Letters to
the editor

Looming disaster of Adani coalmine

Vaishali Patil’s article (“Carmichael brunt”, April 8-14) provides a disturbing insight into Adani, the company that wants to build a giant coalmine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland. From an Indian perspective “the damage that Adani has done to our people can’t be overstated. Behind Adani is a dark and disturbing history of environmental and human rights abuses”. It is not surprising Gautam Adani has rejected an open letter urging him to abandon the project. The letter was signed by 90 prominent Australians (referred to by MP George Christensen as “elitist wankers”). Resources Minister Matthew Canavan has attempted to suggest Australia will be supplying higher-quality coal than that which India would otherwise use, and that India will get coal from other sources if denied our coal. Never mind that coal is the biggest single cause of air pollution in Australia. Never mind that the Queensland government has granted Adani unlimited access to groundwater for the next 60 years, possibly draining the Great Artesian Basin. Never mind the possibility of coal spilling from Adani ships traversing the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef, already subject to mass coral bleaching. These concerns go well beyond the 90 “elitist wankers” who signed the open letter. Environmental risks potentially affect hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihood is dependent on farming and tourism, not to mention health. Current support by politicians for opening the world’s largest coalmine is not only a looming environmental and public health disaster, it is incompatible with Australia’s obligations to protect the Reef.

– David Nash, Manly, NSW

Held to account on climate change

Karen Middleton has drawn our attention to the somewhat startling economic implications of climate change and the extreme weather events that seem to be associated with it (“Industry takes lead on climate disasters”, April 8-14). Climate change is an effect of ubiquitous carbon pollution. That problem is also a problem of human sanity. In the London Review of Books Benjamin Kunkel observes that subsidising fossil fuels as we do is a suicidal subsidy. Carbon pollution is also a moral challenge. We need to be accountable to each other so that we do not disadvantage some in order to advantage others in the transition to a post-carbon energy system. We also need to be accountable to the unborn. Finally we need to be accountable to the Earth as the gift to be received with respect by all and for all.

 – Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW

Asylum seekers can be an asset

Tom Ballard’s article “No Laughing Matter” (April 1-7) raised an issue on which I have been giving a lot of thought – the positive role that those fleeing repression could play, if only they had the chance. People seeking safety in Australia from repression and terrorism in Asia are already building peace movements here. Current policy leaves Australia’s immigration system looking a lot like the repressive regimes these people are fleeing. I have been talking via text message to someone on Manus who laments racism and religious intolerance in Pakistan, and he said to me: “I thought Western countries give rights to all people.” That was before he became a human sacrifice to getting the Liberals re-elected. He tells me there is a new private company providing services on Manus. “Taliban left, ISIS came,” was his observation. Fair comparison, I thought. 

– Diane Atkinson, Macclesfield, SA

A better life is possible

The Saturday Paper has given good exposure to mental health (for example, Donna Lu, “Mother load”, March 25-31; and Anna Spargo-Ryan, “The suicide gene”, December 24, 2016-January 27, 2017). If we want mental illness to be seen as an illness then, as with all illness, we need to recognise an individual pathway of symptoms in, as well as out of, ill health. While depression shows a common range of symptoms, the way these show themselves varies enormously. As does response to treatment and the range of treatments required. When I read stories of persistent depression, I often ask myself if they reflect a chronic illness that ebbs and flows or a condition where consistent, methodical treatment with minimal gaps in care is absent. My story of depression, which includes hospitalisation, trials of medication and mixed forms of therapy, has resulted in a 10-year-long remission which included the loss of my father and the challenges of parenting teenagers. It has also included retraining and now working in mental health in primary practice. My story does not negate any other, but in the mix of discussion about depression, recovery can exist. 

– Dr Susan Boden, Narrabundah, ACT

Follow the money trail

I remember being told in high school that a basic tenet of socialism was the redistribution of wealth. Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have become the Marx and Engels of modern Australia as they find more ways to make the rich richer and the poor poorer (Paul Bongiorno, “Sutherland bluster”, April 8-14). Endorsing cuts to penalty rates, cutting company tax and arguing against negative gearing and capital gains reforms are but a few of the government’s actions against the poor and the working poor. Many others are also struggling with robo-debt and cuts to welfare benefits, education and health. Our wealth has been redistributed, but not equitably or fairly. 

– John Bailey, Canterbury, NSW

Bluster on the May budget

I finally understand the reason for Scott Morrison’s smugly supercilious smile – by not addressing negative gearing, capital gains tax or family trusts he is indeed doing unto (some) others what he would like done unto him.

– Kathryn Lai, Engadine, NSW

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 April 15, 2017.

A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.