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THE WINTER OLYMPICS

This is an opportunity to show what we stand for

Your measured editorial (″⁣China can’t avoid the Olympics torchlight″⁣, 19/4) raised some pivotal points regarding how a nation such as Australia – with its ingrained social values of the dignity of the individual, freedom of speech, the rule of law and open government – might possibly participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

Indeed, there will always be occasions in any nation’s civil history where there is an opportunity to draw a metaphorical line in the sand that demarcates what ideologically separates the cultures of different countries.

For that reason, and as painful as it is for a sports-loving people such as us who have always punched above our weight on the international stage, there is indeed merit in leading, or participating in, an international boycott of these Games.

While every nation has its faults, the sins of some go before them and it will be almost impossible for us to pretend to compete within the bonds of fellowship while concurrently acknowledging China’s appalling and unrepentant disregard of basic human rights.
Peter Waterhouse, Craigieburn

Take every opportunity to come together
The Olympic ideal hovers above petty politics and crass nationalism. We should rejoice at any example of humans striving in the spirit of friendly competition to test the limits of what is physically possible.

f course the host nation uses the opportunity to showcase the best of what it has to offer and to present itself in a positive light. Like most countries, China has much to be proud of while being less than perfect in many areas.

America started this boycott nonsense by getting uppity about the Russian invasion of Afghanistan only to invade the country itself two decades later at great cost to itself and others.

There are many gloomy super-national threats to humanity at the moment, from viral scourges to looming climate disaster. We should take every opportunity we can to put aside blame and point-scoring and come together as a human family.
Peter Barry, Marysville

The responses will be instructive
With the international push to strip the Winter Olympics from China it will be instructive to learn which of our politicians and ore exporters argue for human rights and press freedom and which for self-serving reasons remain silent or reject the call.
John Weston, Melton South

The evidence is starkly compelling
As your editorial makes clear, we should be under no illusions that the Beijing Winter Olympics next February will be hosted by a nation engaged in genocidal acts against its Muslim Uighur population.

In this instance, comparisons between industrial-scale incarceration, forced sterilisation and torture in remote Xinjiang Province and the historical treatment in the 1940s of Jews in Nazi Germany held in Eastern European concentration camps, deep within the Reich, are neither glib nor undocumented.

The closest parallel in Olympics history, the 1936 Berlin Games, saw Adolf Hitler concealing from the world his growing domestic oppression of German Jews, although acts of genocide were still to be unleashed fully. In the case of the Uighurs, by contrast, the print, oral and visual testimony of their existential plight is already starkly compelling.

Nations like Australia cannot in good faith decry other countries’ humans rights records if they are willing to take part in next year’s Winter Olympics.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

THE FORUM

Jobs, growth will follow
As a retired climate scientist, with a Public Service Medal and a share in a Nobel prize, I have long been predicting drastic climate changes in the next few decades if we do not quickly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The consequences will be disastrous for Australia and the world, with rising sea levels, more extreme storms and floods and droughts, etc …

We must act quickly to reduce GHG emissions and plan for disaster relief, and profit from a massive expansion in renewable electricity from solar, wind and tidal power and the generation of hydrogen and ammonia as transportable and exportable fuels. Jobs and growth will come with renewable energy.

It is the urgent future for us all. Renewable energy will provide jobs and growth. Get on with it.
Barrie Pittock, Brighton East

It’s beyond them
Cheryl Durrant, a specialist in intelligence analysis and scenario planning, said Australia was falling behind other nations in integrating climate policy with national security (″⁣Call to tackle warming security risk″⁣, 19/4).

Intelligence analysis seems beyond the Coalition government. Angus Taylor’s scenario planning is to shift responsibility to the ″⁣top three largest emitters″⁣ and continue business as usual.

After empathy training is complete, perhaps government members could attend a lecture by Durrant and Robert Glasser at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s Climate and Security Policy Centre. Glasser is of the view that we are on the brink of an ″⁣overlooked, unprecedented and rapidly advancing regional crisis″⁣.

What Australia’s response will be at the forthcoming climate summit is anybody’s guess.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn

You can’t live in a bubble
Those of us north of 80 aren’t thinking of clots after our first jab, we are just as thankful as we were as kids, lining up for our polio, diphtheria and TB shots.

Life can’t be lived in a bubble, it’s a risk no matter what your age.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale

You can’t learn after the fact
Louis Taffs’ reflection on the part he and his male student peer group played in denigrating young women in his social milieu is searingly honest and makes senior men in leadership roles look like amateurs.

He acknowledges the ″⁣uncomfortable truth″⁣ that misogyny is ″⁣everywhere″⁣ and that young men internalise misogyny’s message (i.e. ″⁣women are not human″⁣) in their early years of socialisation (″⁣Schools breed misogyny but we can break the cycle″⁣, 18/4)

However, as Taffs correctly says, ″⁣High school boys did not invent misogyny″⁣, it’s the dominant paradigm that permeates our political, legal, organisational (across workplaces) educational and cultural institutions.

So if we want to break the cycle of socialised misogyny in our boys/men, we must commence the correct pedagogy of respectful relationships in early infancy and reinforce it throughout a boy’s school years.

Because if our political leaders think that we can teach grown men (think Andrew Laming) ″⁣empathy and kindness″⁣ after the fact of their misogynistic conduct, they’re kidding themselves.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Not perfect, just fed up
No woman has ever claimed to be perfect, however we are fed up.

Fed up at having our statements, views and experiences dismissed or trivialised by some men. Men who, when faced with this uncomfortable truth, attempt to put women back in their place by mocking them, such as in an inappropriate cartoon (Leunig, 19/4).
Samantha Keir, Brighton East

Without this, it’s all spin
Business leaders and politicians desperate for international borders to open and quarantine to be abolished or at home merely jeopardise our domestic economy, health and relative internal freedom.

Until they, including the Prime Minister, are prepared to confront the elephant in the room, vaccine-resistant variants of concern, and focus on acquiring second-generation vaccines to address these, along with immunising children to get us to herd immunity, it is all just dangerous spin.

The current AstraZeneca vaccine, being given to vulnerable elderly, appears to have poor performance against the South African variant. Alan Joyce, what medical school did you attend?
Dr Anita White, Kew

You get what you pay for
Your correspondent (Letters, 19/4) took a step back and correctly links the decline in public services (such as, but not limited to, roadside clearing and maintenance) to the outsourcing of those services. But the problem goes deeper.

People vote for governments that privatise services and cut taxes. However, you always get what you pay for – the cheapest, i.e. worst, service when public services are outsourced, or not enough government employees on the payroll to perform services that we want and need.

You can pay your taxes to employ people to perform these tasks, or you can DIY. But don’t vote for governments that outsource services, or cheerfully pocket your tax cuts, then have the gall to complain about the decline in standards in our public utilities and essential services, not to mention the increasing number of unemployed people who then need income support.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

A way to calm the nervous
At the start of the vaccination program, in a show of vaccine confidence, Scott Morrison and some other high-profile pollies rolled up their sleeves and got the Pfizer jab. This may have since been criticised as queue-jumping, but it actually served a useful purpose from the point of view of engendering trust in the vaccine.

Could we not do a similar thing again, rolling up the sleeves of the next layer of high-profile pollies, celebrities or credible medical personnel to help restore confidence and allay the fears around the AstraZeneca vaccine?

AstraZeneca’s clot risk is very low, but unfortunately enough people are getting sufficiently nervous about receiving it that it may impact the overall effectiveness of the vaccination program unless some positive, strong visual confidence building is undertaken.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

This could be embarrassing
On Thursday this week, at the invitation of US President Joe Biden, 40 world leaders including Australia’s Scott Morrison will participate in a virtual summit on climate change.

Collectively, these nations, invited by President Biden to join with the US to make “more ambitious national pledges above and beyond commitments already made”, account for more than 80 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The summit however promises to be a massive embarrassment for Australia, long regarded globally as a climate pariah. When Donald Trump was in office, Mr Morrison was happy to describe climate summits as “nonsense”. But his climate ally is gone, leaving our Prime Minister exposed.
Our governments are still approving new coal mines and Mr Morrison is locked into a “gas-led” recovery.

Mr Morrison’s intention to reach net zero emissions “as soon as possible and preferably by 2050″ might fool some media here, but not US climate negotiators.

As one of the world’s leading climate scientists, Michael Mann, has said, the US will not be “fooled by the smoke and mirrors the Morrison government appears to be employing to distract from their clear record of inaction on climate”.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

This is not how you do it
Scott Morrison announces late at night on Facebook that he is abandoning vaccination targets. I do not subscribe to Facebook so he might as well have done this on Zimbabwe television.

As Prime Minister if you have a difficult announcement to make then do it in a public forum where it can be discussed. What exactly does our Prime Minister do apart from posing for photo opportunities when he has something positive to spruik?
Brian Glass, Montrose

On the right track
On behalf of the thousands of people who waited around the Sandringham line on Sunday to see the volunteers of Steamrail Victoria in action — magnificent, our deepest thanks.

Talk about bringing people together. Best of all, a mum and dad clearly in love, with the daughter perched high on dad’s shoulders exclaiming ″⁣how does that work″⁣ as locomotive K190 steamed past. I overheard fragments of ″⁣rice … boiling water … steam that makes our pot lid move around″⁣.

A child ″⁣on track″⁣ in so many ways. Well done, Steamrail.
Ronald Elliott, Sandringham

A role reversal is coming
While current drivers of electric vehicles do need to plan their trip, in 10 years’ time it will be reversed.

Petrol and diesel drivers will be the ones suffering range anxiety. They will need to map out the petrol stations, and calculate driving distances. There will be far fewer petrol stations, the opening hours will be shorter and fuel will be more expensive.

It is a question of economics. The income from sales will have fallen, and investment in petrol infrastructure will have dropped away.

It will mirror what is happening with coal-fired power stations. They are becoming too costly to keep running.

It will not be the fault of the electric car owners. Cheap oil is running out, and using renewable electrical energy is our only long-term transport choice.
Tom Danby, Coburg North

Out of the frying pan …
The trans-Tasman Bubble was inflated yesterday on the judgment that flying across the Tasman can now be COVID-safe. And it might be.

But trying to get travel ″⁣back to normal″⁣, for the minority of us who fly, only undermines our commitment to cut emissions and escalates an even greater threat to our wellbeing: global heating. Flying is the most warming single thing you can do, per kilometre, per hour.

Pre-COVID, Australia’s aviation sector annual emissions were more than those of Australia’s dirtiest power station, AGL’s Loy Yang. In flying over The Ditch we’re jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.
Mark Carter, Chewton

AND ANOTHER THING

Australia Post
Parcel post privatisation by stealth (″⁣Outcry as Australia Post says no to perishable food″⁣, 19/4). Another public service gone.
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

Credit:

Politics
Scott Morrison has a new name for a whiteboard. It’s now called national cabinet.
Barry Kranz, Mount Clear

Amanda Vanstone occasionally makes me wonder why she is a member of the Liberal Party.
Alan Duncan, Frankston South

It’s to be hoped that when Scott Morrison talked recently of being on a war footing he didn’t have his position with Australian women in his thinking.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

Social distancing
MCC and AFL, please note that the 75per cent capacity stipulated by the DHHS to be “COVID safe” doesn’t mean shutting off 25 per cent of your ground and cramming us all in the remainder. Sardines can’t be socially distant.
Brian Rooney, Glen Iris

The ABC
Yes, Anne Rogan (And Another Thing, 19/4), the ABC could certainly do better, if it was properly funded.
Graeme Henderson, Bullengarook

Climate summit
Enlightening and explanatory writing by Nick O’Malley (″⁣Hope as old rivals find common ground on emissions″⁣, 19/4). Extensive climate diplomacy and commitment since 2014 between US Democrats and China gives us all hope. Australia’s position? Embarrassing.
Denise Deerson, Bulleen

Furthermore
What would be the motive behind the article by Anson Cameron, (Spectrum, 17/4) other than to deride, humiliate, over-generalise and hurt the group referenced. If these sentiments represent our secular world then let me stick to my Christian values.
Jill Marshall, Kerang

Finally
As a “woke bloke” I take exception to Leunig’s cartoon (19/4). The progressive women I know do not claim to be perfect; they just want to be judged on the same terms as men.
Mike Puleston, Brunswick

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