Letters to
the editor

Crash and burn no surprise

Paul Bongiorno writes, “Who would have thought the Abbott government’s first year would be the hash it was…”(“Picking up the Bill”, August 1-7). Quite a few, I suspect. Abbott only ever displayed shallow high-school debating negativism as his core attribute, and further lack of evident ability has duly manifested in office.

His “team”, such as it is, has however shown an adroitness at dismantling just about anything in its range of sight. Hand in hand with this, for example, is the embracing of coal, which will place us on the caboose of the renewables train, when only a few short years ago we were up front stoking the loco (coal analogy intentional).

As you rightly point out, this embracing will be, I suspect, at their electoral peril. 

– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW

Board members should have quit

I stayed at the Ayers Rock Resort the year after the land council purchased it. I enjoyed the experience, and thought it well worth the money paid (Mike Seccombe, “Ayers and disgraces”, August 1-7). It wasn’t worth the land council purchasing it though. I would have thought that if the board was deeply divided over the purchase, then the dissenting boardmembers should have resigned, loudly and openly, making absolutely clear the reason for the resignations. It might have forced the remaining board members to reconsider their decision, or at least make the government intervene more actively, somehow. Board decisions concerning major transactions should be unanimous, not just majority ones. 

– Wayne Robinson, Kingsley, WA

Future shock

Mike Seccombe may have a point (“The true cost of green energy”, July 25-31), but not mentioning methane clathrate in the greenhouse effect and climate change is like ignoring the convergence of IT and genomics in medical research. In 20 years’ time the states will not look like today, having a debt per citizen for Queensland plus Western Australia equivalent to two-thirds of Greece’s per citizen and suffering from a terminal cancer (debt they will never repay on their own). Cancer in 20 years’ time will not make headlines anymore, it will be all about genomics and slowing down the ageing process, policymakers cocooned by political branch stacking, lobbyists, bean counters will still talk gibberish, and we will still be paying 90 per cent tax at the pump, and if not, on solar panels. As Brian Cox mentioned on Q&A: “Clathrates are fascinating.” 

– Francois Humbert, East Fremantle, WA

Call for higher penalty rate

When Bronwyn Bishop evaded her $5227.27 helicopter charter fare, upon being caught she paid it back with a 25 per cent penalty of $1306.80. It costs me $3.76 for a tram fare, and if I evade that fare, the penalty is $212. The penalty is 56.4 times the original fare. If the same logic of punishing commuters at such harsh rates were applied to Bronwyn Bishop, she would be liable for about $310,000. There is a lack of proportion in politicians’ sense of entitlement and it is reflected in their lenient penalty structure. This sort of inequality should be called out.

– Tom Marshall, Richmond, Vic

Experts needed to rule on mine

Tony Windsor’s splendid article re the Abbott government’s approval of the Shenhua coalmine on the NSW Liverpool Plains – “above the largest groundwater system in the Murray-Darling system” which serves “some of the most productive [agricultural land] in the world” – reveals perhaps the most scandalous self-serving decision by an Australian government in my lifetime (“Going to groundwater”, July 25-31). And I’m a senior-senior citizen. Windsor or another well-informed agriculturalist could neutralise this decision by establishing another committee of eminent scientists, with expertise in the possible impact of mining in the area of groundwater systems, to examine the risk. The cost could surely be funded from farmers in the area and others concerned about the possible ruination of this rich agricultural land, as well as from many citizens troubled with the quality of decision-making where the long-term national interest clashes with the short-term self-interest of corporations and government. Such action would also help set a precedent against similar decision-making.

– Harold Levien, Dover Heights, NSW

Reconnected with an old friend

A few weeks ago my neighbour gave me The Saturday Paper to read. We were impressed, but my joy knew no bounds when I discovered Mungo’s cryptic again (“Puzzling gentleman”, August 1-7). We had subscribed to The Bulletin and then to The Week, so now we collect The Saturday Paper from the newsagent. My husband thinks it’s for the news coverage but I know it’s for Mungo! Sometimes I can solve it; I have yet to complete a DA (David Astle).

– Carolyn M. Reynolds, Lake Boga, Vic

Solution for a problem

As an avid cryptic crossworder, I eagerly await Mungo’s puzzle every Saturday. If I am travelling, I even organise a family member in advance to scan and email me the crossword so that I don’t miss out (perhaps one day you could include it in the digital subscription?). I appreciate Mungo’s penchant for the Australian vernacular, and his love of cricket means that I now know what a “crease” is. However – a week is too long to wait when I’m stuck on that final clue. There must be many other fans out there too, so let’s tweet #satpapercryptic to discuss the tricky clues each weekend. 

– Alexandra Hogan, Kingston, ACT

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 August 8, 2015.

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