Letters to
the editor

CRC Care had no conflict of interest

Chris Ray’s article “Exclusive: Toxic chemical conflict” (August 27-September 2) paints a picture of environmental consultancy firms colluding with the Department of Defence and enHealth to develop inadequate standards with a view to minimising liability. While I can’t speak for other organisations, I can assure you emphatically that CRC Care has had zero input into the development of enHealth’s human health reference values for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and has absolutely no conflict of interest in this matter. Indeed, this was evident from my comments quoted in the article. Despite this, and a disclaimer wedged into the middle of the story (“The Saturday Paper is not suggesting any of the consulting companies acted inappropriately”), the article clearly implied that all organisations mentioned were acting nefariously. Informed debate over any human health guidelines is fair and proper, but baseless suggestions of impropriety do your publication – and the public interest – a disservice. 

– Professor Ravi Naidu, Callaghan, NSW, managing director and CEO CRC Care

Reversing the flow of money

With so many taxed-nots, perhaps roughly related to the substantial majority who receive the compressed minority of Australia’s income (Editorial, “Tax craven”, August 27-September 3), one suggestion for Treasurer Scott Morrison to consider would be to promote policies that would protect and increase the incomes of workers, so many in part-time employment, so as to bring them within the tax range, along with the businesses where they would spend their increased largesse. The government still seems obsessed with trickling economics, despite the established, abject failure of the downward variety. How about having a crack at trickle-up?

– Richard Hansford, Pymble, NSW

A task for the newbies

Scott Morrison’s lengthy discourse on the budget matters has inspired me no end. I am now fully in accord with those who say that we should eliminate the same-sex plebiscite, thus saving at least $160 million. The bonus is that we now have a fresh new batch of parliamentarians just itching to have a go. What better to cut their cloth on than their very own voting for replacement of the expensive plebiscite. 

– Jim Banks, Pottsville Beach, NSW

Ask why as well as how

Ever since the first issue of The Saturday Paper, you demonstrated how different it is from other competitors; and how informed, informative and essential it was to be. That reputation remains. Issue 123 was particularly good. I would like to add a few thoughts to the very sound article on innovation by Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell (“Silicon folly”, August 27-September 3). As those authors stress, to begin with, we must keep apart the action of innovating and the word innovation. The word is new, and so fashionable, even if a bit jaded by now. The practice is as old as Homo sapiens as they went about their day refining their hunting tools and shelter. The activity of innovating is appreciating a need then conceiving an improvement to existing practice. How to do something better, how to be more effective. That is, innovation is an answer to “how to” questions. Very old questions. The Romans, 2000 years ago, became the first professionals to conceptualise the issue on a broader scale: how do we move our army faster? How do we get consistent water into our homes for sanitary needs and luxury comforts? “How” questions dominate modern times, and are especially strong in the frontier civilisations of North America and Australia with their initial needs to conquer the wild for shelter and wellbeing. This has led to the weakening, shunning and ridiculing of “why” questions: why are we doing this?, why not try x instead of y? Practical thinkers consider “why” destabilising, subversive. The task now is to end the hegemony of “how” in our culture, and restrain and direct it by promoting the honourable role of asking “why” regularly. By that means we may become more civilised and not just more contented, efficient human robots. And, in doing so, put that stale jargon word, innovation, in its place.

– Don Miller, North Carlton, Vic

PM’s experience of innovation

Vinsel and Russell’s article makes us aware that “tech speak” masks what innovation is really about. To innovate is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary process. For example, indexes in books were one of our first content navigators that eventually morphed into advertising agencies such as Google. Innovators reinvigorate the means to a well-established end rather than creating singularities such as new ideas without history. For example, merchant banker Malcolm Turnbull bought into a company, OzEmail, which he then sold back to a company resident in the country that innovated this business platform. This may be the reason behind his emphasis on “angel investors, agility, thought leaders, entrepreneurship, change agents, start-ups”. Clearly he is talking about himself. How like Malcolm. 

– Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW

Return of serve

I’m not sure what “ism” would be used to categorise your claim that “people are born privileged and stupid” (The Week, August 27-September 2), but making such a statement in the context of condemning racism is blatantly hypocritical. 

– Elizabeth Harrington, Milton, Qld

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 September 3, 2016.

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