Environment cops a caning
Your article (Nick Feik, “Mean green government”, March 22-28) brought to my mind the parallels with the disastrous release of cane toads in 1935. In this instance, science and long-term consequences were subjugated in favour of profit. The beneficiaries of the removal of the cane beetle – sugar cane farmers – were a relatively small sector of the Australian economy even at that time. The closing of the Council of Australian Governments environment ministers’ forum, scrapping of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, plus the others mentioned, are all engineered to do what your article rightly concludes: to break the nexus between carbon and climate in the public mind. All to the benefit of the carbon industry, much of which is overseas owned. Just as in the 1930s the ability of envisaging the destructive effect of cane toads was beyond the politicians of that day, so too it seems is the effect of carbon, on climate, in this day. As your article points out, legislation being put before the parliament to enable the minister to ignore conservation advice, which will be immune to legal challenge, brings to mind the immunity and toxic destruction of cane toads. This may in decades to come be indeed the Abbott government’s defining characteristic.
– Mike Clifford, Blaxland, NSW
Divide in defamation business
There is little point in suing for defamation (Marcia Langton, “Keeping Bolt in business”, March 22-28)if one has not suffered any significant financial loss as a result of being defamed. Those that Bolt bothers to insult are generally also those who lose nothing other than personal dignity in the one-sided exchange. He, on the other hand, can potentially sue for massive amounts because he stands to lose massively if he, for example, were to lose his job as a result of unwarranted defamation. So, freedom of expression means rich sods can slam poor sods recklessly.
– Keith Russell, Mayfield West, NSW
Not just Bolt at fault
Thank you for a well-argued case (“Keeping Bolt in business”). Unfortunately, the elephant in the room is the subset of the population who are ignorant, bigoted, unthinking or just rank opportunists and provide an audience, a platform and a source of wealth for people like Bolt. That the utterances of Bolt, Jones, Hadley, etc, resonate with a significant number of people is a disgusting, shameful disgrace. This audience is certainly the lowest common denominator of society.
– Ford Kristo, Kangaroo Valley, NSW
Secularism needs declaring
Sue Hobley (Letters, March 22-28) fails to appreciate the position of people like me who do not disagree with religion entirely. As a Christian, I am deeply concerned about the damage caused by atheistic dogma and the lack of governmental surveillance of atheistic organisations and individuals seeking to impose their will on others. I regard it as proper – not improper – that politicians and others (such as doctors, teachers, and jurists) who have important public responsibilities make clear their atheistic convictions. Only then can individuals and communities begin to understand the consequences of their choices in inviting them to make decisions that affect people of diverse other persuasions. The public invests in the training of doctors for the common weal and doctors are not entitled to allow their particular personal values to override community values that have been recognised through legislation. The defence of religious belief as laid down in the Australian constitution should be the concern of all thoughtful individuals, whatever their religious or other convictions (atheism being a form of theology), for it is the only sure means of defending their rights in a diverse society such as Australians enjoy.
– John Garretty, Kelso, NSW
Fears over ASIO’s future peers
May there be more probing into licensed paranoids (Debra Jopson, “Inside ASIO’s files”, March 22-28). It’s well researched, this organisation’s form for getting off-track and ruining peoples lives and employment prospects. Future worries? An alignment between spooks, corporate power and their allies in government. Couldn’t happen? The Hague may prove it has. Given that ASIO pays its staff to be paranoid, I foresee a creeping alliance with right-wing governance and business interests at home, colour coded, from reds to greens. All denied, obviously, closing the curtains with a pull on the “national security” drawstring. Beware thinking Australians, ASIO has a bad history.
– Warren Tindall, Bellingen, NSW
All eyes on Pell
It is fascinating that George Pell looks directly at the man asking him questions at the royal commission (Honourable Justice Peter McClellan, AM), but when asked a question by Gail Furness, SC, the counsel assisting the commission, he stares at his computer terminal most of the time. I think the Pope has done well to get him out of the road of normal society. He may not be good at dealing with women.
– Fred McArdle, Brunswick, Vic
It seems that the rumours of the death of quality, in-depth coverage and analysis of news and current affairs in Australia have been exaggerated. For all of our sakes, may you go from strength to strength!
– Graeme Domm, Flemington, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 29, 2014. Subscribe here.