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Andrew DysonCredit: .

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The Drum, at its best, traversed a range of diverse topics managed skilfully by the excellent Julia Baird and Ellen Fanning. It embraced guests who provided intellectual rigour and spontaneity; and, thankfully, fewer males than was customary on such panel programs. Sadly, though, it became in time too smug and clubby, so much so that even those guests with whom one generally agreed became annoying. As a supporter of the Voice, I found the Drum panelists’ groupthink in relation to the referendum jarring, for example. An excellent program that served its purpose. Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Panelists were too often in furious agreement
Contrary to the views expressed by your correspondents, I believe that the main problem with The Drum was that far too often its presenters and carefully chosen panelists were in furious agreement with each other on the topics discussed (Letters, 15/12). This made for boring viewing for those who actually appreciate robust discussions, in which the diversity of opinions held by Australians is aired.
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East

An appalling decision by the ABC
As a long-time watcher of The Drum, I am totally devastated at its axing. It was the only program on television that brought together people of diverse backgrounds and (informed) opinion on an incredible range of matters of importance to Australians. And of those matters, discussion was wide ranging and respectful, something increasingly rare today. It was the best program on the television. I have gone from being a ″⁣friend″⁣ of the ABC to being not a fan. Appalling decision ABC.
Lee Knight, West Brunswick

Civilised discussion demands retaining it
Axe The Drum? It was the only issues-based program where both topic experts and community representatives appeared to speak on four or five issues of the day. The community representatives of all ages and races were chosen to represent minority groups as well as the major left and right-leaning organisations. If we want civilised discussion led by experienced facilitators The Drum is the answer.
Kay Cole, Hawthorn East

Diversity of opinion was its strength
It is disillusioning to read about the demise of The Drum on ABC TV. Surely one of the roles of the national provider is to provide some diversity in viewing options, regardless of ratings. A ratings figure of 144,000 suggests that there is definitely an audience seeking shows on television with some depth. And, by the way, neither I nor my very attentive pug were surveyed, so the final ratings figure should be 144,002, rounded up to 150,000, making it only a smidgeon short of 200,000, which, in turn, is as good as 400,000. How could the ABC ignore such a massive audience?
Ken McColl, East Geelong


More public school funds

It was encouraging to see the NAPLAN results and the number of public schools that outperformed some private schools (″⁣Public schools that out perform public rivals″⁣, 15/12).
However, it is still disappointing to see that 98 per cent of public schools are still funded at less than the Schooling Resource Standard and 98 per cent of private schools in excess of this standard. We are one of the few countries that subsidises private education, and the increased funding to private schools over the years is disgraceful. One can only hope that the next school funding agreement, to be negotiated with the states next year, finally puts paid to this divisive policy agreement, and that public schools are resourced appropriately.
Public schools are firmly based in their communities and consequently have a wider remit to serve the needs of all students, many from diverse backgrounds and differing socio-economic status. They also cater for the greater number of students nationally so increasing the funding share improves the outcomes for these students and, ultimately, society.
Denise Stevens, Healesville

Do they know it’s Christmas?
Whatever one’s beliefs, Christmas is still regarded by many as a religious, traditional or cultural celebration and should be respected as such.
Removing the word ″⁣Christmas″⁣ from public decorations is as absurd and insensitive as, say, banning the mention of ″⁣candles″⁣ from a Diwali festival.
Some common sense, mutual respect and consideration are desperately needed here.
Mary Cole, Richmond

Removal step too far
Stonnington Council acting to encourage “inclusivity ” thought that removing the word Christmas from their decorations was the way to go about it.
Removing the Christian reference from a Christian celebration is more of an exclusive exercise, that is excluding the Christians. Even as an atheist, I find this offensive.
Jim Kennedy, Coldstream

No whistling!
The AFL proposal to ban coaches whistling from the boundary to attract a player’s attention because it “interrupts the audio of match broadcasts” smacks of Monty Python.
Semaphore signals will be acceptable.
George Djoneff, Mitcham

Leave politics out of it
Usman Khawaja is quite entitled to his own opinion on any subject, including Palestine, but maybe he should keep it off the field. Would one of his teammates now receive the same support if he wore a black armband in solidarity with all the Christians who are persecuted in his native Pakistan, India or China?
Don’t sully this gentleman’s sport with politics. It’s just not cricket.
Roger Ginger, Falcon, WA

Protest by letter
If Usman Khawaja’s shoe message hadn’t been banned, it would hardly have been seen unless the TV camera operators had zoomed in on it when he was batting and fielding.
But should sporting personalities be taking advantage of their public positions to make a point while playing on TV?
Khawaja is getting plenty of support. But what if two or more members of the same team wore opposing messages? Khawaja’s message didn’t have to have the Palestinian colours. His message of “all lives are equal” in those colours excludes the Jewish people. Does he care about the threat to them? Does he support Hamas’ right to continue to terrorise Israel?
He should stick to playing cricket. If he wants to make a personal statement, he can join a protest march or rally like everyone else. Or write a letter to the editor.
Barry Kearney, Ringwood North

Energy obstacles
Government discounts alone won’t enable Victorians to switch to electric appliances if you happen to live in an inner-city Victorian cottage or terrace house with limited outdoor space to accommodate services.
In my recent attempt to switch to an all-electric household, I discovered that I am snookered by insufficient space to accommodate a heat pump for hot water or even the older technology of a hot-water storage tank. I also discovered that there is limited knowledge of options coming from the industry itself to convert existing gas boosters for hydronic heating to electric systems.
Surely, we can look to Europe for compact and affordable electric technology that allows people living in urban environments in Melbourne to physically make the switch now? Or maybe inner-city councils need to reconsider their four-bin waste system for two-people households which consumes space that could be used to accommodate heat pumps rather than half-empty bins?
Lisa Cummins, Brunswick East

The best gifts
Regarding Shona Hendley’s comments (13/12) on Christmas gifts for teachers, like many teachers, my cups, or mugs in this case, runneth over. This year, I had the pleasure of leading a group of young students who made a donation to World Vision on my behalf. A gift consistent with both my own social justice interests and the ethos of our school.
However, like Hendley, my most memorable and treasured gift is that of a hand-written note, that simply said: “You make me feel good about myself.“
Tony Dalton, Aspendale

A parent’s thank you
At the end of another challenging and exhausting year, the one thing any teacher would truly appreciate is a heartfelt, personal letter or card from a parent recognising the contribution that teacher has made to the growth of their child. My collection of those cherished memories is one of my most precious possessions after over 40 years in education.
Jack Fisher, Wheelers Hill

Power of gambling
Political expediency seems to be what happens when parties get into power.
Promises aren’t worth the ether that they are printed on. When funds are received, favours have been bought.
The question that should be asked is what does the gambling industry in particular have to gain by donations to political parties?
The answer revolves around ensuring that their vast profits can continue and that the spread of their business is not curtailed or put into decline. There could be no other reasons.
Changes to gambling laws and advertising comes down to whether a government has the fortitude, decency and the morality to do the honourable things: either to refuse to take the money, or to accept the money with no strings attached, and make policies and have legislation that are in the best interests of the community.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Return local news
The Drum has received a lot of support in this newspaper but I dream of another more interesting TV stream, the retrieval and discussion of local news particular to each state and region, with emphasis on the latter.
Advances in all other aspects of society seem to have halted in this area.
The increasing cultural divide of city from rural, and state from state, could be relieved by a closer focus on the regions throughout Australia as well as adding variety to our diet.
At least an hour of it.
Graeme Butler, Alphington

ABC, look to Sundays
Sad to hear my regular weekly viewing of The Drum will be soon no longer.
Really, if it was a budget decision, ABC management could cast an eye to a show on Sunday mornings that is now a sad shadow of its glory days under its former host, Barrie Cassidy.
Peter McGill, Lancefield

The real phase-out
Tragically, we all know that the phase-out of fossil fuels will coincide with the date of its mining cost exceeding its worth.
George Stockman, Berwick

It’s incredible
The most overused word is ″⁣incredible″⁣; there are so many other words to describe something impressive.
Kevin Howard, Frankston


The message of Christmas is universal and positive. The absence of “Christmas” in Stonnington Council’s decorations would have been more tolerable if it had promoted peace and goodwill rather than spruiking ″⁣Make Merry″⁣.
Paul Spinks, South Geelong

Perhaps Stonnington Council could replace its ″⁣Make Merry″⁣ signs with ″⁣Festivus″⁣ (for the rest of us) signs?
David Mitchell, Moe

All I want for Christmas is world peace.
Steve Barrett, Glenbrook

Given Usman Khawaja’s stated beliefs, if he were to write on his cricket boots in these Tests: “Free Imran Khan”, would that be too political too for CA and the ICC?
Andrew Farran, Malvern

If the ICC believes statements ″⁣All lives are equal″⁣ and ″⁣Freedom is a human right″⁣ are political, then everything’s political. Whatever his sympathies, Usman Khawaja’s words are non-partisan and inoffensive.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Usman Khawaja is right – all lives are equal. It’s a simple fact. The ICC needs to accept that.
Linelle Gibson, Williamstown

Congratulations Oakleigh South Primary School on its academic results. Just think of the results that could be achieved in other state schools if all taxpayer funding was directed into the public system.
Barry Lizmore, Ocean Grove

The US has requested that Australia sends a warship to the Middle East. No doubt, as usual, we will come running.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Rising gas prices will be irrelevant to those who change to all electrical appliances.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

The discussion regarding who are the real doctors reminds me of the line, ″⁣If everybody is somebody then nobody is anybody.″⁣
Kevin Luxford, Mount Waverley

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