Thursday, 3 Dec 2020

Our national leaders must face up to reality

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CLIMATE CHANGE

Our national leaders must face up to reality
The Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements emphasises that climate change will worsen disasters during the next 20-30 years, so we especially need increased federal-state/territory co-ordination plus massive human adaptation and resilience.

But, as expert Greg Mullins points out, ‘‘the findings should mean no new coal or gas projects’’ and far stronger, federal government genuine emission reductions by 2030 (‘‘Warning on climate as bushfires threat rises’’, The Age, 31/10), and, tragically, the government defies both.

Climate science has warned that this is the decade for actions to stop global warming becoming unstoppable. Our national leaders must now become realistic, responsible, and globally co-operative.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

Singing from the same song sheet
Joel Fitzgibbon is urging the ALP into a thinly disguised endorsement of the Coalition’s so-called ‘‘gas-led recovery’’. This is highly regrettable, for although some use of gas in the short term may be justified, the Coalition gas plan is grossly over the top, and greatly hinders the prospect of urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions.

This acquiescence by the ALP is driven by short-term considerations and smacks of the same callous use of intergenerational theft that drives current Coalition climate policies.

When 18-25-year-olds vote at the next federal election many of them will have in mind the hellish world in which they will be forced to live in 20-30 years without urgent action on global heating. They may be left with little incentive to vote for either the ALP or the Coalition.
Ian Bayly, Upwey

The issue that bedevils Australian politics
The winner of the next federal election may well be determined by the issue that has bedevilled politics in Australia for more than a decade – climate change.

Climate sceptic Tony Abbott rose to power on this issue in 2013, but was replaced two years later by a climate-action advocate in Turnbull. Peter Dutton threw his hat into the leadership-ring, but lost to Morrison – a public-relations practitioner willing to wave a lump of coal in Parliament.

Last week Scott Morrison stood firm against ‘‘foreign pressure on climate’’ (‘‘PM rejects foreign pressure on climate’’, The Age, 29/10). But never say never with a marketing man needing votes. If Joe Biden wins the White House, international trade may further tighten the screws on countries like Australia that underperform on climate action.

Labor, boosted by victory in Queensland, will now need to clearly outline its federal policies endorsing the change from significant reliance on fossil fuels (including gas) to green energy from wind, solar and hydro, with pumped hydro and battery storage. The new jobs bonus involved should excite many workers fearful for their employment future and stimulate our economy emerging from COVID-19.
Neil Wilkinson, Mont Albert

The message is booming loud and clear
I desperately hope that Scott Morrison heeds The Age’s editorial (‘‘A call to arms on greenhouse emissions’’, 31/10); it’s booming loud and clear from the Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements.

His hardline colleagues have guaranteed that ‘‘the Coalition has spent seven years offering empty rhetoric and wedge politics’’, and Mr Morrison seems oblivious to any pressure from international organisations and dismissive of even a phone call from the British Prime Minister.

Surely he must be embarrassed that Japan, China and South Korea, countries that consume 90 per cent of our natural gas exports and 70per cent of our thermal coal, have now issued stronger pledges than we have. A Biden victory in America would really up the ante. It’s impossible to reconcile a ‘‘gas-fired recovery’’ with the commission’s statement that ‘‘extreme weather has already become more frequent and intense because of climate change’’.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

THE FORUM

It’s become the rule
Joan Reilly (Letters, 31/10) notes ‘‘all the unmasked tradies’’ in her local Surrey Hills area, and suggests businesses that fail to enforce COVID-19 safety rules be shut down for a fortnight to avoid a potential third COVID-19 wave.

The lack of mask-wearing on building sites is so widespread as to be the rule – as anyone living near, or passing by, a renovation or residential construction can attest.

Those concerned at this fundamental breach of COVID-19 protection can note the site address, date, time, name of the building company, names of trade companies at the site and pass on this information to the COVID-19 breach hotline.

Yes, some may sneer and call this dobbing, but many others will question why non-compliance should be allowed to jeopardise the hard-won gains against the virus’ spread, and the safety and health – physical, emotional, mental and economic – of the families and communities of Melbourne, and Victoria.

The number to call is 131 444.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

They’re not commodities
Sadly, the racing carnival is becoming less like a carnival and more like a wake. Every year we hear about the lack of transparency and cruelty that exists within the racehorse industry.

While some improvements have been made with the rehoming of some racehorses, stakeholders have clearly been dragging their feet when it comes to introducing improved practices. If the industry wants horse racing to continue to be supported by mainstream Australians, they need to clean up their act.

Treating these beautiful animals as commodities and disposing of them as trash once they can no longer perform or make money for their owners and punters is a disgrace.

Racing Australia needs to work with the states to establish owner accountability, a national registry of racehorses, the licensing of breeders and a reduction in the numbers of horses bred.

Hopefully then, next year’s racing carnival will be just that, a carnival.
Georgina Manger, Hawthorn East

Why the delay?
As a lifelong modest punter, small-time part owner of a few racehorses and devotee of the sport, I join others in calling for an immediate prohibition on whip use in horse racing.
Racing Victoria wants a phase-out, but why wait? In several countries this cruel and unnecessary practice is already banned. Research indicates the whip does not improve horse handling or horse speed.

Get rid of it immediately. Jockeys could continue to carry a whip but it should be strictly limited in use to avert dangerous situations.
Royce Bennett, Baxter

Itching for a visit
I cannot but agree with Wendy Squires (‘‘Staying loyal to Melbourne’’, Comment, 31/10) that Melbourne is a much more welcoming city than Sydney.

As a Queenslander I find Melbourne to be a much better city to visit than Sydney.

Yes Sydney is flashy and blessed with beautiful natural features but it feels soulless. Melbourne, on the other hand, has a great spirit, terrific pub scene, good food and of course the footy.

I can’t wait to get down there again for another visit.
Mark Bucknall, Shorncliffe, Qld

Smugness is hard to bear
Hear, hear, Michelle Griffin (‘‘I’m a little bitter about Queensland’’, Comment, 31/20), enduring the daily smug remarks from the Queensland Premier or her even more smug deputy have been hard to bear.

Good for you for being almost COVID-19 free in Queensland, but for those of us locked up in Victoria in an attempt to prevent more illness and loss of life, your constant reminders of how good you are has left me with a deep dislike of all things Queensland.
Ros Shennan, Mentone

Putting dollars first
So, having endured months of Scott Morrison berating Dan Andrews to ‘‘open up’’, we now have Christian Porter urging companies to get their staff back ‘‘as quickly as possible’’. This means crowding into public transport, lifts and offices not designed for isolation.

Again the federal Liberal politicians are only concerned about the almighty dollar, and not about people’s health or welfare.
David Kitchen, Violet Town

Leaving us behind
The royal commission has issued a stark evaluation of climate change, warning of more disasters as climate change worsens (‘‘Warning on climate as bushfires threat rises’’, The Age, 31/10).

A recent survey by the progressive think tank, the Australian Institute, found that 83 per cent of Australians want to see the end of coal-fired power stations and 82 per cent thought the incidence of bushfires due to climate change will increase. The clear message was more renewables and less fossil fuels.

The political tide overseas is overwhelmingly that rapid action is needed to avert catastrophic climate change – shamefully a perspective (still) not shared by the Morrison government. The 2020 budget has allocated $53 million to support the gas industry, in effect locking in high emissions for decades.

The world is moving on without us.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Wrong place, wrong time
The best magicians are those who have mastered the art of misdirection. It’s a skill, for want of a better expression, also used deftly by politicians. There is no better recent example than Scott Morrison’s attack on Christine Holgate.

In the overall scheme of things the gifting of watches to senior staff is not a great look but it’s hardly a showstopper … unless of course you need something new to create that misdirection. And now that Victoria has its COVID-19 outbreak under control, the opportunity to ‘‘bash’’ a Labor premier has largely disappeared.

Holgate seems just to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and Morrison has taken full advantage of that to misdirect people from an ever growing list of his government’s challenges and policy shortcoming that ought to be of great concern to us all.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

Statement beggars belief
In light of recent revelations regarding the toxic culture and bullying in Ambulance Victoria, it beggars belief that the chief executive Tony Walker, a career ambulance officer himself, is unaware of what is occurring in his own organisation (‘‘Ambulance chief vows to weed out the bullies’’, The Sunday Age, 01/11).
Lorna Kennedy, Albert Park

They deserve more
Ken Lay reacts in pious horror to the extensive allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, etc. How could I have missed it? What could I have done better?

By saying that the perpetrators will be hunted out and found, Ambulance Victoria refuses to acknowledge that this behaviour is systemic, not a few bad apples.

By doing so, all that happens is a few get weeded out and the culture remains. If this is the best Ken Lay can do, he should first sack senior management and then resign. Women in the workforce don’t want soft voices and embarrassed smiles, Ken. They deserve a change agent.
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton

Make it compulsory
In regard to recent letters in The Age about the high incidence of masked chins, I was surprised on Saturday to be told by Yarra Trams staff that they can’t ask passengers to wear their masks or wear them properly. Apparently only police can do that – or other passengers.

So I politely asked a group of young passengers, all with masks around their necks, if they would be kind enough to wear them and they complied.

It does seem, however, that it would be useful to make correct mask wear on public transport compulsory as an aide back to more normal times safely.
Alison Fraser, Ascot Vale

When science prevails
Look at the terrific job our scientists have done in developing and implementing scientific modelling for Victoria to come out of lockdown.

They were close to perfect in an imperfect world with their modelling and scheduling for the easing of restrictions. Once the science has cleared a way forward, the community generally finds a way to adapt. Now if we can only get governments to take the same approach to climate change.
Victoria Blakston, Surrey Hills

A ridiculous folly
In 2016 then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced 12 submarines would be built over a 20-year period at a total cost of $50 billion.

Now it seems the cost has increased to $90 billion for the build alone and the time frame has blown out to 34 years. Surely cost and time blowouts on this scale warrant a reassessment of this ridiculous folly?

When the US Navy wants a new submarine it typically costs $4 billion per boat, so why are ours costing $7.5 billion each? The US and Britain are spending big on large unmanned submarines/marine drones instead at a cost of about $10 million each.

Submarines are dependent on complex technology. If it takes 34years to build all of them the technology will be redundant long before all the boats come into service (34 years ago there was no internet and a ‘‘mobile’’ phone was the size and weight of a brick).
Surely there are far better ways to invest all this taxpayer money.
Phil Bodel, Ocean Grove

No right to take credit
In what appears to be the quintessential definition of gall, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is trumpeting that ‘‘we’re on track to reach the Prime Minister’s goal’’ of having open internal borders in the country before Christmas as if to claim some sort of credit for the fact.

This is following months of outright criticism and white-anting of particular premiers by Mr Hunt, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg over the very actions that will allow those open borders.
Astounding.
Ian Millar, Mordialloc

AND ANOTHER THING

The environment
It’s just not right to label the effects of global warming ‘‘natural disasters’’, when we contribute so much more to them.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

Credit:

Publicly owned corporations are obliged by their shareholders to make the best profit they can and that includes the use of solar power when that is the cheapest source.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Politics
If the answer is Barnaby Joyce, Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan, Michael McCormack and David Littleproud, what is the question?
Russell Brown, Great Western

Cutting funding to the Auditor-General is like having the umps sacked at three-quarter-time. Your call, Josh.
John Miller, Toorak

Life in lockdown
The Chief Health Officer has told us ‘‘we deserve to enjoy ourselves’’, but as an older Melburnian, I feel like a cat that was taken to the vet in a cat carrier and, on returning home, is reluctant to get out of the carrier.
Anne Chomiak, Mill Park

I’m sick of people practising social distancing. It’s time to start doing it.
Peter Elliot, Hawthorn

Those who have been so critical of Dan Andrews throughout the COVID-19 second wave, might care to reflect on what Boris Johnson has been forced to do in the UK.
Neil McDonald, Berwick

We have the power
The greatest enemy of humanity is not COVID-19, but a virus of rampant 19th-century power by 21st-century forces: of guns, war, debt, plunder and poverty, and there is a vaccine – us.
Norman Broomhall, Port Macquarie, NSW

Furthermore
As James Bond, Sean Connery was untouchable.
John Rawson, Mernda

Finally
A big thank you to Matt Golding for keeping our morale up throughout this pandemic with his highly empathetic, witty cartoons.
Peter Gerrand, West Melbourne

Note from the Editor

The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.

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