Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
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Seeking an electable, climate-action party
With the re-election of Barnaby Joyce as leader of the Nationals, it is imperative for the good of Australia and the world that we create and elect a climate-change activist party at our next election. (Unfortunately, while I wholeheartedly support the Greens, they appear to be carrying too much baggage to get the necessary support.) Neither of the major alternatives are capable of taking the necessary action because of their messy, recalcitrant rumps.
We urgently need a party with enough seats to hold the balance of power in either, or both, houses and which has the aim and mandate to foster climate change action. It will need to be bloody-minded and use whatever tactics that may be required, including rejecting government bills and even supply, if the government is not acting fast enough on positive measures. There is no time left for the current troglodyte-ish stupidity to continue.
Rod Cripps, Parkdale
We need strong action, now, to save our reef
Unfortunately the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is right: the Great Barrier Reef is in danger. In the recently released David Attenborough documentary, Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, leading coral reef scientist Professor Terry Hughes breaks down in tears about the extent of destruction of the coral reefs.
Thank you, Mike Foley (The Age, 22/6), for explaining that no amount of government funding for science to assist reef recovery can overcome the devastation that climate change is causing to these unique and delicate coral reef ecosystems. Immediate action is needed. The question is whether Australia is capable of such action.
Amy Hiller, Kew
How can you not know of the damage to the reef?
I listened as federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley stated that the plan by UNESCO to list the Great Barrier Reef as endangered was a politically influenced decision. She also claimed that it came as a surprise. As the minister responsible for its care, has she ever looked closely at the reef? I suppose she has not heard of QAnon either.
Patricia O’Brien, Ventnor
We must heed UNESCO’s warning and act
Can anyone get it across to Sussan Ley that it is not just a tacky, little fish pond in some Australian backyard. It is the Great Barrier Reef and its survival is of world importance. The basic truth is that we are killing it and UNESCO is telling us to get our act together. And so it should. Shame on us.
John McCallum, St Helens, Tas
A way to help our farmers and the environment
Barnaby Joyce, one way to bring cash back into the bush via farmers’ pockets would be to introduce a carbon trading scheme. Farmers could dedicate sections of their land to growing carbon-storing trees. They would get their carbon credits every year, hail, rain or drought, which they could sell for cash or offset against other farming activities. The rest of the land and the livestock thereon would benefit from the shelter belts thus provided. Surely this is a win-win situation and would allow Australia to hold its head up again in international circles.
John Mosig, Kew
Seeing renewable energy as an opportunity
The Environment Minister has kyboshed a massive, $48billion renewable energy hub in WA’s Pilbara region because it may affect the local environment. Fair enough, but the project was originally a fly-in, fly-out wind and solar based hub with relatively low impact. The feds, however, insisted the developers include hydrogen production and shipping, with a permanent town.
Again, fair enough, but now this larger project is considered by the government to be unacceptable. It does not make sense until you realise the Coalition sees renewable energy as a threat, not an opportunity. The National Party, in particular, seems hell-bent on preventing nation-building and future-proofing projects like these. Please get out of the way for everybody’s sake.
Barry Mann, Woodend
Where the blame lies
The warming that is harming the Great Barrier Reef comes mainly from global sources, most of which is from six nations which emit 60per cent of annual global atmospheric CO2 – China, the US, India, Russia, Japan and Germany.
However, UNESCO blames the reef’s decline on “insufficient progress” by Australia to protect it from climate change. But the most effective protection for the reef can only come from big reductions by the major emitters. Shifting the blame to Australia, which emits only 1.3per cent of global emissions, defies logic and suggests a political motive.
Thomas Hogg, East Melbourne
Steady erosion of reef
Sussan Ley says she was “blindsided” over the Great Barrier Reef’s status review. Hello, where have she been for the past 30 years? Crown of thorns starfish, agricultural runoff, episodes of catastrophic weather, and various marine diseases associated with oceanic pollution have had a progressive impact, first documented in the 1980s but recognised to have originated over 20 years before.
Perhaps Ms Ley could take advantage of the upcoming reshuffle to seek a less demanding portfolio, such as International Development and the Pacific, which just hands out a bit of money from time to time, or Defence Science that effectively runs itself with unusual efficiency.
James Ogilvie, Kew
How Joyce has changed
In 2019, Barnaby Joyce said he was sick of government being in his life, but now he does not mind subsidising farmers for climate action (The Age, 23/6) that they say they are already committed to.
Chris Boon, Wodonga
Let’s go the whole hog
What a great idea, Barnaby Joyce: pay farmers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. You can also raise cash by taxing coal and gas companies. Call it a carbon tax.
John d’Helin, McCrae
Learning to objectify
Year 10 boys at St Luke’s Grammar School in Sydney were told they had 25 points to allocate on qualities they would look for in a girl. Being good looking and a virgin scored six points, while generosity bottomed out at a measly one point and having a “good pedigree”, like a loveable labrador, scored three.
The perpetuation of the idea that virginity is a highly valued prize which boys should seek out is disgraceful and archaic, but more disturbing is the concept of a ranking system for women. We have seen women march for the right to live free from abuse and harassment, but all the while the next generation of men learn to commodify and objectify women.
We have a serious, systemic problem that will not be fixed purely by generational change, thanks in part to school programs like this. The creators and distributors of this “exercise” owe women, and the boys at the school, an apology for letting them down.
Anita Stubbs, Balwyn
The PM”s double standard
No, Scott Morrison, coverage of your “side trip” to St Keverne, 45 minutes south of the G7 summit site in Cornwall, to delve into your family history was not “massively overstated” (The Age, 22/6). Many Australians would give their eye teeth to be in the UK to reunite with our living families. Many of us ache for their presence and to hold our unmet grandchildren.
To do so is really against the odds despite a growing number of us being fully COVID-19 vaccinated. The need to apply for a travel exemption on family/compassionate grounds is fraught. If we are so lucky as to be given the exemption, on our return the need to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine rather than home isolation, which Mr Morrison is now enjoying at The Lodge, is onerous. I am mighty angry and fed up, Prime Minister.
Helen Edwards, Prahran
Please, no excuses…
I am with Geoff O’Brien, polio survivor, who has no time for people who are unwilling to get their COVID-19 jabs (The Age, 22/6). I got polio a year after Mr O’Brien, but fortunately a mild case: I am designed for walking around mountains anti-clockwise.
People who want no risk and absolute certainty before they make a decision are wasting their lives – and risking others’ lives, in this case. Anti-vaxxers? Do not get me started. I will be getting my second AstraZeneca shot in July.
Rob Morgan, Bulleen
…just get vaccinated
Hear, hear Geoff O’Brien. In 1953, I was in hospital under observation with suspected polio. I was fortunate, but my desk mate and friend was not and battled for the rest of her life. Make an appointment to be vaccinated today for all our sakes.
Marjorie Morkham, Apollo Bay
The right to their freedom
I write as a GP who visits patients in aged care and as a daughter who has a mother in a facility. With the vast majority of residents being now immunised against COVID-19 and influenza, it seems unnecessary to lock down this vulnerable group. The elderly continue to be deprived of the company of friends and family and the facilities continue with the wearing of masks and even face shields. What are the residents being protected from?
Many elderly have poor hearing and struggle to understand when a speaker wears a mask. Facial expression is also an important part of communication. Physical touch is vital for showing love and reassurance, especially when someone may be non-verbal.
Our elderly were let down last year and suffered the greatest mortality of any group. The staff in the homes had a terrible time coping with the illness and death of clients and fear of infection by COVID-19 for themselves. Now that they have been immunised they deserve some freedom, as do the staff.
Heidi Andersen-Dalheim, Templestowe
The freedom to travel
Our lives are difficult enough at present, but the opening and closing of state borders is making everything more complicated. Could the federal government consider allowing fully vaccinated residents to travel interstate without the restrictions of quarantine? This allowance could encourage more people to get out and get vaccinated.
Carole Nicholls, Surrey Hills
Living with consequences
If you choose not to be vaccinated against a deadly disease, surely it is correct that this has consequences to limit the harm you could do to other members of society. There is coercion in many areas of society, laws against violence, laws against speeding, laws about wearing a seatbelt, etc, but these laws are what enable us to live together in relative harmony, instead of the chaos of anarchy. You have the right to choose sometimes, but every choice you make in life has consequences.
Wendy Forsey, Seaholme
Limits on our rights
Jeremy Browne (Letters, 22/6) has every right to not have COVID-19 vaccinations, just as airlines, restaurants, bars etc have every right to exclude him if he has not. If people catch a highly contagious, deadly disease, their libertarian rights do not guarantee them the freedom to spread it throughout the populace.
Geoff Parkes, Warranwood
Playing with fire?
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will not lock down the many Sydney suburbs now identified with a growing number of COVID-19 cases but instead asks residents not to leave Greater Sydney. To me that sounds like she is playing a risky political game, hanging on to her reputation as being lenient on lockdowns and hoping it turns out well. That is the opposite of the precautionary principle. The tactic worked previously but that was before the Delta variant.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo
School’s out, petrol is up
How do you know the school holidays are coming? It is easy: petrol prices across Melbourne have just jumped from 132.9 to 175.9 per litre. A case of price gouging as usual. Petrol companies are a rip-off.
Ian Cayzer, Frankston
Modern day martyr/saints
Susan Connelly’s commentary (Opinion, 21/6) is a deep and chilling analysis of the circumstances surrounding the sentencing of Witness K and the impending trial of his courageous lawyer, Bernard Collaery. She references Jesus Christ as the epitome of innocent scapegoats. World Press Freedom Day on May 3 had the theme: Information as a Public Good.
In the future, such days could be given some extra punch by the acknowledgment of whistleblower heroes in each country. Some would need anonymity to preclude them being scapegoated by the powers that be. Our whistleblowers are a modern expression of the martyr-saints who followed Jesus’ path.
Vince Corbett, Essendon
High price for expats
I support the case for reconsideration of pension payments to Australian expats who are living in France (The Age, 21/6). I worked for 30years in Australia before moving to work in the UK. I am now retired and live in France. After 13 years of work in the UK, I am receiving a proportional UK pension for life.
This is the type of benefit I would hope to be entitled to from the Australian government, given that I paid taxes to it for 30years and never claimed a cent. It is a poor reflection on the lack of care and respect the government has for its citizens that those who live in certain countries are penalised.
Ruth Bird, Cordes sur Ciel, France
Please, say it’s not true
Claims of staff at Victoria’s prisons using excessive force against prisoners and the strip-searching of a male prisoner taking too long (The Age, 23/6)? Staff smuggling illegal items in and out of jail? They would never do that…would they?
Russell Brims, Bentleigh East
Our fashionable heroes
SES workers clearing debris in the Dandenongs wear high vis gear while ADF personnel are in camouflage. Is it all about fashion?
Greg Pyers, Daylesford
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Barnaby’s back. Are we about to see the Nationals’ tail start wagging the Liberal dog?
Ian Maddison, Parkdale
Joyce supports paying farmers to cut emissions, which effectively puts a cost on carbon but is conveniently paid by taxpayers.
Peter Baddeley, Portland
Let’s hope the release of Julian Assange will remain high on Barnaby’s to do list.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield
Albanese seems to enjoy Joyce’s antics in Parliament.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell
Some will be rejoicing that Mac has been knifed.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne
Barnaby’s self-centred behaviour reminds me of the old saying, “a leopard never changes its spots”.
Marlene Burchill, North Carlton
With Joyce leading this Flintstone party, I expect to see bags of coal on the floor of Parliament. How far back in time have we gone?
Wies Danielewski, Inverloch
As we recycle leaders, how about giving Kevin Rudd another go?
Val Pollard, Woodend
Why don’t the Liberals and Nationals go it alone? Let’s see how they get on then.
Shane Gunn, Heathcote Junction
If the government didn’t notice the reef was in danger, its eyes were closed. The effects of accelerating climate change are clear.
Mary Macmillan, Brunswick East
Shame on Australian airlines for price gouging during a pandemic.
Margaret Sullivan, Caulfield North
Given how Berejiklian was so supercilious about Melbourne’s 2020 outbreak, there might be a feeling of schadenfreude now.
Mary Walker, Richmond
Denying the over-60s access to the Pfizer vaccine is clear age discrimination and a disgrace.
David Hamilton, Hampton
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