Letters to
the editor

Scientists working on solutions

Helen Caldicott’s comments (“The nuclear option”, May 30-June 5) do very little, if anything, to further sensible argument. Global warming is real, current power generation is a major contributor to the problem, and nuclear power is a possible solution. Given that clean, low-carbon energy is the goal, then all alternative methods of producing it must be seriously studied and considered without the distraction of specious, emotional and misleading arguments. The present development of solar, wind farms and suchlike is commendable, however, because of their inability to meet the base load and peak requirements, nuclear power with its very large capacity deserves serious consideration. The two primary arguments against nuclear are the safe disposal of its radioactive waste and the danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Given the nuclear weapons situation is well-recognised, disposal of the waste becomes the more immediate concern. Scientists have recently developed a method of recycling used nuclear fuel rods to generate electricity. This process reduces the size of the waste and the duration of its high radioactivity from hundreds of thousands of years to hundreds. This significant but not well-known progress does not solve the problem, but it does contribute significantly to arguments for the use of nuclear power. 

– Anthony Wilkinson, Gowrie, ACT

Considering the evidence

I enjoyed reading Dr Caldicott’s contribution to the nuclear debate as it illustrates how opponents to a modern nuclear industry literally need to make things up. Dr Caldicott invents a frightening proposal she says I am putting to the royal commission (the real one is rather less controversial, I’m afraid) and goes forth to offer 1712 fearmongering words without a single reference. As a paediatrician until 1980 and an anti-nuclear activist since, Dr Caldicott is not a nuclear expert. But then, as a senator for South Australia, neither am I. Rather, it’s my job to consult with experts and it’s on that basis that I form my views. Unlike Dr Caldicott, the experts provide references when asked and their claims are supported by evidence. They don’t just expect authority on the subject; they earn it. That’s who South Australia must listen to. 

– Sean Edwards, senator for South Australia

Debate required, not hysterical claims

Helen Caldicott very wisely warns us against allowing the ill-qualified and self-interested to make decisions affecting our future. Sadly, we are generally ill-informed in these matters, and therefore vulnerable, because debate on the nuclear “option” is so often smothered under ignorance and hysteria. Until recently, ALP standing rules actually prohibited even the mention of nuclear power on meeting agendas. All the more sadly, Caldicott does nothing to dispel our ignorance. Her apocalyptic vision of everything from cancer epidemics to dwarfism is littered with polemical exaggerations, misunderstandings and outright fantasies. I’m neither an expert on nuclear power, nor its advocate, but I know enough to know better. I also believe that informed consent is only possible after enlightened debate. 

– Matthew Peckham, Brunswick, Vic

Mixed benefits of marriage equality

Now that it is coming out of the mouth of Alan Jones (Editorial, “More equal”, May 30-June 5), perhaps it can be critiqued for the sloganistic nonsense that it is: marriage is not about love, it is about property and income. The Hawke government cleverly reduced its social security budget by refusing to pay benefits to heterosexual “de facto” couples in the early ’80s. Then under the halo of “equality under the law”, the Rudd government declared homosexuals in the same live-in circumstances also to be “de facto”. In my personal case, and those of many I know, this simply reduced the household budget by denying dole and sickness benefits, without notice, to one party of a couple. Now we bicker about who gets to use the term, when in fact the term is “de facto”: applied without our consent by the government anyway. Let the government declare property and income rights (custody, visitation, etc), and free up the word marriage to be defined according to the different religious and subcultural meanings it already has. Then some can truthfully declare it to be about love, while the rest of us can banish it to the history of men owning and selling women. 

– Keith Duddy, West End, Qld

PM shying away from popular move

Tony Abbott amazes me. Parliament members are expected to be clever people who can do many tasks simultaneously as clever business people do. However, when asked about same-sex marriage, Mr Abbott shrugs off the topic, talking budget matters and terrorism. One would think that as PM, he should be only too happy to please thousands upon thousands of his constituents by announcing that he will, as a matter of urgency, help push through legislation for marriage equality. This would also show the public that he is capable of moving quickly when matters of public interest are concerned. 

– Jim Banks, Pottsville Beach, NSW

Praise for cultural exposé

Martin McKenzie-Murray’s account of the arts minister’s annexation of Australia Council funding (“Inside George Brandis’s arts heist”, May 23-29) is quality journalism. This story contains an empirical account of what is taking place and provides a theoretical explanation of how the arts minister is thinking about this field of culture. Absolutely brilliant and a great read. It seems evident that the arts minister has by his action created a regime of double dipping in the arts budget. 

– Anne Rieusset-Frazer, Monbulk, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 6, 2015.

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