Letters

Letters to
the editor

Others need to step up, too

Both Greg Hunt and Malcolm Turnbull receive a deserved drubbing for being accessories to deceit (Mike Seccombe, “On the Hunt for an environment plan”; Kate Holden, “Agreeable and vacated: The Malcolm Turnbull story”, December 6-12). Harsh words perhaps, but are these ministers any different from their colleagues? Is Hunt any different from Tony Burke who, as environment minister, delayed heritage listing of the Tarkine for the benefit of miners? And has any health minister, state or federal, ever highlighted the dangers of coal, which just through its combustion releases toxic gases, heavy metals and particulates resulting in increases in respiratory problems, cancers, lung and kidney disease and birth defects costing our health system $2.6 billion annually? It seems that health ministers are able to put the economy before humanity. This veil of silence extends down to our local members; can it be possible that not one National Party member is concerned about the impact of mining and fracking on agriculture or that not one Queensland politician is worried about dredging in the Great Barrier Reef?

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Watery figures

It was with a somewhat resigned attitude that I read Sophie Morris’s article outlining how the federal government was once again demonstrating its ignorance of, or contempt for, the apparent effects of climate change and the work that has been done by previous governments to redress some of these problems (“Up the creek”, December 6-12). However I think her assertion that the $13 billion spent on the program to buy back water licences in the Riverina is equivalent to $100 for every Australian taxpayer would suggest there are 130 million taxpayers in Australia. In fact the figure is $1000 for every taxpayer – a figure that demonstrates the importance the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments placed on the scheme.

– John Turnbull, Sydney, NSW

Abbott and the emperor

Thank you, Mike Seccombe, for your incisive article on the Coalition’s breathtakingly inadequate excuse for an environment policy. Tony “coal-is-good-for-humanity” Abbott has stated that Australia has “too many trees locked away in protected forests”. This proclamation reminds me of the opinion rendered by Emperor Joseph II after listening to Mozart performing one of his compositions. “Too many notes, too many notes,” he purportedly huffed. It appears that these two men have something in common, and it isn’t wisdom.

– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW

Go to the back of the class

Here I am reading the leading article on Christopher Pyne (Sophie Morris, “Senate defeats lone Pyne”, December 6-12). Nice satirical tone taking me through his “report card”, until the shocking conclusion: “Despite all his hard work, Christopher failed his major test and we recommend he repeat the year.” Another year of Pyne as minister for education? Bugger off. There’s another lad, currently sitting maudlin at the back of the class, not lacking ideas and ideology. He’d see the potential in “higher” education to be more rigidly interpreted as pertaining to matters spiritual and holy. He would possibly devote the entire federal funding package to the training of the priesthood. Maybe even George Pell would come back home. It’s a no-brainer. Step up, Cory Bernardi.

– John Bell, Young, NSW

Where art and politics meet

As Patrick Hartigan implies (“Pop goes the easel”, December 6-12), there was often a more serious ideological intent to the production of Pop art in the US. I found this out in New York working for James Rosenquist as a studio assistant. One day, in the summer of 1969, there was an argument between Jim and his mother-in-law. Later Jim told me he had donated one of his paintings to the Black Panthers and his mother-in-law had just found out. This was, according to the values of white middle America, an act of treason. It was clear his politics and his paintings were not just a simple celebration of consumer culture. His iconic painting (and lithograph shown in the exhibition) of the F-111 was clearly a critique of American values styled after the billboards he used to paint in Times Square. Donating an artwork to the Black Panthers suggests Rosenquist was serious about how his work might act as a valuable commodity in other, distinctly political discourses.

– Charles Zuber, Dutton Park, Qld

Specialists needed for quality ABC

Mike Seccombe told only part of the story of “What Mark Scott is really doing” (November 29-December 5). Whether in trying so many outlets Scott has overplayed his hand is a very serious question. Put in modish terms, has he focused too much on “poles and wires” and on “pipes”, at a damaging cost to what flows along those means of transmission? Even worse, there seem to be increasing grounds for worry that the overt preference of “versatile generalists” over people with specialised knowledge is proving exceedingly costly to the ABC’s quality. Recently on Q&A several politicians deplored the loss of specialised and informed reporters from the Canberra press gallery. Reportage thereby becomes political gossip about “bread and circuses”. The same is true of programs about education, science, medicine, art, music, literature, not to mention foreign affairs. Yet such knowledge is an essential for great (even good) programs. When such people as Robyn Williams and Norman Swan leave the ABC it is hard to see that their important programs will continue. 

– John Carmody, Roseville, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 13, 2014. Subscribe here.

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