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Australia’s position is increasingly untenable
Your editorial (“Disasters show climate action can’t be delayed”, The Age, 19/7) on the worsening natural disaster profile of global warming was timely. Disaster management experts around the world are well aware of the risk multiplier effect of climate change on most natural disasters. Heatwaves, and their attendant “silent” mortality, and bushfires are two of Australia’s most deadly. Aside from the human suffering, for every dollar spent in mitigation we save $6 in after-the-fact mop-ups, according to global experts.
The moral arguments here, in the minds of many, long eclipsed the “balance sheet” accounting mentality we see from some quarters. When the basics of disaster management and mitigation are applied the ledger is stacked towards joining the collective effort and our nation’s position is seen as untenable.
Marianne Cannon, Suffolk Park, NSW
Time to stop rewarding self-interest
Barnaby Joyce’s statement that he would lose the leadership if he “even contemplated agreeing to a target” of net zero emissions by 2050 perfectly encapsulates the level of dysfunction our political system has reached. There is a bizarre irony in the honesty of his statement, when so much that emerges from other politicians’ mouths is dishonest.
When the goal of governing becomes to serve self-interest, prioritising personal ambition and financial gain above public good, then the long list of objectively irrational and damaging parliamentary decisions becomes rational and effective in the minds of their proponents. Unfortunately, as long as voters continue rewarding such behaviour in return for their own few pieces of silver at election time, then such decisions will continue.
Joe Di Stefano, Geelong
It’s your job to develop the plan, Barnaby
When asked about net zero in 2050, Barnaby Joyce, on Insiders, said “show me a plan and what it costs”. It is disheartening to have to remind Mr Joyce that the Coalition has been in government for the past eight years.
Barnaby, you are part of the government, it is your job to come up with the plan, it is your job to cost the plan. What on earth have you been doing for the past eight years? Climate change is happening; wilful ignorance won’t make it go away.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
Evidence is right on our doorstep
Your editorial highlighted floods and fires affecting the Northern Hemisphere and too easily provides incompetents, such as Mr Joyce, with a “nothing to see here” line to deliberately create doubt and division on the subject of climate change. In fact, we have frightening examples of the outcomes we can expect from a warming planet right here in Victoria.
The storms of mid-June in Dandenong and East Gippsland were unusual because of their intensity and the amount of energy unleashed on our communities, caused by a warming Tasman Sea. The outcome being millions of dollars in damage.
John White, Burwood East
Independent members our only hope
Tony Wood [Grattan Institute’s energy program director] is right when he says the Morrison government has no appetite for the controversial call to push Australia into the 21st century (“Electric cars ‘only way’ to net zero 2050”, The Age, 19/7). It has proven to be its MO: promise the world and deliver fairy floss. Having seen what the electorate, at his bequest, did to Labor’s clearly articulated plan for the future, the Coalition rank and file appears quite happy to support the status quo. A shell-shocked Labor, under Albanese, has taken a similar fearful stance.
The reality is that world car manufacturers are phasing out the internal combustion engine and once again we face being left behind. It would appear the only way we can break the nexus of Tweedledee and Tweedledum is to elect responsible independent members to represent us.
John Mosig, Kew
Not worth the risk
So here we are in an extended lockdown once again. In my case that means trying to deliver a science curriculum to students over the internet, with a minority of students prepared to show their faces and most remaining silent throughout a session. So we really have no idea whether they’re even tuned in, and in many cases will be otherwise occupied on another device. The cost of this repeated disruption to those students’ learning will be enormous.
While the two removalists may have seeded the outbreak, the elephant in the room is surely the two sporting events that have then spread it far and wide. How is the pleasure afforded to a few thousand worth the cost educationally, economically and socially to the wider community?
At present, mass crowds at sporting events, festivals etc that draw people from a wide geographic area are simply not worth the potentially huge costs to society.
Alex Judd, Blackburn North
Federal body needed
Former NSW government ministers have been convicted for their “misconduct” (“Ex-Labor ministers face jail over coal deal”, The Age, 20/7). In her judgment Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said it was “fundamental to our system of government” that ministers of the Crown always acted “conscientiously and honestly in the public interest”.
This misconduct was uncovered by the NSW ICAC. When will we have a corresponding federal body, with full powers to investigate corruption by parliamentarians and others? The Auditor-General is doing a worthy job, but with limited jurisdiction and decreasing funding.
The responsibility to act “in the public interest” is at odds with the reported behaviour of government ministers in the matter of sports grants and now the highly politicised grants for car parks. We deserve representatives who will act conscientiously and honestly, and in the public interest.
Peter Moore, Clifton Hill
‘Gold standard’ denial
Days into the Sydney outbreak, I was critical of Gladys Berejiklian for not introducing a harsher lockdown, suggesting she was gambling with the health of the NSW public. Ms Berejiklian however could see no need for harder restrictions. But with more than 1000 local cases from the highly transmissible Delta variant, and no sign of the crisis abating, widespread calls for the Premier to go harder appear to have finally been heard. Tough new rules have been introduced, including closing the construction industry, defining what constitutes essential business and stopping residents in Sydney’s south-west from leaving home unless they are health or emergency workers.
Ms Berejiklian’s failure to lock down weeks ago is catastrophic, not only for NSW but also Victoria, which is confronting its own lockdown. What is clear is the NSW Premier’s “gold standard” of denial and evasion of responsibility.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne
The Katie Hopkins deportation has revealed the deliberate and targeted perpetuation of uncivilised behaviour by the media in their contrived reality TV shows as a means to make money. The complicity of the federal and NSW governments is laid bare with their sanctioned sponsorship to approve her visa on the dubious basis of being a potential benefit to the economy.
This has disturbingly devalued and traded-off Australians who are stranded overseas. Equally disturbing was the faux outrage of Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews towards Hopkins’ behaviour when her government had allowed Hopkins to come here ahead of stranded Australians.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
Rethinking large events
Hooray! Finally someone is talking about learning from COVID-19 and reviewing the way we conduct large-scale events, particularly sporting events. I know some people in the industry have been frustrated and disappointed by the rush to get back to doing things the way we did. This is an industry that can be innovative and resourceful but a pre-COVID nostalgia and a profound disinclination to think about the next pandemic, or even epidemic, have stifled new thinking and the desire to do better. Now’s the time!
Alison Fraser, Ascot Vale
Freedoms being lost
The COVID-19 crisis seems to be accompanied by a new injection – an anaesthetic designed to dull the population into accepting removal of freedoms out of all proportion to the fight against a contagious virus. The very notion that consideration is being given to disallowing large crowds to attend sporting events on a more permanent basis would have been treated with gross incredulity in the not too distant past. However in a climate of grossly exaggerated fear, it seems that large swaths of the electorate are prepared to accept anything that unelected and unaccountable health bureaucrats decree is required. Long-cherished freedoms are being permanently and unnecessarily lost. This stupendous over-reaction is a tragedy for our nation.
Peter Curtis, Werribee South
Democracy on steroids
The COVID-19 pandemic has given us a rare opportunity to examine our democratic system. Usually governments take advice from experts and make decisions using a combination of their own policies, and what they think voters want. Often beyond public view or interest.
With COVID, the experts are scientists whose main purpose is the pursuit of truth, whereas normally the experts are people with unabashed self-interest. Because COVID is affecting people’s immediate life experiences, we are taking an interest in the information and how this is being interpreted and applied. And all this, including changing knowledge about COVID, is happening at a rapid speed. Put simply, it is democracy on steroids.
COVID could improve our democratic practices by creating a new approach, whereby governments transparently obtain information from a range of sources, and explain what values and principles they have applied to the data to make their decisions. When conditions change, requiring a different policy, this is explained and any mistakes admitted, rather than the glib PR exercises and blame-shifting we are usually treated to.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North
Big tick on school reports
I congratulate your education reporters on their “Schools that Excel” series, because they focus on the performances of individual schools and eschew the dodgy “league tables” we see from time to time. For a number of reasons, it is not valid to compare different schools on the basis of their average VCE study scores, but comparing such results in the same school over time is comparing apples with apples and potentially illuminating. It is fair to say that a school has improved academically, or at least improved its academic results, if these numbers have risen – providing of course the subjects on offer and the relative numbers of students taking them have remained much the same.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura
Vaccine is available
To your correspondent, Frank Flynn (Letters, 20/7), writing that his two sons in their 20s are not eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19: there is a vaccine available to them right now. It’s called AstraZeneca, and my 19-year-old son received his first dose last week.
Possessed of a rational understanding of percentages and risk that our federal government and its advisers seem to lack, he signed up for it as soon as it was made available. The almost imperceptible trickle of Pfizer vaccines coming into Victoria should disabuse any young person of the idea that they’ll soon be getting theirs.
Scott C. Hurley, Brighton East
Height ban needed
Permitting the inappropriately oversized developments in Collingwood to the east side of Wellington Street has opened a progression of oversized and undistinguished developments gradually moving across Wellington and up the Collingwood slope (“Fear towers will ruin ‘soul’ of inner city”, The Age, 19/7). Each relies on the previous to justify its excessive height. As a result, in discussion with Yarra’s planners, one hears the weasel words “emerging character” used, as though previous planning infelicities justify more.
Over the past 30 years the area has been able to renovate within its existing architecture, much of which has character and is consistent with the general area. No sooner has this happened than developers see an opportunity to exploit the attractiveness of the vibrant and rejuvenated area to market their buildings.
Before these areas are ruined, an overall height ban, consistent with the existing character and not influenced by the presence of existing buildings, should be imposed.
Adam Thomson, Collingwood
Urban density essential
As a long-term Brunswick resident, I believe developments need careful planning and developers need guidance. However, with the government planning for the population of Melbourne to increase to 10 million by 2040, increased urban density, rather than urban sprawl, is essential. The government’s planning encompasses a built urban environment covering the surrounds of Western Port, as far as Phillip Island, and severely threatens our ecosystems and environment. This planned urban sprawl will, for example, destroy the Western Port woodlands for sand extraction, eliminating the last example of this type of ecosystem in the world. Urban development must be pursued, with codes requiring good-quality, high-density, and appropriate family-friendly buildings close to workplaces. If we act now, we might save both our urban heritage and rein in the ecological degradation and species extinction that Australia has excelled in.
Andrew Allen, Brunswick
AND ANOTHER THING …
It’s now evident we’ve been duped into a false sense of safety with our border restrictions, when, in fact, you could drive a truck through them.
Greg Stephens, Footscray
Dan is showing us platinum-class COVID management. A big step up from the gold standard.
Peter Radcliffe, Templestowe
Cannot the AFL be fined for not enforcing the COVID rules regarding masks and distancing at its matches?
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
It’s time for those who are fully vaccinated to be exempt from lockdown.
Dianne Lewis, Mount Martha
I thought the federal government’s COVIDSafe app was the gold standard fraud but its “bottom of the car park scheme” takes the cake.
Paul Chivers, Box Hill North
Surely the revelation that the promised car parks were costed at $115,000 a space suggests more than just pork-barrelling.
Peter Knight, St Arnaud
$115k for a car park space? Makes Cartier watches look like show bag toys.
Jean Andrews, Cheltenham
The UK declaring Freedom Day is akin to the turkeys voting for Christmas.
Stephen Dinham, Metung
Boris, gasping on a ventilator doesn’t give you much freedom!
David Seal, Balwyn North
Not a Cinderella fairytale COVID ending for England after all …
Nick Jensen, Canterbury
Why bother with a census when the Liberal-National pork barrel makes all the decisions?
Maree Coote, Port Melbourne
What is happening at our ABC? Hamish Macdonald and James Hancock have both left in recent weeks. Superb talent walking away from our national broadcaster. Such a shame.
Mark Jessup, Ashburton
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