Accept the inevitable and come up with a plan

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CLIMATE POLICY

Accept the inevitable and come up with a plan
Joel Fitzgibbon asserts that the federal ALP has twice taken climate change policies to elections and they have been rejected by the electorate. The inference is climate change policies do not have community support if they affect employment in carbon-intensive industries. However, according to a survey by the Australia Institute, concern about the impact of climate change is at a record high in Australia, with 83 per cent supporting the closure of coal-fired power stations.

Since the 2019 election, many factors have been cited for Labor’s unexpected loss: franking credits, changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax and Bill Shorten’s unpopularity. It is disingenuous and self-serving of Fitzgibbon to pinpoint the ALP’s election losses to its climate change policies. In reality, the ALP did not even have a clear policy on the future of fossil fuels.

The most honest thing Fitzgibbon could do now is to explain to his constituents that coal is a dying industry. The ALP should support this by providing concrete proposals on how it will assist those affected communities to transition away from coal.
Richard Aspland, Rosanna

They have a lot to answer for
The world, our states, businesses and most citizens have moved on but not Australia’s major political parties, tragically traumatised since Tony Abbott’s pig-headed intransigence (‘‘Paralysed by the ghost of Abbott’’, Comment, The Age, 14/11). As David Ritter highlighted (‘‘PM must follow business on climate’’, Comment, 13/11), for all Scott Morrison’s aggressive spin, Australia has ‘‘no national emissions target. No serious or effective plan for reducing emissions. No strategy for the rapid transition away from coal, oil and fossil gas that is necessary to safeguard our future’’.

Abbott and now Morrison have a massive amount for which to answer.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Labor must not follow the same misguided path
Thank you, Peter Hartcher, for your comprehensive coverage of the sad history of climate change policies and inaction emanating from Canberra for most of this century.

Once again the Morrison government refuses to accept the science and world assessments in the insular, petty interests of its political survival. It would be tragic if the Labor opposition follows the same misguided path due to Joel Fitzgibbon’s storm in a teacup.

Fiddling around with such an urgent issue while the planet burns is irresponsible. If the opposition commits to net-zero emissions by 2050, if not before, together with a clear plan for transitioning to renewables, not only will it win the next election, the economy and employment will benefit and planet Earth will be the big winner.
Ros de Bruin, Balwyn

Backbiting, obfuscation highlight lack of leadership
The backbiting within the Labor Party and the obfuscating of the Coalition in relation to climate change polices is an indicator of the depths to which politics has sunk. Politicians from both parties are hell-bent on vote-catching to preserve their continuity in office. They continually engage in wars of words with each other, creating white noise to deflect away from revealing a policy and strategy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s support for Adani, the biggest coal mine in Australia’s history, indicates he is joined at the hip to the fossil fuel industry. Due to such allegiances, little is changing within his government to really address climate change.

Australia is in dire need of good national political leaders. A strong leader would create a vision and take people along with them to deal with climate change. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews provided such leadership with COVID-19, with his enormous commitment to reducing COVID-19 in the face of considerable opposition. Significantly he took on board expert opinion to an extent that is rarely seen from our often content-free politicians.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene

THE FORUM

Disasters ignore borders
With the release of the latest State of the Climate report from CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology it is disappointing that again the federal government ignores recommendations from royal commissions, in this case to create an aerial fleet to mitigate worsening bushfire seasons arising from climate change (‘‘Canberra shuns call for fire air fleet’’, The Age, 14/11).

Bushfires and natural disasters, like the COVID-19 pandemic, do not respect state borders. With scientific predictions for 2020 having been proved correct and future predictions of severe worsening of bushfire seasons, now is the time for co-ordinated responses to disaster mitigation, such as appropriate fuel reduction, early warning and rapid detection/response to fire outbreaks.

Sadly, our federal government continues to lack leadership on this issue and remains sitting on its hands to our collective detriment.
Tim Davis, Heidelberg

It’s not that simple
Peter Hartcher (‘‘Paralysed by the ghost of Abbott’’, Comment, The Age, 14/11) mentions the admirable mid-century emission targets of China, South Korea, Japan, the UK – and now the US. It might be wise to remember that these concerned countries enjoy massive emission-free power from more than 150 nuclear power stations, something not available to us.

For the first time in 50 years, the Democrats in the US have embraced both existing and advanced nuclear power generation as part of a parcel of zero-carbon technologies.

I’m no advocate for nuclear power, but comparing these countries with ourselves isn’t as simple as it looks.
John Capel, Black Rock

Saved by a surfer
I read with interest your story on surfers saving lives (‘‘When danger comes in waves’’, 14/11).

I was eight in 1989, attending gymnastics camp at Queenscliff. We took the ferry to Sorrento and spent the day at the back beach. I remember trying to swim back to shore, and the shore getting further and further away. I was getting tired when a surfer came and took me by the arm. He asked if I was OK, dragged me sideways out of the rip and took me back to shore. I was too stunned to say anything to him at the time.

I remember he had a short brown ’80s mullet and brown eyes. If he’s out there, I would like to thank him for saving my life.
Katharine Gladman, Geelong

The cost of doing nothing
Our Prime Minister was reported (‘‘Net zero alliance on 2050 goal’’, The Age, 13/11) as in effect saying the government won’t be swayed by Joe Biden’s election in the US into changing the target for CO2 reductions. Only stating (rather vaguely) that we will reach zero emissions ‘‘as quickly as possible’’.

I also heard our PM responding in an interview, saying that unless he could tell us what it would cost, he would not agree to suggested tightening of climate control targets.

Good managers (and PMs) know that they have to consider the benefits and costs of proposals, and also when relevant, any costs of not doing things. Costs of climate change are already heavily impacting Australians, e.g. last summer’s colossal fires, and other unprecedented increases in droughts, storms and floods, health costs of increasing heatwaves.

The biggest potential cost of all would be massive destruction of life (plants and animals, including us?) on Earth. That could be the end of all businesses.

The costs of going slow on climate action must be estimated, using the best science and extrapolation possible. It would be poor management to ignore them.
Kevin Corcoran, Arthurs Seat

Broaden the scope
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is to be congratulated for his appointment of a special investigator to probe possible war crimes by Australian SAS soldiers (‘‘SAS soldiers face fresh war crimes investigation’’, The Age, 13/11).

In saying the matter ‘‘requires us to deal with honest and brutal truths’’ and that Australia has a ‘‘deep respect for justice and the law’’, he describes public expectations about all conduct by Australian agencies acting in our name, not only the SAS.

It is time these same non-negotiable principles were applied to the conduct of Australian intelligence agencies that undertook the illegal bugging of East Timor’s Parliament.
John Wilson, Greenwich, NSW

We shouldn’t have gone
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned Australians to prepare for some brutal truths in the report of war crimes in Afghanistan. Some SAS members reportedly behaved heinously – but which war activities are not heinous?

While John Howard remains in stubborn denial, another brutal truth has been confronting us for years. We should never have been involved in wars in Afghanistan or Iraq. The next time political leaders consider ‘‘seeing the troops off again’’ they might think more carefully about the costs of slavishly following our US mates into misguided or self-interested adventures.

The results have been disastrous for all parties, particularly innocent civilians.
Norman Huon, Port Melbourne

Credit where it’s due
Scott Morrison says that President-elect Joe Biden was very interested in Australia’s coronavirus success.

Biden was probably asking the wrong person, given that Morrison and several of his ministers were so highly critical of the extent and duration of Victoria’s lockdown measures, which played a large part in getting the daily infection rate down from 700-plus to zero.

Perhaps he should have asked Daniel Andrews instead.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

It’s time to leave
At a time when we have a federal government that is a mish-mash of bad behaviour and climate change denial, Joel Fitzgibbon walks onto the Labor election stage carrying a hand grenade.

His best move would be to become an independent so that the Labor brand does not become one with the government.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy

Back the community
How many Sunday coffees were arrested by the stunning sight of a duck spreading colourful wings in the advertisement in your paper calling for an end to duck hunting in the state (15/11)?
The ad brought together 43 organisations across Victoria – city, country, business, union, financial, legal, environment, wildlife and animal welfare groups.

As Victorians celebrate our emergence from a harsh COVID-19 lockdown and rediscover the natural assets of this state, the government is considering another duck shooting season for autumn. Our new boom in regional tourism and rural property prices will be interrupted by camo-clad shooters, the din of shotguns, and the realisation that many waterbirds are painfully wounded, not killed outright.

Most Victorians backed the Premier during the dark days of COVID-19. It’s time for him to back the community now. Duck shooting must end.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

This is not over
A third wave of COVID-19 would surely be catastrophic yet there are already far too many people behaving as if the danger has passed.

When passing a hundred or so fellow walkers on the waterfront on Sunday only about 20 per cent were wearing their masks correctly, i.e. covering both mouth and nose. Action needs to be taken to enforce correct wearing of masks – or we should ditch them altogether.

COVID-19 is undoubtedly gathering its resources for a third wave and too many of us are co-operating.
Ian Brown, Sandringham

A message of disrespect
How disappointing and indeed, unbelievable that the Morrison government voted down a motion to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags alongside the Australian flag in the Senate last week, even though it was NAIDOC week, in which First Nations’ history, culture and achievements are celebrated.

What a message of disrespect this sends to our First Nations People and I am deeply ashamed of this act carried out in our names.
Marie Trembath, Blackburn

Rail funding was …
So Greg Hunt has accused the state government of desperate and feeble excuses for not funding a federal government promise (‘‘Funding fight on Baxter rail plan’’, 15/11).

Let me get this straight. The Prime Minister makes an election promise whereby he will fund less than 20 per cent of the cost, relying on other sources (the state government) to fund the bulk of his promise. So not only does the Liberal Party break election promises, it lays the blame for unfulfilled promises on a government that was never party to the promise or indeed, the funding.

Normal levels of accountability, I guess. And normal levels of bells and whistles – make an announcement when you never intend to follow through.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

… an empty promise
On the day the Victorian government announced the biggest social housing program in the state’s history, the federal Health Minister criticises it for not investing in a rail line in his federal electorate.

The federal government’s pre-election commitment was an empty promise for a project that never had legs. On the other hand, new social housing of the scale proposed in Victoria is the kind of initiative the federal government should have committed to as part of a national economic stimulus program.

Sadly, Scott Morrison’s vision appears increasingly limited to lots of talk but little material action on the ground.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

A triple whammy
For the hard of hearing, social distancing has been a triple whammy. Trying to ‘‘fit in’’ is always an art form of interpreting what is being said. It involves getting close, lip reading and facial expression. Despite those cues we often pretend to have heard; it is a herd mentality hard to shake off. Consequences are often funny, or they can get you into trouble.

With lockdown, mask wearing and keeping our distance, it is an isolating world indeed. The prospect of masking down could not come soon enough.
Martin Hengeveld, Eltham

AND ANOTHER THING

Politics
Millions paid to public servants in bonuses, the JobSeeker COVID-19 supplement to be reduced to $150. What’s wrong with this picture?
Kevin Pierce, Richmond

Credit:

Unlikely headline from Michael O’Brien: Well done Labor with the proposed infectious disease institute; happy to co-operate to get the feds to contribute some funds.
Patricia Lowry, Brighton East

Are Joel Fitzgibbon’s electoral prospects more important than the mid-century survival of young Australians?
Ian Bayly, Upwey

It looks like Joel Fitzgibbon is stuck between a piece of coal and a hard place.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen

Every time Joel Fitzgibbon opens his mouth the Greens must want to hug him. Think of how many extra votes they will be getting from disillusioned Labor voters.
Kevin Ward, Preston

Social housing
A superior ‘‘HomeBuilder’’ scheme. Bravo, Dan Andrews.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

An excellent initiative which needs to be implemented with transparency and oversight so there is no need for inquiries into corruption down the track.
Dianne Lewis, Mount Martha

The lockdown
It’s interesting that our Prime Minister, once a vocal supporter of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions is now taking credit for Victoria’s success, which relied on ignoring his advice.
Geoff Phillips, Wonga Park

Furthermore
The Coalition neglecting to support electric cars and charging stations is egregious but expected – failure to support the royal commission recommendation on water bombers is dereliction of duty.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Finally
If Donald Trump starts his own news channel, does that mean we’ll get alternative alternative facts?
Mark Arthurson, McLaren Vale, SA

Note from the Editor

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