Attacks on ABC against national interest
It says a lot about the Coalition government that it would use as a bargaining chip the independence and integrity of one of our national treasures – the ABC (Mike Seccombe, “The Hanson plot to kill the ABC”, October 21-27). It would do this to gain a few votes in the senate for short-term items of political expediency. Eminent lawyer Julian Burnside once said, in effect, that governments dislike the ABC because it tells the truth. The last thing this government wants is an informed electorate. The Great Barrier Reef can be sacrificed to appease the right wing of the Coalition dedicated to coal – and miners’ donations – and spurious future employment figures. The ABC can be starved of funds and gradually crippled to appease One Nation and commercial media that peddle misinformation and tailor their news in order not to offend advertisers or other commercial interests. When will we get a federal government that acts in the national interest?
– Gael Barrett, North Balwyn, Vic
Poor choice of image
The front-page story on the ABC was the usual excellent journalism from Mike Seccombe, however the photo of Michelle Guthrie is distressing. It is the usual photo of frowning bewilderment, and in semi-profile. The story itself included an account of a forthright and challenging speech by Ms Guthrie. Mark Scott was not presented like this. It is pretty disappointing that this respected paper gets this obvious bit of gender representation so wrong.
– Margaret Wallace, Adelaide, SA
Nationals not helping their friends
I was interested to read that the National Party is requiring that at least two members of the ABC board represent rural interests. It’s a pity the National Party doesn’t seem to show support for the rural interests presented in the excellent Landline on ABC TV. Pip Courtney and her team present a balanced, informative program showcasing innovative ideas that appear to receive no interest from the National Party and often struggle with broadband issues. When is the National Party going to start supporting the people who voted for them?
– Lesley Raper, Bentleigh East, Vic
A difficult energy outlook
The Turnbull energy package is a profound disappointment (Karen Middleton, “Ambitions intensity scheme”, October 21-27). It might do something to improve system reliability, though even that is questionable. It fails to meet our international obligation to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Even if the package reduces pollution from electricity supply by 26-28 per cent, as has been claimed, that is nowhere near enough. Electricity accounts for less than 30 per cent of our greenhouse gas production. Transport produces similar amounts, manufacturing about 20 per cent and mining about 10 per cent. It is much more difficult to make cost-effective savings in those areas. In fact, with the transport lobby opposed to any serious fuel economy standards, it is hard to see any savings in that area. CSIRO modelling showed we need to cut emissions from the electricity sector by at least 50 per cent, probably more like 75 per cent, just to meet our Paris commitment – and that does not go far enough to avoid dangerous climate change. A responsible government would be planning now to get all our power from renewables, with back-up mainly from pumped hydro, by 2030.
– Ian Lowe, Marcoola, Qld
Sustained thinking on sustainability needed
We need a guarantee that Australia will phase out black energy. Karen Middleton’s insight that this is impossible for parties who still think they can play with climate policy is devastating for all of us. The energy oligarchs at the AFR National Energy Summit will now be responsible for reducing our emissions as well as guaranteeing reliability. Although they piously pledged commitment to the Paris climate goals, just leaving it to the market is no guarantee. Chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel called for a whole-of-economy emissions reduction strategy by 2020. People need affordable energy as well as protection from fossil fuelled disasters. Absent from the summit were the large-scale wind and solar plants, the small-scale solar citizens and the communities that have locked their gates against fracked gas or mobilised against future coal exports from the Galilee. However, Voltaire said, “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” So let the community and the power providers get cracking on a road map to decarbonising our energy sector. Let the agriculture, transport and building sectors put their offers on the table, too, so the whole society engages in sustained thinking.
– Vivien Langford, Paddington, NSW
Abbott’s burning ambition
Karen Middleton (“Abbott looks to Pell on energy policy”, October 14-20) quotes Tony Abbott as saying, “Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods.” As an ex-seminarian Mr Abbott will be conversant with the book of Leviticus and its commandments about (for example) how to handle the liver of the sacrificed ox before it may be burnt as an offering. Volcano gods are not a necessary part of mumbo-jumbo. Sheep and goats – the holy scriptures have something to say about that as well. The constituency for which Mr Abbott speaks found its voice in him and we all carried the consequences. His own party found his regime so repugnant they kicked him out. Some people can’t take a hint.
– Jim Young, via email
I am reminiscing about The National Times. You fit the gap in a way I have been waiting for. Many thanks.
– Mary Porter, Watsons Bay, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Oct 28, 2017. Subscribe here.