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Premier’s Nazi costume reveals a failure of education

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Fascist imagery

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s grovelling apology for wearing a Nazi uniform at the age of 21 beggars belief (“Perrottet adamant NSW Liberal Party remains ‘strong’ amid Nazi costume revelation”, 13/1). How was it possible to be so historically illiterate in 2003 after a school education at Redfield College in Sydney and at the University of Sydney? And it apparently took his parents to admonish him.

In the case of Prince Harry he was more of a juvenile, but again, what does it say about his education at Eton and influences within the royal family? All those educational policy makers who have been so loud in espousing the supposed virtues of STEM should stand aside while those who have some understanding of the ways history permeates our world reorientate curriculum priorities. A deep and incisive study of history may help us all understand why, for example, Putin thinks Ukraine is part of Russia, and why a referendum on the question of an Indigenous Voice to parliament is about to be put to us.
John Whelen, Box Hill South

Little understanding of uniforms, history
As a secular Jew, I’m acutely aware of the sensitivities, particularly for survivors and their families. However, how many 21-year-olds, especially non-Jewish 21-year-olds, comprehend what that uniform represents? At that age, uniforms, particularly historic uniforms, are often little more than costumes worn by adults.

The Nazi uniform represents one of the worst periods in human history and it’s crucial that the broader community is reminded of that. Its chilling image evokes shocking memories and immense pain, especially for survivors and their descendants.

However, given Perrottet’s seemingly genuine and heartfelt apology and offer of contrition, perhaps a proportional, rational, calm and sympathetic response might be appropriate and may indeed better serve both the Jewish and the broader Australian community.
Eric Meltzer, Malvern East

Attack by factional enemies
The belated admission by Dominic Perrottet that he wore a Nazi costume to a party when he was 21, though disappointing, should be perceived primarily as a “gotcha” moment conveniently unearthed by his factional enemies. Its value should not lie in being seen as a reflection of the man in 2023. Although not a supporter of the Liberal Party, he has impressed me from afar as a conservative and intelligent politician with a refreshing willingness to reach out in a bipartisan policy way to the likes of Dan Andrews. Perhaps the NSW government could now emulate those 21 US states that mandate Holocaust education as part of their public school curriculums.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

An age of embarrassment
So the dogs are barking at Dominic Perrottet because he wore a Nazi uniform at his 21st birthday bash. But didn’t we all do stupid things at that age? I certainly did and I sometimes look back with embarrassment – but I don’t tell anyone! Fortunately I have grown up and learnt from my stupid mistakes.

One of the most loved comedy programs – Monty Python – frequently mocked the Nazi culture and everyone laughed at it. Let those without sin cast the first stone.
John Cummings, Anglesea

THE FORUM

Ban the evil salute
At every opportunity to do so, Thomas Sewell gives a Nazi salute (“White supremacist spared prison”, 13/1). After assaulting a security guard, he avoided a jail sentence, then left the court without any regret or remorse. For the benefit of the media and those watching the news he threw yet another Nazi salute. The government has seen fit to ban the swastika, which was a desecration by the Nazis of another sacred symbol.

It is time there was action to outlaw the Nazi salute. Such behaviour is sickening, and I cannot even begin to imagine how the Jewish people feel and particularly descendants of those who were victims of the Nazi death camps.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

Jail terms
A woman peacefully blocks traffic on the Harbour Bridge to highlight the climate emergency and gets sent to prison. A neo-Nazi assaults a Channel Nine security guard and walks free (on a community correction order). Go figure.
Joe Nieuwenhuizen, Somers

Connecting the costs
Peter Dutton cannot join the dots in the climate impact matrix. He won’t commit to Labor strategies to reduce carbon emissions as “these costs will be passed on to consumers who are already doing it tough” (“Greens may block Labor on carbon offset plan”, 13/1) but can’t see that much of the 16.2per cent inflation on fruit and vegetables is due to floods having “wrought havoc on supply chains” (“Floods cost economy $5b as ill wind forecast to continue”, 13/1).
Bernd Aberle, Southbank

Data doesn’t lie
Nick O’Malley’s article citing figures showing that the past eight years have been the hottest on record (The Age, 13/1) should convince those who point to recent freezing weather in the US and Europe and a cool start to summer in arguing global warming is a figment of scientists’ imagination. These deniers claim that any warming is a natural cycle of climate variation.

Data now shows global warming is constant and inexorable. It is up to us whether we take the immediate action needed to at least slow this warming phenomenon.

The Albanese government’s climate strategies may not be perfect but they demand support from all politicians. Let’s not fiddle while Rome burns because of some differences in the detail of our approach to tackling this urgent, pending disaster.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West

Switch the cable
The plan to ship solar power to Singapore is on shaky ground (“Billionaires’ war of words heats up over Sun Cable”, 13/1). All is not lost, now we can reroute the 4200-kilometre cable along the already cleared routes of the Ghan and the Indian Pacific and connect this huge solar farm into the national power grid servicing all of Australia and its people.
Lance Wilson, Brighton East

Profound reflection
Such a profound reflection by Waleed Aly (“Jan’s parting gift a lesson for life”, 13/1) on his mother-in-law’s path to death. So much wisdom in acknowledging the beauty of a life ending well as a great parting gift. I’m grateful that Aly found the strength to share the insight gained at a time of such deep loss.
Merridie Costello, Frankston

Be not hurried
Waleed Aly’s heartfelt musings and tributes to the imminent passing of his beloved mother-in-law is both sobering and wonderfully reflective. Yes, we humans fear and in most cases avoid the inevitable. Grieve in your unique ways; accept the inevitable phase of great sadness, be hurried not by time expectations of those around you who may impose an emotional recovery deadline.
As is said by those of us in the Jewish community, “I wish you all a long life”.
Maurie Johns, Mount Eliza

Valuable journey
I lost the love of my life, my wife, Toby, my soulmate and best friend of 56 years, in almost identical circumstances as Waleed’s mother-in-law, Jan. Many families have, and will struggle with similar anguish. I have spent the last 10 months transitioning from absolute grief to now luxuriating in wonderful memories of our devotion and life together. Waleed has truly captured the moment and the feelings that prevail during that final, impossibly heart-wrenching journey. He has certainly reinforced my own belief that the inevitability of death and how it can be handled with love and care, as well as grief, can progress into beauty and life-long happiness.
Chris Malkin, Malvern

Keep to public problems
Please turn off the continuous stream of your writers using their columns to write obituaries for their family members and tributes for their heroism in the face of terminal illness or a medical event. This week alone we’ve had a column about Kate Halfpenny’s mother’s broken ribs and trips to ICU and Waleed Aly’s mother-in-law’s terminal decline.

We as readers don’t know these people. We expect to buy a newspaper to read about news and “public problems/issues”, not to mourn the “private troubles” of columnists’ family members.
Jan Powning, Northcote

A better path
It’s intriguing that George Pell, a man of such obvious intelligence, had such a pliable moral compass. Barney Zwartz (Comment, 12/1 ) was spot on when he said Pell was a faithful servant of the church, not its flock. It would have been better for everyone had Pell chosen the path of the Richmond Football Club.
Russell Kidd, Carnegie

Church’s obvious step
Your correspondent rightfully looks forward to ″⁣a Catholic Church of humility, inclusion and compassion″⁣ – so why should not now women be admitted to the ministry – most of the nuns I have known have been more inclined to exhibit these virtues than priests.
Peter Drum, Coburg

Pell’s omission
Your correspondent (12/1) claims that Pell is being unfairly targeted as there is ″⁣not a shred of evidence that he was culpable either by act or omission″⁣. She is wrong. The findings of a five-year royal commission into child sexual abuse, although disputed by Pell, were that he both knew about child abuse, particularly within the Victorian diocese of Ballarat, and failed to take proper steps to act on numerous complaints about dangerous priests including Gerald Ridsdale and Peter Searson.
John Togno, Mandurang

Aggressive truckers
The next time the PM has a barbie at Lindsay Fox’s clifftop mansion perhaps he could respectfully raise the issue of large trucks emblazoned with the Linfox logo barrelling down Melbourne’s freeways, in all weathers, in the outside lane, tailgating motorists. While not the only offenders, the Linfox trucks are certainly the most prominent.
Michael Slocum, Ascot Vale

It’ll be over soon
To those wanting to forget about Harry and Meghan, don’t worry, it will happen sooner than you think. Already people have forgotten where this saga started. It wasn’t that Harry is lazy and “wants the life of a royal but doesn’t want to do the work” (Letters, 13/1). Quite the opposite. By January 2020 he had decided he didn’t want to work “full-time” as a royal and did want to become financially independent – something you’d have thought all those who complain about the cost of royalty would have applauded. Part-time work in the family business wasn’t an unreasonable request, but he was quickly told it was “all or nothing” and was given the cold shoulder.

In spite of this unedifying transition period, Harry made the right decision. The sooner he’s off the front pages, the sooner everyone will settle down.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Mate misused
As Carolyn Webb says (Comment, 13/1), the word “mate” is widely abused and misused. Tensions rise between two men in a pub. Trying to calm things, one says, “Steady on mate”. The other bloke replies, “Don’t call me mate, mate!”
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

The guy problem
Carolyn Webb, are you un-Australian? No you’re OK mate. What bugs me is going into a cafe with my wife and being greeted with ″⁣can I help you guys″⁣ when it’s obvious my wife is a sheila not a guy!
John Lindsay, Benalla

Regrettable loss
Congratulations to those defending the letter ″⁣T″⁣, which is being dominated by its heavier sibling ″⁣D″⁣. But may I raise the case of poor ″⁣L″⁣, swallowed by the voracious ″⁣Y″⁣ to the point where miyons of Austrayans cannot even name our own sports teams – ″⁣the Austrayan captain has elected to bat″⁣.
Elaine Hill, Warrnambool

Summer delight
The My Summer series in The Age is a lovely light read in the midst of all the mayhem in the world. Yesterday’s instalment, featuring Asylum Seeker Resource Centre founder Kon Karapanagiotidis was a delight.

Kon enjoys simple pleasures (“the scent of fresh basil”). But there is no break for his sense of social justice. Is the worst thing about summer the buzz of mosquitoes? No, it’s “knowing how difficult holiday times are for so many”. Kon, you are a legend!
Maryanne Barclay, Frankston South

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

And another thing

George Pell
With regard to George Pell, one of Mark Twain’s quotes is: “The church is always trying to get other people to reform; it might not be a bad idea to reform itself a little, by way of example.”
Steve Barrett, Glenbrook

Since we are cautioned “not to speak ill of the dead” and considering so few are saints when they leave us, that is a tough call indeed.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

Dominic Perrottet
Dominic Perrottet wearing a Nazi uniform wasn’t “a mistake”. He didn’t put it on by accident. It was a decision.
Julie Conquest, Brighton

I hope no one remembers what I did at my 21st.
Ross Barke, Lakes Entrance

A mistake is something you can fix using an eraser or liquid paper. A mistake isn’t dressing up in a Nazi uniform for your 21st birthday.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

A big mistake Dominic. You should have blamed someone else, like Harry did.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Fox barbie
Why would Lindsay Fox invite the premier and prime minister to a private barbecue at his Portsea beach house?
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Hey Albo, barbie at ours next Sunday. Sorry, chopper being serviced.
Geoffrey Binder, Black Hill

Australian Open
Since booing Novak Djokovic has been verboten, perhaps those who were inclined to do this, could greet his appearance with complete silence.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Would Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley also like to have a go at stamping out booing at AFL matches? Good luck.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Finally
Having form for blocking Labor’s agenda on climate reform, it seems the greenest thing about the Greens is envy.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

Ironically, the hottest nine years straight we have just recorded will be the coolest nine years we will experience from now on.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

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