hit outs — Mumford won that battle’.

“It’s the only position you can do that on.”

Max Gawn has a steely look on his face as he walks onto the field ahead of his teammates.
Max Gawn says he no longer gets sucked into debates ranking the best ruckmen in the AFL.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Does a great ruckman make a team great?

Gawn is right. We take for granted the mano e mano nature of the ruck and generally rely on strict statistical parameters to proclaim winners and losers, great players and poor ones.

It ignores the fact that a good Gawn game looks completely different to a good Brodie Grundy game, which looks completely different to a good Nic Naitanui game, which looks completely different to a good Todd Goldstein game and so on.

A Melbourne AFL players pushes against a North Melbourne opponent as they look to the sky waiting for the ball to be thrown in.
Max Gawn and Todd Goldstein go to work.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

And it also oversimplifies what “winning the ruck battle” means in terms of team success, giving arguably a false impression of how important a ruckman is to a team.

Let’s try an exercise to demonstrate this — off the top of your head, can you pick the last time the All Australian ruckman won a premiership in the same year?

You can have a second to think about it.

Did you guess 1996? North Melbourne’s Corey McKernan? It’s been a while, hey.

Without reading too much into it, that does tend to suggest that having an elite ruckman isn’t a precursor to or requirement for ultimate team success.

An AFL ruckman gets his hand to the ball to tap it clear while his opponent watches.
Brodie Grundy’s work at ground level sets him apart from his ruck rivals.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Gawn himself recognises that a ruckman is too often viewed in isolation and not part of an overall team setup, arguing that “the more we’re looked at as part of an 18-man team, I find it puts us more at ease”.

It’s quite possible, likely even, that streak will continue this year. Currently Gawn and Goldstein are the two favourites for the All Australian spot — their teams are 15th and 14th, respectively.

Grundy will always be in the conversation, but even Collingwood has slipped to 10th and is plagued with issues on and off the field. You’d be mad to rule the Pies out of 2020 entirely, but they and Grundy are both some way back at the moment.

But the missing name in this conversation is Naitanui’s, which is fitting — he more than any other ruckman sums up the divide between our comfortable analysis of the ruck role and a ruckman’s true value to a team.

The Naitanui conundrum

The irony is this might be the year the Naitanui debate, tortured and ridiculous it has always been, is ended for good.

In some ways it’s easy to see why it has persisted. Naitanui has been injured for almost all of his peak years, reappearing in dominant fits and starts but then succumbing once again.

More commonly quoted though are the many statistical holes in his game. Naitanui doesn’t take marks like Gawn, he doesn’t rack up the touches like Grundy, he can’t be an ever-present midfield extension like Goldstein.

By just about every statistical measure we have come to rely upon for judging one ruckman against another, he comes up short. And then you watch him play. And you see what he does for his team. And none of that other stuff matters any more.

A West Coast AFL player pushes against a Geelong opponent as they look to the air for the ball.
Nic Naitanui is in hot form at the moment, and was best on ground against Geelong.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

His ruckwork and connection with his midfielders creates more pure opportunity for scores than any of his contemporaries, and his presence influences stoppage situations like few others. You can’t appreciate the little things unless you watch them, the stats sheet just can’t capture it.

It’s why Naitanui is currently fifth overall and the highest-ranked ruckman in the voting for the AFL Coaches Association’s player of the year award, having polled votes in six out of his nine matches — only Jack Steele and Lachie Neale have polled more often.

It’s why those same coaches said he was one of the three most influential players on the ground in the round six game against Adelaide, despite his opponent Riley O’Brien taking nine marks to Naitanui’s zero and having 19 disposals to his seven.

And, quite frankly, it’s why West Coast beat Geelong on Saturday night.

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But instead of viewing him as a complete outlier, Naitanui’s unique form of influence can become a new standard with which to judge ruckmen. As mentioned at the top, every other position on the field has undergone evolution and, while belated, perhaps the ruck finally is too.

Dustin Martin became a better player when his priority stopped being possessions and became impact, and that switch has inspired two Richmond premierships. Defenders are no longer just fists with bodies attached, they are required to intercept and rebound and marshal an entire team.

It’s worth emphasising that this isn’t about downplaying the ability or impact of the likes of Gawn and Grundy, but rather to suggest that their teams could still be getting so much more out of their immense talents.

Gawn has taken one mark inside 50 all season, and is yet to kick a goal. That’s not because he can’t do those things, but because that is not currently his role.

Brodie Grundy and Max Gawn hold on to each others arms and look up
Could Collingwood and Melbourne be getting more out of Grundy and Gawn?(AAP: Daniel Pockett)

Brodie Grundy has more hit outs to advantage than any player in the AFL this season, but his team is ninth overall in clearances. That is not maximising his significant ability.

West Coast has a clear plan to get the most out of Naitanui. St Kilda has a clear plan to get the most out of both Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder. In all cases, it’s making a difference.

It wouldn’t take a whole of tweaking for Melbourne and Collingwood to start getting real bang for their buck out of the undisputed champions they have at their disposal.

It might not always show up on the stats sheet, but one day soon it’s going to make a difference in the destination of a premiership.



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Developer Time & Place circles Mobil’s $52m West Gate site


A deal will be set at a land rate around $600 per square metre, suggesting a price near $52 million, but neither company would confirm details.

Mobil said it was cleaning up the land under an Environment Protection Authority remediation plan. “As such, we sought expressions of interest from parties who intend to develop this land,” the company said.

“Mobil is currently managing a tender process for the development of our parcel of land.”

Time & Place controls a diverse development portfolio ranging from residential and commercial office projects to retail and industrial subdivisions.

Founded by Tim Price, the platform is no stranger to Melbourne’s western industrial market, where it currently has several developments in progress. Mr Price would not comment on the transaction.

Two months ago, it sealed an acquisition with ASX-listed logistics operator Qube Holdings to take over a large 137,000-square-metre property in Francis Street, Brooklyn, for $65 million.

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Just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, the group sold a large office project in East Melbourne on Victoria Parade for $330 million in a fund-through arrangement to Singapore-based ARA Asset Management.

Along with joint venture partner Jeff Xu’s Golden Age Group, it will manage that development through to completion.

Mobil’s bill for remediation of the Spotswood site is likely to run into millions of dollars, chewing up a significant portion of funds the company will net from the transaction.

The fuel refiner began remediation of the site in 2014, razing the above-ground petro-chemical infrastructure and removing piping, storage tanks, warehouses and office buildings.

The visibility of the high-volume storage tanks to many thousands of commuters crossing the 2.5-kilometre West Gate Bridge was a reminder of the inner west’s fast-changing industrial past.

The property is listed on the EPA’s latest polluted sites register, meaning it is subject to a legally enforceable clean-up or pollution abatement notice.

The freshly cleared land in Simcock Avenue, just a few kilometres from the city’s shipping docks, is likely to be carved up into smaller industrial allotments, developed with warehouse offices and sold or leased to multiple users.

Time & Place is completing a 16.7-hectare Williams Point industrial development in Maddox Road in Williamstown North this year and has another 21.5-hectare site at 16 – 36 Dohertys Road, Laverton North, under construction.

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Local News - Victoria

Wearing a face-mask for the very first time …


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OK, brace yourselves! Here is the biggest, mid-winter, second-wave, third-week household-lockdown news of all! On Thursday … I left my house. Actually left it! Walked out the door! I needed to buy ground coffee, because that spice-grinder stuff wasn’t doing it for me – when I added milk and sugar, it tasted like a coconut milk curry, which is delicious, but not the kind of deliciousness I crave first thing in the morning.

And my wife didn’t seem interested in buying any, even though I asked really nicely. So I headed down to my local IGA, wearing a face mask for the very first time. A stripey, home-made one that my wife sewed from a pair of old Peter Alexander pyjama pants (possibly using the crotch fabric because it fitted really snug over my nose).

Walking down the street in a pyjama pants face mask made me feel the slightest bit self-conscious. I was worried everyone was staring at me, though it was hard to tell – I couldn’t see much because my glasses fogged up with each exhalation and I had to keep wiping them clean with my pinkies on intermittent-wiper-mode.

But then again, everyone was wearing whacky masks: someone in a hospital mask, like a surgeon taking a quick break from neurosurgery, was unwinding by walking the dog. Someone in a cowboy bandana, like they’d just robbed the First National Bank and were escaping with the loot hidden inside a Bugaboo pram. Someone in an improvised face mask that may have been kitchen towelling, may have been a sanitary napkin, I didn’t want to look too closely.

I guess everyone’s feeling weird and self-conscious, just trying to manage in this new bizarro world. So I bought my coffee in my PJ mask, came home, and said to my wife, “Now this is ground coffee. This is what you should’ve bought!” And she just stood there, grinding her teeth, which probably would’ve turned those whole coffee beans into a fine espresso powder. Why didn’t I think of that?

By Friday I was exhausted. What a week. Fourth week is going to be huuuuuge.

Danny Katz is a Melbourne humourist.



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Now is not the time for parochial interstate rivalries


The skirmish between states such as Queensland and Western Australia over the location of this year’s AFL grand final has been unseemly and unbecoming. True, it might need to be played somewhere other than in Victoria, but other states feasting on our current misfortunes is churlish. And it is a disservice to what ought to be a national effort sensitive to communities in deep anguish over the depredations, economic, social and psychological, of this wretched virus.

Some of the curated media grabs from Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and other interstate leaders along with clickbait front pages at our expense make light of the most serious of predicaments.

A similar tussle has broken out over this year’s Melbourne Cup in circumstances that smack of the same opportunism at our expense. What’s worse, Victoria’s current outbreak is being treated by other states and territories as an opportunity to appropriate Victoria’s major events mantle, unmatched around the country. All while we are in lockdown.

Watching other states attempt this is like being consigned to a sickbed while people roam through your house wanting to snatch a choice selection of your best furniture that they can slot in the back of their car.

That’s why last week’s intervention by four former Victorian premiers was a powerful statement. And while the interventions were not intended to confer on the Victorian government immunity from due criticisms, the bipartisan complexion of the collective intervention was a valuable reminder that maintaining a level of positivity, anchored in reality, is important to our health and economic well-being.

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The Victorian economy, certainly before COVID-19, was worth well over $400 billion annually. It contributes a little over 25 per cent of the country’s output. If the worst predictions about the impacts of COVID-19 on the Victorian economy are realised, it will reverberate nationally.

Even the Victorian government’s own analysis factors in an unemployment rate as high as 11 per cent, bearing in mind that, at the moment, JobKeeper participation is suppressing the unemployment numbers. That is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just that we need to acknowledge that the longer lockdowns persist, the harder it will be for businesses on life support to retain staff. That’s why an extension of the JobKeeper program, either in its current form or in some amended form, will be important even though it won’t be able to save every business otherwise flatlining.

Leaders inspiring hope during this crisis and projecting the outlook we need is not tantamount to an immunity from proper scrutiny and accountability. It’s clear that certainly in Victoria, at least, the Coate inquiry into hotel quarantine, among other possible investigations, will need to identify failures and shortcomings so that errors can be corrected and avoided in the future while ensuring that those who should take responsibility for failures do so.

That optimism we need would do us a disservice only were we shielded from the truth and those with important responsibilities were able to avoid due accountability. Criticisms, whether in relation to hotel quarantine in Victoria or, say, the Ruby Princess in NSW, need to be aired and any lessons being shared.

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Over recent months, we have lauded the promise of the national cabinet that appears to have functioned, for the most part, well during this crisis. The members of that national cabinet should summon the very best qualities to avoid the pettiness we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks. We know that circumstances can change dramatically over a short period of time, meaning that no one can afford to take their eyes off the national effort as our highest priority. The temptation to practise the parochialism of interstate politics at this time needs to be met with the forbearance we all need governments to demonstrate.

The laws of realpolitik are stubborn but not immutable. Leaders, and in particular state leaders, are just going to have to rise above it all.

So, perhaps we can do without comments like, “Why would anyone want to go to South Australia?”.

The potential lethality of COVID-19 and its devastating material impacts are serious enough. But we should remember some of its deepest impacts are not visible and, to the extent that they may be, perhaps not as well known. The maturity that the current crisis demands is, if nothing else, a mark of respect and sensitivity to the tribulations so many are facing.

John Pesutto is a senior fellow at the School of Government at the University of Melbourne and a panellist on ABC Melbourne’s The Party Line and was Victorian opposition legal affairs spokesman from 2014 to 2018.

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It is time for the FFA to deliver for the Matildas


Australia will never have a better opportunity of winning a FIFA World Cup than the Matildas have in 2023.

The current squad under the captaincy of Sam Kerr rank among the best players in the world, and the Matildas are a world top 10 team.

With the Matildas coach Ante Milicic choosing to focus on the development of new A-League team — Macarthur FC — over coaching a national team in a World Cup at home, there is an opportunity for the FFA to do for the women’s team what they have done on several occasions for the men.

That is — get them the best money can buy.

It’s going to require an overseas search; it’s going to require an investment; it’s going to require fast action … as in today, not tomorrow.

One name springs to mind ahead of any other. Jill Ellis.

The coach who delivered back-to-back World Cup victories for the USA is available but probably not for long.

She is one of 142 on a list of applicants for the England team.

Sky Sports UK reported interviews for the job began last week.

Ellis is not likely to be cheap, but neither were Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek or Holger Osieck.

A woman stands on a float wearing sunglasses and a "World Champions" T-shirt, waving at the crowd.
Someone like United States women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis would be perfect to lead the team into the 2023 World Cup.(Reuters/USA TODAY Sports: Brad Penner)

They were three of the best available when the Socceroos went in search of a coach who could deliver.

And let’s not kid ourselves, the men were never going to the win the World Cup, but they got the best coaches available on each occasion.

If the Socceroos were entitled to a coach with a seven-figure salary, then money shouldn’t be an inhibiting factor in choosing one for the Matildas.

Time is running out

The Matildas are capable of winning the World Cup. They have another huge advantage … they’ll be competing at home.

Imagine what it would do to the psychology of the opposition before they even walked onto the pitch?

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Officials and players celebrate after learning Australia and New Zealand will host the World Cup.

Having to confront not just parochial sell-out crowds but a team of Australian players who’ve been making headlines in the best leagues in the world, and potentially with a coach who’s already won the past two FIFA Women’s World Cups?

Any winning coach will tell you that what makes the difference between winning and not is the “one percenters”.

With only 156 Mondays until the 2023 World Cup begins, time is actually short. There’s an Olympic games due in 12 months too.

What’s needed is someone who can hit the ground running, not someone learning on the job and who doesn’t actually know what it’s like to deal with the emotion and pressure of getting to a World Cup final — let alone win one. Or two.

FFA chief executive James Johnson says they’ll move “as swiftly as possible”.

“That said, we will not rush this appointment — we have 12 months before Tokyo 2020, and at least a few months before the Matildas return to friendly action,” he said.

“The Matildas are a globally recognised team competing internationally, so it is right that we open the process to well-credentialed candidates from both Australia and abroad.

“If we want to be the best in the world, we will need to consider the best in the world.”

Selfie with Samantha Kerr
The Matildas could become a globally recognised brand if the right support was in place.(Australian Story: Jennifer Feller)

Last week Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) released its The Next Step document with its vision for the women’s game in Australia.

Co-chief executive Kate Gill, a former Matildas captain, told The Ticket it was essential to find the right person.

“The players deserve it. The process of finding the right person must be transparent and one that the players have confidence in,” she said.

“Prioritising expediency, budgetary constraints or just picking who is available is not going to satisfy or benefit the players.

“The FFA needs to make a significant long-term investment in the selected individual and in the Matildas.”

Women’s football has been earmarked for expansion

Football is already Australia’s largest participation sport but a target growth area is the women’s game.

In recent years the Matildas have consistently been ranked as Australia’s favourite sporting team.

They have galvanized female and male sports fans in a way few other teams have.

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Should the Matildas have the opportunity to lift the World Cup trophy in three years’ time their fan base would expand beyond domestic shores.

Invest now. Reap the rewards later.

“The value of coaching the Matildas over the next few years will not solely be down to remuneration, but the opportunity to help shape a golden era in Australian sport,” Johnson said.

“The Matildas, like the Socceroos, have the ability to unite the nation.

“Appointing a coach who believes in both the on- and off-field vision for the Matildas will be paramount.”

Kate Gills says inviting the departing coach into the process of finding his replacement “would be a wise consideration as his insights into the playing group and what they consider best will be invaluable”.

Couldn’t agree more. But can it be done today? Not tomorrow?



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Enough COVID carbs, it’s time for some lockdown lettuce


We need go back only a few years earlier for a saucy continental dish, pasta puttanesca. Literally translated as pasta of ladies of the night or prostitute’s pasta. Frances Segan, author of Italian cookery books, dates this sauce back to World War II, a relatively newcomer on the pasta sauce scene.

Bunny chow is not a rabbit hunter’s stew but a hollowed out loaf of bread into which curry is poured.

Shepherd’s pie is another dish whose name positively oozes history, but again is relatively modern. Originating in Britain or Ireland, its mashed potato top immediately dates it after Walter Raleigh introduced the potato into the English diet in 1589. It appears to be a variation on cottage pie – a dish made with leftovers by worker’s families who then lived in cottages. Possibly the shepherd was added when lamb rather than beef became the preferred ingredient. Presumably shepherds would have eaten it, but so would many other workers.

Bunny chow is not a rabbit hunter’s stew, but appears to be a meal favoured by Gujarat merchants in India and popularised by Indian South Africans in Durban. It consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread into which curry is poured. It was a form of fast and easily transportable food to labourers in sugar cane plantations. This seems to be another recent addition, dating from the 1940s.

Snacking on junk food may be among pitfalls when working from home.

Snacking on junk food may be among pitfalls when working from home.Credit:Kerrie Leishman

Fish and chips may not be directly associated with an occupation, but they have been credited by Professor John Walton, author of Fish and Chips and the British Working Class with “bringing contentment and staving off disaffection” amongst the British working class during World War I. They were one of the only foods that were not rationed during the next encounter in 1939. Again surprisingly, this famous double act of fish and potato originates as recently as the 1860s, and by 1879, a Greek migrant had opened a fish and chip shop on Oxford Street in Sydney.

For reasons known only to cussed Australian fish shop owners, most are ignorant of the delights of the traditional accompaniment, mushy peas (aka Yorkshire Caviar). Except even these seem to be a very modern thing, with no reliable records beyond the 1970s, which seems unbelievable.

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One thing is certain, as work has reached its sedentary zenith in the lockdown, with much of it performed in pyjamas, we no longer need these industrial loads of carbs. We need new meals like “lockdown lettuce”, “COVID celery crush” or “stay-at-home steamed spinach”. Yeah right.

Jim Bright, FAPS is Professor of Career Education and Development at ACU and owns Bright and Associates, a Career Management Consultancy. Email to opinion@jimbright.com. Follow him on Twitter @DrJimBright



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Sam Stosur has become a mother for the first time with partner Liz Astling



Samantha Stosur has announced she became a mum last month after her partner, Liz Astling, gave birth to a baby girl.

The 36-year-old revealed via Instagram on Monday that on June 16, she and Ms Astling welcomed Genevieve into the world.

“Life in lockdown during coronavirus has been challenging in many ways but personally it’s been one of the most exciting and happy times of my life, Stosur wrote.

“Mum and Evie are doing well and it’s so amazing to be home with them both.

“We are absolutely in love with this little bundle and rolling with the happy chaos.

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“We can’t wait for what’s to come and to watch little Evie grow up … Although not too quickly we hope.”

Stosur won the US Open in 2011 and has six grand slam doubles titles to her name, three mixed doubles and three women’s doubles, including last year’s Australian Open that she won in partnership with China’s Zhang Shuai.

She is currently 97th in the world singles rankings and has spent 16 years inside the world’s top 100.

She has a career high singles ranking of four in the world, which she achieved in 2011.

Stosur has given no indication if she will be returning to tennis when events resume on August 1 for the first time since the season was put on hold in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AAP/ABC



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Local News - Victoria

It’s time to suck out the marrow of life


Even if we don’t believe in a Creator, we can all start each morning with a thank you – for light, air, space, water, even breakfast itself.

And if we just don’t feel up to celebrating life? A doctor I know has an infallible prescription: G.O.D. meaning “go outdoors”. It’s miraculous. Air, light, space, ply their magic instantly. Troublesome thoughts and feelings disappear into the ozone. The longer our time out, the better the response. We realise that we’re meant to be happy, to be free. We savour everything – breathing, our movement, the birdsong, the trees we see and smell, the bounding dogs sharing our path and our pleasure.

Even if work, illness, personal problems or the state of the world are the “crab grass in the lawn” of our lives, we can turn things around with a change in attitude. Psychologists know those who survived the Holocaust best had something or someone to live for. Their souls remained free to fight for their right to live.

Similarly, we read of people who have been abducted and kept in darkness crying at the colour and sweetness of an orange upon their release. They weep for the glory of what they had almost forgotten, and which we must never forget. The “incorrigibly plural” wonder of life.

Carol Frost is a Melbourne writer.



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More time, fixed terms


As we descended into the valley we saw a very large black panther ascending the hummocky paddock to our right (‘‘Tails of mystery as the hunt goes on’’, The Sunday Age, 5/7). We stopped and all 20 students and I got off the bus and ran towards the panther. I tried to get a better look through my camera but was so excited I failed to take a picture.

The panther was at least eight feet long with a large tail which it used as a ‘‘rudder’’ as it raced away up the escarpment.

I lived in Africa as a volunteer for nearly five years and did a good deal of game spotting. There is no doubt about what we all saw.

The farmer said they often found sheep carcasses which showed signs of particularly savage attack and everyone locally knew that it was a panther.

I do so wish I had pushed that camera button.
Bill Cleveland, Kew

Time-honoured practice
Ah, dear Jessica, we (mostly female) oldies were doing things similar to that which you espouse in your Money column (‘‘A guide to staying on track’’, The Sunday Age, 5/7).

Only we used that old-fashioned stuff called paper notes and coins stuffed into jars labelled ‘‘phone’’, ‘‘gas’’, electricity’’, ‘‘rent’’, etc. This was collected monthly or quarterly and handed over to the post office, bank or rental office. Worked well then, just different eras.
Bet May, Berwick

The problem of …
In the letter to The Sunday Age (‘‘Don’t deny the past’’, 5/7) your correspondent says that removing statues of tyrants and slave owners somehow changes the history of the nation.

However, erecting or removing statues and plaques doesn’t change history, as history has already happened. We remember history by reading books about bygone eras and statues and plaques are erected to commemorate and remember individuals and events.

In Germany there are many historical memorials and markers to remember the Holocaust but statues to commemorate Adolf Hitler or Heinrich Himmler would be unthinkable.
In Melbourne we’ve renamed streets to celebrate talented musicians including AC/DC and Roland S. Howard. Has history been re-written in the process? The history remains the same as we honour these people.

Times have changed as we realise that our Indigenous population deserves respect and should be included in discussions about who is honoured with statues and plaques. Time for Indigenous representation of statues and plaques to replace some of the white men, tyrants and slave owners. Archie Roach anyone?
Paul Elliott, Clifton Hill

… addressing the past
Your correspondent says we should embrace our history, not rewrite it.

While I agree with the first part of this statement, in order to do so we need our history to be accurately written so that we can move on from the myths, fairytales and straight-out mistruths that currently pass as our historical record.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Picking your battles
Warwick McFadyen is spot on about warmongering (‘‘Do we want freedom bought this way?’’, Opinion, The Sunday Age, 5/7).

In spite of Scott Morrison’s Churchillian rhetoric, there is no way Australia has, or will have, the military capacity to make even the tiniest impression on a superpower armed to the teeth with weapons and plenty of manpower.

Scott Morrison must recognise he cannot fight a war on two fronts, and, surely, the daily battles against the deadly coronavirus should be his most immediate concern.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

It’s not either/or
Philosophers and psychologists tell us that humans seek to make sense of, find a meaning to, their existence. Religious faith and secular science have evolved as two different ways of doing such.

Faith has been around for eons. Science, as we know it, has only been here for a few hundred years or so. Barney Zwartz in Faith (The Sunday Age, 5/7) begins his discussion about faith and science saying ‘‘atheists like to define faith as ‘belief without evidence’, or the opposite of knowledge’’ because ‘‘whoever wins the definition wins the debate’’.

I suggest that therein lies the real problem. It’s not so much there are differing ways of looking at reality, of making sense of the human condition. Rather it’s that it’s put in the terms of views being right or wrong, of winning or losing. Maybe if we looked at religion and science as being different sides of the same coin we could get a win-win outcome.

It’s not religious faith or atheistic certainty that kills people – it’s absolutism.
Allan Havelock, Surrey Hills

Make masks compulsory
Urging Victorians to wear masks may not be enough. For many years high-density developments have been built close to public transport corridors. Young people and workers are heavy users of public transport.

Maybe it is time to make masks compulsory on public transport. Conductors could even distribute them.
Andrew Gemmell, Glenroy

The Sunday Age’s regular Faith column can be found on page 21

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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Society needs a 'new abnormal': time to shake up the social contract



Passionately held opinions should not be a replacement for considered ideas and debate.



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