Jobs pressure on possumsThe deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce, has called for the Leadbeater’s possum to be taken off the endangered species list in order to save 250 timber workers’ jobs (Karen Middleton, “Two men and a possum”, April 1-7). The Queensland premier went even further, calling for a federal government grant of $1 billion to the Adani mine in order to secure miners’ jobs. The South Australian premier wants to host a nuclear waste dump in his state – yes, you guessed it – to create jobs because unemployment is not only devastating for those affected, it’s also a sign of a failed economy. But oddly enough there was very little heard from politicians when jobs were lost from privatisation of public utilities – the sale of Victorian power cost 8000 jobs – or corporation and government job outsourcing. Nor do politicians seem concerned that immigration has boosted employment demand; the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates 180,000 a year more people entering the labour market when jobs growth was only 87,000. If that sounds hypocritical consider their economic policy called NAIRU which stands for the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, a gem dreamt up by an economist that argues we need 5 per cent unemployment to control inflation. Meaning workers won’t make a fuss about wages while jobs are hard to get.
– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW
Logging industry and pulp fiction
Victorian “forest guff” seems headed for a boom despite its crash in Tasmania. One would never guess that Tasmania had proportionately the most intensive native forest logging in the OECD until less than a decade ago, when it collapsed in bankruptcy, notwithstanding inexplicably massive public subsidies. It went down bleating wildly inflated claims of jobs provided but was silent about independent estimates that its economic damage to water catchments and tourism both exceeded the economic benefits of the logging industry. Despite its long list of demerits, which includes big-time threats to both Leadbeater’s possums and the world’s climate, the native forest logging industry retains a special soft spot in the hearts of politicians such as Barnaby Joyce because of its addiction to the cheap native forest trees that are found only in the pork barrels of governments like Barnaby’s.
– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas
Ready to protect your ABC
Thank you, Gadfly, for your resounding and excellent plug for Radio National, the jewel in the ABC’s crown (“Radio National treasure”, April 1-7). There have been signs of board interference, especially in political interviews, and some well-loved presenters have been replaced. However, the station is still a lively, constant and excellent source of information, education and entertainment. ABC TV, now a sorry ghost of its former self, seems beyond saving from the onslaughts of ill-disposed governments and board members. Radio devotees must be alert to any more signs of this in the direction of Radio National – get ready to write letters and emails to the board and to MPs.
– Ann Greenwood, Hobart, Tas
Not worth the money
Mike Seccombe’s excellent article on the state of our gas industry (“It’s only natural”, March 25-31) told us that companies including Santos and Origin entered into long-term contracts to supply overseas markets at rates linked to very high oil prices that existed at the time, but that those prices have since halved. As a result, the share price of the companies has dropped through the floor. We’re constantly told that the justification for the obscenely inflated remuneration paid to senior executives of large companies is that it’s necessary in order to attract the top talent. Is this the same talent that made the obviously misguided decisions highlighted in the article, decisions that have trashed the value of the companies they manage and of the investments made by their unfortunate shareholders?
– Geoff Skillen, Cook, ACT
Finding the right help
I want to wish Therase Lawless (“How the church forced me to relive my abuse”, March 18-24) all the best for the future. It is disgraceful that you have been treated so badly and shame on Towards Healing for putting you through an invasive assessment process. To be treated so poorly by a psychiatrist from whom you would expect empathy and understanding is a disgrace. The wrong psychiatrist can be so harmful and can add to the feelings of shame, trauma and isolation. The right psychiatrist can be the light needed to guide you out of the darkness. It took 20-plus years of trying for me to meet a fantastic psychiatrist. He is patient, caring and very empathetic. He treats me the person, not the symptoms, with the utmost respect.
– Lindsay Cogan, Carrum Downs, Vic
America’s death count
To suggest, as Peter Greste does (“Losing the trump card”, April 1-7), that America’s moral authority collapsed with Donald Trump’s rise to power is to ignore the historical record. Trump may be a loathsome demagogue but he spoke the truth, however inadvertently, when he said that the United States has “a lot of killers”. According to William Blum, between 1945 and the beginning of the 21st century the US “attempted to overthrow more than 40 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes”. Millions suffered and died as a result, and that’s to say nothing of Afghanistan or Iraq, or president Barack Obama’s drone wars in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. America’s “moral authority” has always been a rhetorical device, a deathful hypocrisy on a massive scale.
– Ben Brooker, Unley, SA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Apr 8, 2017. Subscribe here.