Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

CLIMATE CHANGE

Blaming leaders lets our materialism off the hook
Sean Kelly is not alone in being “sick to death” of the politics of climate change (“PM’s policy is smoke and mirrors”, Comment, 1/11).

Late last century, the issue was novel and it was easy to become engaged with debates about causes and solutions. Back then, it was interesting, but now it is tedious.

The outcomes of Kyoto, Copenhagen and Paris fell far short of what was required, and we are already being primed to not expect too much from Glasgow.

It is easy to blame national leaders for the lack of progress, but at some point, we must accept that not enough of the world’s population are willing to make the lifestyle changes required to decarbonise the world. Don’t blame Scott Morrison for Australia’s carbon emissions. It is the materialistic aspirations of generations of Australians that have generated them.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

You don’t quit smoking by making a better cigarette
Scott Morrison thinking that we can address climate change solely through technology is akin to helping smokers quit by making better cigarettes. Ultimately, we need to stop smoking.

As for his “Australian way” slogan – this meant something when we punched above our weight and led where others lagged (e.g. mandating seat belts, plain cigarette packaging).

Now the “Australian” way represents lies and obfuscation, breaking trust with allies, riding on the coat-tails of others, putting short-term political cycles above the interests of our children and grandchildren. I am so ashamed.
Jennie Irving, Camberwell

Change always comes with a cost to the community
The cry from the Liberals is technology not taxes, but from the industrial revolution to the computer era, technological advances have always come with costs to communities and there will be a community cost to positive action on the climate.

Not taking action, however, will come at a much larger cost.
Peter Roche, Carlton

No wonder we are sceptical about this so-called plan
Scott Morrison’s recent words of encouragement to farmers to join his net zero plan for 2050 raise more questions than answers: “Our plan doesn’t force you to do anything more than what you are already doing … We trust you as being the best stewards of your land.”

These words have an eerie resonance with Tony Abbott’s 2017 speech to the UK climate denier think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation: “Only societies that have forgotten the scriptures about man being charged with subduing the Earth and all its creatures could have made such a religion out of climate change.” God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the earth.

No wonder neither of them has their heart in addressing the climate issue. The Prime Minister’s plan requires drawdown of carbon into the soil, so big changes must be expected in the way the land is used – surely? But, no, you’re doing just fine. No wonder we are sceptical about this so-called plan.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

So much to do, so little time
It was a joy being out and about unmasked in a burst of fine weather this weekend. The sense of release was palpable. Shops and cafes were doing a roaring trade, but they were all desperate for staff.

Despite this exuberance, there was a drumbeat of dread in the background. Australia’s disgraceful efforts at promoting the use of gas and coal in a world that desperately needs to withdraw rapidly from fossil fuels are a source of national shame. Our insultingly vapid climate “plan” should be met with the contempt it deserves at COP26.

At this point, it is clear that Australia will need a change of government if it is to hold its head up in the world ever again. So much to do, so little time.
Peter Barry, Marysville

THE FORUM

A dangerous idea
Peter Hartcher reports that the Nationals have extracted nine key promises from Prime Minister Scott Morrison for their consent to net zero emissions by 2050 (“The PM’s only burning ambition”, Comment, 30/10).

The fifth on his list is all the more dangerous for seeming innocuous. It’s a review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity (EPBC) Act by the Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, and the Minister for Resources and Water, Keith Pitt.

Approving this exercise is completely at odds with the thorough review of the act conducted by the government’s own appointee, Professor Graeme Samuel, in 2019-20 and finally released by Ms Ley in February this year.

Even before his interim report was published in July 2020, Ms Ley had drafted legislation intended to neutralise Mr Samuel’s potentially challenging recommendations.

Putting her in charge of another review, along with a fierce advocate for fossil fuels in the person of Mr Pitt, is tantamount to putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse. Australia’s environmental treasures and rich biodiversity do not deserve to be so endangered.
Tom Knowles, Parkville

An eye-opener
Over several decades I have happily cooked on a gas stove. Recently, I acquired an air purifier with an air monitoring feature and app.

What have I discovered? Every time, without fail, that I turn on my stove to cook, or my recently serviced gas-ducted heating to heat my home, the indoor air quality dives. Volatile organic compound levels go from excellent to good, or moderate.

How many years did I unwittingly contribute to my children’s asthma symptoms using this dirty fuel? What are my children breathing? Gas is not a climate change solution.
Anita White, Kew

A recipe for a busy month
The Australian government has a plan as basic as any student living the high life at uni.

It is simple. Make the most of what you have here and now. Exams are a long way away. Just cram the night before and she’ll be right. December 2049 may be a frenetic month.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Hardly a ‘Howard’ moment
Liberal MP Katie Allen believes the “Australian way” pivot to net zero equates to John Howard’s gun laws moment (“The PM’s only burning ambition”, Comment, 30/10).

After the Port Arthur massacre, John Howard decisively introduced new gun laws despite potential electoral and personal cost. Remember the bulletproof vest? The safety of Australians was the motivation.

The Coalition has taken 10 years of tortured political gamesmanship and misrepresentation of reality to produce a roundly and deeply criticised vacuous plan to address an existential planetary crisis. The price tag (tax) will be many billions of dollars.

Supported by then National Party leader Tim Fischer, John Howard’s action was forward thinking, principled policy prosecuted with conviction. Scott Morrison’s is not.

The time scale, the underlying principles and policy developments of the two moments carry few commonalities. John Howard’s was a dramatic, compelling moment of political leadership, a highlight of his prime ministership. Scott Morrison’s laborious, cynical pivot has been driven by the harsh reality of changing attitudes in the electorate over the last decade, an epoch that history will probably regard as one of the low points in Australian politics.
Lloyd Shield, Moonee Ponds

Let’s have a trial run
The Pharmacy Guild rejects the Australian Medical Association’s calls for enabling competition, and therefore lowering prices of medicine to consumers. Its justification is consumers valued having a relationship with local pharmacists (“Push to shake up pharmacy ‘closed shop’”, The Age, 1/11).

Let’s have a trial run and see to what extent consumers are willing to pay more for their medicines at pharmacies than at GPs and retailers as proposed. Let the market decide. Isn’t that what our free-market economy is based on?
David Gentle, Ivanhoe East

The AMA needs to back up
The Australian Medical Association and GPs need to back up from any thoughts of extending their already formidable influence and power in society. They are not god-like creatures who can extend their knowledge to all aspects of healthcare.

I have a chronic condition and on more than one occasion, a pharmacist has questioned and rectified a GP prescription error that potentially could have had catastrophic results for my health. Medications are not lollies or muesli bars that are dispensed without a thought about the consequences. They have side effects and dosage requirements, something a vending machine cannot offer.

Pharmacists offer the final step in ensuring consumer safety and a good one has time to explain the concerns, indications and contraindications of medicines, free of charge and mostly without the time constraints a GP has.

We need a more holistic approach to healthcare, with GPs, pharmacists and other allied health professionals working together within their scope for the best possible patient outcomes in the community, not one that could potentially cause harm.
Helen Ellendale, Flemington

Embarrassed yet again
Scott Morrison and the Coalition have long been rewarded by the Australian electorate for clever use of language and obfuscation.

He tried the same shifty language with world leaders and has been called out for it – gently by US President Joe Biden, who believed France was better informed, and very bluntly by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said that Mr Morrison lied to him.

Embarrassed yet again by the man who is our Prime Minister.
Wendy Tanner, Footscray

This was much worse
Barnaby Joyce, we didn’t damage the Eiffel Tower, what we did is lie to a trusted friend.
A damaged tower could be fixed. I’m not sure this can.
Murray Stapleton, Darraweit Guim

First, we must ask this …
Your correspondent laments that bipartisanship is not generally part of the adversarial Westminster System of parliament (“Communication, honesty, transparency and help”, Letters, 30/10).

But this is not set in concrete – during both world wars, Britain operated with a consensus government, and locally, Julia Gillard showed how productive a government could be negotiating with the crossbench.

But let’s look at the sort of Australia a century of the Westminster System has given us. Inequality is greater than ever. The concept of a “fair” country is just spin when you consider the disgraceful treatment of our First Nations people, gender inequality, the cruelty towards some asylum seekers, the lengths those with privilege go to in order to preserve it, the years of lies that have been used to reject the science of global warming and emissions reduction, the corruption, incompetence and appalling behaviour of some members of Parliament, rising numbers of homeless people … the list goes on.

There have been calls for a revision of our constitution to make it more relevant for the 21st century. We should first ask ourselves what sort of country we would like Australia to be.
Chris Pearson, Kyneton

An untapped resource
I have been told by several solar panel companies that my house is unsuitable for installation.

A snapshot of my local area from Google Earth shows that there are untold acres of empty roof space on schools, supermarkets, shops and other business sites that would be ideal for large-scale solar systems.
Domestic housing has led the way in capturing solar energy, but we have barely tapped its full potential in urban areas.

I would be happy to invest long term in a state or local council-sponsored solar fund that supported these vast sites to install solar panels with back-up battery storage (and if there were some way that the latter could be made a community facility I would be even happier).
Peter McCarthy, Mentone

This is not our fight
I couldn’t agree less with your correspondent’s view of Eric Abetz’s thoughts on Taiwan (“He’s right about this”, Letters, 1/11). Fifty years of Taiwan diplomacy has been a clever and delicate holding pattern involving all sides letting sleeping dogs lie and avoiding inflammatory rhetoric.

Mr Abetz has lost his prime position on the Liberal Senate voting ticket and is flailing for relevance and attention. His intemperate comments put his personal interests ahead of our national interest. He at once displays his ignorance of diplomacy, unconcern for our soldiers and his unsuitability for high office.

I also care about the fate of Taiwan. I don’t wish to see many Taiwanese die in an unnecessary war driven by foreign ideologues.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Appallingly unfair
Thank goodness for Ross Gittins (“Beware pedlars of supply solutions to home affordability”, Business, 1/11) for stating the obvious that house prices skyrocketing is a direct result of negative gearing, that appallingly unfair advantage given to those who can afford to invest against those who are just trying to own their own home.

Politicians take note, a happy, prosperous country has a high rate of home ownership.
Suzanne Anderson, South Melbourne

A timely reminder
Tim Smith’s drink driving escapade reminds us all not to let anyone leave our home, or other venue, in that condition.

That means stopping service of alcohol or taking the keys to the car. Not easy, but essential for the safety of the driver and innocent bystanders.
Catherine Healy, Brighton

A real defining image
Actually, Scott Morrison’s Australian flag lapel pin would not have served to remind Joe Biden where our Prime Minister comes from (“Patriotism’s pitfalls”, Letters, 1/11).

Its Union Jack would suggest the United Kingdom, and the Southern Cross is on several flags, including New Zealand’s.

But a kangaroo, uniquely Australian, would have been instantly recognisable. It’s time to put it on our flag.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

AND ANOTHER THING

Climate change
Can we rethink the notion that it was a “good idea” for Scott Morrison to go to Glasgow.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South

Credit:

Presumably, the Coalition won’t expect Labor to outline the cost of its net zero plan beyond 2030, either.
Geoff Feren, St Kilda East

Obviously when Scott Morrison speaks of the “Australian way” in relation to climate change action, what he means is “she’ll be right”.
Monty Arnhold, Port Melbourne

Yes Prime Minister, new technology will emerge to cut emissions to net zero by 2050 at no cost to anybody and no loss of jobs, and there are fairies at the bottom of the garden.
Dan Drummond, Leongatha

Politics
It appears the former federal attorney-general and the former state shadow attorney-general both believe that what is not acceptable for a ministerial job is quite OK for a backbencher.
Alan West, Research

Voter fraud is rare, but voted fraud is rife.
Kishor Dabke, Mount Waverley

Why didn’t Keith Pitt’s parents call him Colin? Col Pitt is much more appropriate.
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

Really, Scott Morrison, does aligning yourself with Xi Jinping, not raise any red flags with you, or are you totally satisfied with that?
David Kitchen, Violet Town

Voter ID
There have been numerous times when I have had to produce proof of identity, but apparently voting has not been considered an important enough event to require proof that you are who you say you are.
Beverley Martin, Langwarrin

Furthermore
Now that the great Australian tradition of Halloween is over, I can’t wait to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Ed Veber, Malvern East

Finally
Can someone tell Barnaby Joyce that we did steal an island … he’s standing on it.
Julie Carrick, Leopold

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