Business as usual
The significance of the impending legal challenge from the Mackay Conservation Group and the Environmental Defenders Office NSW (James Rose, “Reef motif”, January 24-30) cannot be overstated. The Commonwealth’s decision to sign off on the huge Galilee Basin coal project is not unexpected, and is indicative of the Abbott government’s ideological position against any significant action on climate change. The relentless grab for coal and more coal, not just in Queensland but also in NSW, is a familiar story. Big Coal has known for decades that their product is warming the planet but, assisted by Tony Abbott’s vociferous campaign to “axe the tax”, has consistently resisted any attempt to make the polluter pay. Australia is now the big loser, with investments in the renewable sector dropping massively, and the Great Barrier Reef at risk. Fossil fuel exporters have a limited window of opportunity to continue treating the earth’s atmosphere as a free waste dump – and they know it. Twenty-six years ago, Time magazine displayed on its front cover an image of the globe held together with twine, with the subtitle: “Planet of the Year: Endangered Earth”. Last year was officially the hottest year since records began in 1880. And yet, after compelling evidence of anthropogenic climate change published in various scientific reports, as far as fossil fuel companies, the Commonwealth government, and the Queensland and NSW governments are concerned, it’s business as usual, that is, unless the Federal Court decides otherwise.
– David Nash, Manly, NSW
Freedom to know the truth
The thought strikes me that there is not a government in the world (elected or otherwise) that stands to benefit by diminishing the ignorance of its populace. This thought seems to have become the primary policy determinant in Australia. Last week Mike Seccombe (“Inside Dutton’s asylum endgame”) reminded us that “poll after poll has shown that most Australians ... approve of a hardline policy on asylum seekers”. I expect this misanthropic bias would shift if most Australians were allowed to know what really goes on inside the Manus and Nauru gulags. We are bluffed and bamboozled by opaque walls of euphemism and denial, even bare-faced falsehood; most of us are taken in while the civilised world looks on in dismay. Media scrutiny, being against the national interest, is forbidden in ever more threatening terms. Fair questions are brushed aside unanswered, journalists are spied on and ignorance reigns. Abbott recently described the freedom of the press as a pillar of democracy – did he mean everywhere, or just in France?
P. S. Tell Mungo the crossword is too easy for a weekly – can he ratchet it up now Paul McNeill from Carnegie has got the hang of it?
– Matthew Peckham, Brunswick, Vic
Please explain, and apologise
It is self-evident that neither the Coalition nor the ALP has the least idea how to extract this country from the ongoing disaster we have created with asylum-seeker policy. As a result of entirely political decisions by both parties, Australia is now a pariah among civilised nations. Like other thinking people, I am deeply ashamed and angry. The mere thought that we could ever have conceived of the idea that we could simply renounce our legal obligations – not to mention our humane responsibilities – to ignore the plight of those who come to us seeking asylum is reprehensible. The current situation on Manus Island can be tolerated no longer. Both the current minister and his counterpart must take immediate steps to jointly renounce past policies. They must apologise to the refugees for the terrible pain and suffering they have caused. They must also apologise to taxpayers for the unbelievable amount of money wasted. It is their duty to take on the burden of explanation. Who else can do it?
– Lyn Kennedy, Wesburn, Vic
Desperate response is no surprise
The indefinite incarceration of people who, contrary to the lies of the government, have committed no wrong, who have done nothing illegal, is an evil abomination. Cloaked in secrecy, and the carefully crafted political euphemisms obscuring their appalling predicament, these people are prisoners. They have no human rights, absolutely no idea of how long they are to be imprisoned, or what will become of them. If and when they are ever released, are they destined to be returned to the persecution from which they fled, or released into some impoverished port of convenience susceptible to a little largesse? Their imprisonment is in circumstances of brutality and deprivation that would never be tolerated in the very worst of the nation’s jails. That protest, self-harm and rioting should occur is hardly surprising. No self-respecting human being could accept this injustice without at some point attempting a desperate response.
– David Payne, Bermagui, NSW
Innovation can play its part
Such tragedies as that in the Waterlow family (Juliet Darling, “Cracks in the system”, January 24-30) may be avoided if the schizoid family member is treated with an implantable “device” that issues the daily dose of the essential drug into the patient’s system as programmed. Surely such a method is not beyond the imagination of our brilliant medical and technical brains ?
– Joan Croll, Drummoyne, NSW
A warm reception
Welcome back. I’ve missed you.
– John East, Greenslopes, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jan 31, 2015. Subscribe here.