Balance of power useless without principles Robyn Godbehere writes: Re. "Meet the senators who hold the balance of power" (yesterday). It doesn't matter who holds the balance of power -- if they are swayed by promises from Abbott and company, then they would not only let themselves down but their supporters as well.  Abbott simply does not keep his promises,  but his mentor has a really good grasp on wording discussion to allow Abbott to slip through the holes. Those poor, brave smokers Bruce Prior writes: Re. "Smoking out the truth in the Oz's plain packaging war" (yesterday) In relation to David Llwellyn-Smith's remark, "It's fair enough that the state does what it can to prevent smoking, given it picks up the healthcare costs ...", I am surprised that the Oz has not quoted that greatest of orators Sir Humphrey Appleby when he said: "Cigarette taxes pay for a third of the cost of the National Health Service [Medicare?]. We are saving many more lives than we otherwise could because of those smokers who voluntarily lay down their lives for their friends." Greater love hath no man [person] than one who so altruistically smokes for the greater good. Of church and state (schools) Alison Alexander writes: Re. "Religion in schools" (yesterday). In reply to Keith Binns -- in Australia churches did not start the school system. Governments did.  Churches sometimes helped, but the majority state system has always been just that, run and paid for by the state (except for a few short experiments, for example in Van Diemen's Land in the 1840s).  Churches were responsible only for their own private schools.