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Coalition’s missed chance for policy shift on climate
Barnaby Joyce is a dilemma for Liberals in the Canberra bubble, but for Victorians in the real world he is an existential economic threat. Senior Victorian Liberal Josh Frydenberg became Minister for Environment and Energy in 2016 and many people were hopeful the federal government had moved beyond ideologically driven separation of those two important portfolios. When Frydenberg became Treasurer in 2018, hope increased, that managing climate change, energy and the environment would be seen as fundamentally an economic issue. But hope has now been dashed.
Joyce is calling for new coal-fired power stations in a small number of regions where mining jobs continue to diminish amid pipe dreams of carbon capture. He ignores benefits that farmers and regional towns recognise in rapidly engaging in 21st century employment such as solar, wind and green hydrogen.
Joyce has miffed the Victorian and Western Australian Nats and needs to become both a better and smarter person or he will sink the Coalition’s ability to be a responsible and successful government.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills
Mining-first approach puts farmers’ future at risk
The Age’s editorial (“Joyce needs to put national interest first”, 22/6) stated that Barnaby Joyce “needs to ensure that while … desires of regional Australia should be high on his agenda, the national interest comes first”. This highlights the problem with the National Party in general and with Barnaby Joyce in particular. The Nationals do not effectively represent regional Australia, while they are still pursuing their carbon-emitting agenda.
We are now at a time where many countries are likely to refuse to buy Australian agricultural products until we have an effective zero emissions target and policies to lead us there. When will the Nationals wake up to the fact that agriculture employs significantly more people than mining – yet the Nationals are willing to risk the key components of farming (land, water and air quality) to further promote fossil fuel mining. Where is the regional representation in this?
Deborah O’Connor, Berrys Creek
‘Flat earthers’ of our generation
When will it finally sink in for the likes of Barnaby Joyce? Jobs are great but there won’t be any on a dead or dying planet so let’s move to a zero emissions future to secure all our jobs. Those not moving in this direction will become the “flat earthers” of our generation, stubbornly hanging on to their views no matter how obviously scientifically inaccurate they are.
Dr Kim Alexander, Richmond
Renewed hope for push to secure Assange’s release
Welcome back Mr Deputy Prime Minister. Before Barnaby Joyce was cancelled by the Wokes, he, Andrew Wilkie and the United Nations were actively involved in the fight to free Julian Assange and allow him to return home.
Let’s hope that Mr Joyce will succeed in his quest before the next election.
Brian Sanaghan, West Preston
The Nats no longer represent rural interests
It seems clear that the resurrection of Barnaby Joyce was in large part driven by a desire by the National Party to stiffen resistance to the LNP taking effective and timely action on climate change and global warming. It is now almost 10 years since the British Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research found in December 2011 that Australia’s agricultural land would be more severely impacted by global heating than that of almost all the 24 countries considered (only Spain would be worse off).
Without action, a whopping 97 per cent of Australia’s cropping land would face degradation. How long will it take for rural Australians to wake up to the fact that the so-called National Party no longer represent their interests? The Nats have morphed into the Coal and Gas Party.
Ian Bayly, Upwey
Horticulturist Mary Baldwin (Letters, 22/6) asks for surveys and evidence about the exploitation of migrant workers in the farms and orchards of Australia. She may want to start with the 2016 Senate inquiry on the exploitation of Working Holiday Makers and temporary work visa holders, appropriately titled A National Disgrace.
The issue is not a few “bad apple” employers, but a structural imbalance facing temporary migrant workers. They face the same challenges as Australian workers – around pay, conditions, health and safety in the workplace – but without the rights of citizens, and often with less understanding of local labour laws, tax and super systems.
Nic Maclellan, Brunswick
Your correspondent wonders what “surveys” provide evidence of exploited agricultural workers (Letters, 22/6). May I draw her attention to a survey conducted by the Migrant Resource Centre in Victoria and Unions NSW, reported on last week.
Among 1300 survey participants, 64 per cent reported being paid less than $16 an hour – well below the minimum wage. The vast majority of those surveyed were on temporary visas, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and unable to secure the pay rates to which they are entitled. There may well be some agricultural employers that pay their workers properly, but clearly very many do not.
David Francis, Ivanhoe
Restrict data access
According to Chief Commissioner Shane Patton (“Victoria Police tried to access check-in data”, The Age, 22/6) “… police had made three informal requests for names and phone numbers that Victorians volunteered to venues as a COVID-19 contact-tracing tool”. Australians took their civic responsibility seriously and “volunteered”, now mandatory, contact information for health purposes not so the venue, police or any other private or government entity could mine that information for any purpose other than COVID-19 contact tracing. This is another creeping, invisible, unlegislated invasion of privacy. I would never have believed that in Australia we would have a secret charge, prosecution and imprisonment, secret prosecution of a whistleblower and whistleblower’s lawyer and raids on and threats to prosecute journalists. And yet we do. This has to stop. Victoria should legislate to restrict access now.
Wendy Tanner, Footscray
Everyone has rights
Jeremy Browne (Letters, 22/6) confuses civil liberties with rights, and overlooks the issue of obligations in respect of COVID-19 vaccination. Just as he has the right to remain unvaccinated, others have the right to act to protect their own health and safety and that of their workers, customers and citizens. Thus, for years many aged care homes have required staff to have their annual flu shot in order to protect their elderly, at-risk clients.
Airlines requiring staff and customers to be vaccinated is both their right and their legal obligation. And that’s not new. I still have my Smallpox International Certificate of Vaccination that was required for travel to and from Asia and Africa in the 1970s. If governments choose to limit the movement of unvaccinated people, to mitigate the risk to the health and safety of their populations, that is not only their right, but their moral obligation.
Yes, individuals have the right to choose not to be vaccinated. At the same time organisations, companies and governments have the right to require vaccination where it reduces the risk to those using their services, visiting their workplaces and those in their care.
Graeme Russell, Clifton Hill
Choices are clear
Jeremy Browne argues that proposed restrictions for non-vaccinated people is an “affront to their civil liberties” and they are being “forced” to be injected. Perhaps there will be a No Jab, No Fly rule and other restrictions but vaccination is not compulsory and no one is “forced” to have the jabs. Simply, you can choose not to be vaccinated but there may be clearly stated consequences for not doing so.
This is not new; for instance, if you travel to any one of several South American countries it has long been mandatory to be vaccinated for yellow fever. The choices are clear; civil liberties are unaffected.
Heather Barker, Albert Park
Missing the point
A draft UNESCO recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” is not surprising but the Environment Minister Sussan Ley misses the point in her extensive defence of what the government is spending and doing. Climate change is the problem. It’s like carefully tuning your violin before playing on the Titanic, it’s not going to make a difference in the long run.
Climate change must be battled now not, maybe, by 2050.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill
It appears that the great Monty Python team has entered into the Tokyo Olympics saga. The vision of 10,000 spectators wearing masks and not being able to yell and scream their support has John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin written all over it.
Rob Park, Surrey Hills
Is the “political courage” Kevin Rudd is demanding of Morrison the same as the courage he showed in dumping the ETS that was supposed to deal with “the greatest moral challenge of our time”?
Joan Kerr, Geelong
Giving refugees a face
Kevin Rudd (“Biloela family victims of PM’s fear”, The Age, 22/6), rightly identifies the politicisation of empathy underpinning the federal Coalition’s stance on refugees. The Murugappan Tamil family have been the Morrison government’s worst nightmare. For once in Australia, people fleeing a repressive nation, and prima facie satisfying the UN Refugee Convention criterion of having “a genuine fear of persecution”, have had their narrative publicly acknowledged. We know their names and the affection felt for them by our fellow Australians in a small and caring Queensland rural town. We know of their community contributions. We care especially about the futures of Tharnicaa and her sister, Kopika.
Crucially, they are no longer demonised members of the undifferentiated offshore mass of so-called “illegal maritime arrivals” long prized for political purposes by Coalition politicians. They have effectively exposed the moral bankruptcy of the stop the boats obsession.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza
I’m part of a group of six booked on a holiday for two weeks in the Kimberley region. Excited?
Yes … well, I was. You see, I’m from Melbourne and despite community COVID-19 transmission now zero, and other states and territories and countries opening their borders to all Victorians, Western Australia is still saying a firm “no” to us and our tourist dollars. I’m imagining there will be a sense of frustration among the several tour companies and accommodation establishments when we cancel our trip. We would happily have a COVID-19 test on our departure from Melbourne to prove our good health. We are all vaccinated. What more will it take?
Sadly we will cancel Kimberley and spend our time and money in New Zealand.
Piri Davidson, St Kilda West
Surely the fact that Victorians can travel more freely to another country (New Zealand to open to Victoria from today) than states and territories within our own national borders is a sign that something is seriously wrong with our collective approach. Other jurisdictions in Australia must now show not only do they trust that Victoria has once again controlled the situation, but that they trust their own systems and open their borders to residents of this undeservedly long-suffering state.
James O’Keefe, East Melbourne
Who are we protecting?
With the vast majority of aged care residents being now immunised against COVID-19 and influenza, it seems unnecessary to continue 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. I speak as a GP who visits patients in aged care and as a daughter who has a mother in a facility.
Dr Heidi Andersen-Dalheim, Templestowe
Equity in education
A small step towards educational equity: to justify their public funding, instead of the existing expectation, private schools should be required to accommodate students expelled from government schools.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
What a disappointing clue and answer in yesterday’s quick crossword in The Age by DH (3 across – clue: unwanted arrivals by sea; answer: boat people), especially as the nation’s collective heart breaks over the plight of the Biloela family. Words matter and this family and all others who arrive here by sea are most certainly not unwanted.
Andrew Bartlett, Coburg
AND ANOTHER THING …
Barnaby Joyce and The Nationals can now legitimately claim environmental credentials. They support recycling.
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava
Dear Me. Michael McCormack neglected to secure the farm gate and the circling predators took advantage.
Harry Kowalski, Ivanhoe
The Barnaby rejig has only served to emphasise further the gap between the government and the rational, tuned-in approach of Anthony Albanese.
Julie Conquest, Brighton
Barnaby Joyce’s re-election as Nationals leader makes one thing clear. There can never be an effective climate change policy under the Morrison Coalition government.
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood
Oh, the bitter ironies. The Nationals’ resurrected dinosaurs are championing fossil fuels as we stare down an epoch-ending disaster.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha
Like a phoenix, Barnaby Joyce has risen from the ashes, resurrected, reborn and apparently immortal. The mind boggles.
Meg Stevenson, Hobart, Tas.
If the choice was Joyce, what on earth was the question?
April Baragwanath, Geelong
If the change in The Nationals’ leadership get the Tamil family back to Biloela then it will be worth it. Come on Barnaby show some leadership.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor
Barnaby Joyce and Scott Morrison. Poor fellow my country (with apologies to Xavier Herbert).
Angela Edwards, Bendigo
Scott Morrison, when interviewed, made out that his side trip to St Keverne was a last-minute trip and that he just happened to be passing. It now appears it was planned for weeks.
Alan Inchley, Frankston
Latest in carbon capture and storage. Catch burnt toast. Bury burnt toast. Pay no tax. Yay!
Grant Morgan, Hurstbridge
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