The burning issue of climate change
As a resident of Tathra surrounds, still fighting to secure my property from the fires, I am calling for help. There is no doubt climate change was a factor in why the Tathra fire was so devastating. There is a scientifically recognised escalation in the severity and frequency of catastrophic fire days. But I note that our prime minister would not acknowledge that this fire was unusual in intensity and therefore a likely result of increasingly dangerous climatic conditions caused by climate change. Denying us the opportunity to acknowledge this causal connection is akin to the NRA trying to shut down discussions about gun control after a shooting tragedy. We have the right to demand action to make us safer. Tathra has been calling for action on climate change since 2006 when Clean Energy for Eternity formed a human sign on Tathra Beach. Climate change is not a political matter – it is a devastating fact caused by our failure to rise above politics. Knowing that many others have lost all but their lives, watching the smoke and flames as I write, I call on our political and other leaders to acknowledge the danger and to take appropriate, bipartisan action now.
– Jo Dodds, Chinnock, NSW
Time to exit Adani
There is a slim chance Adani may well have started as a serious proposition. We will never know (Karen Middleton, “Yeah, you and whose Adani?”, March 17–23). What has become palpably clear is that the Carmichael coal project is a rent-seeking proposition in which every man and his dog has become engulfed. This preposterous charade has embroiled local, state and federal politicians, unions and environmental groups that continue to publicly ignore that the project is a gravy train that took off, and down the track nobody has the courage, ability, incentive or just old-fashioned honesty to jump off.
– Peter Alexis, Taroona, Tas
International trade complexities
I write in response to Mike Seccombe’s piece (“Trump’s trade war leaves Turnbull gun-shy”, March 17–23). I, too, am an expert on international trade, with five years as Australia’s permanent representative to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), ending my public service career as deputy secretary in the Department of Trade. I disagree with your observations about Australia’s ability to join a case against the United States actions on steel and aluminium. Quite apart from the fact it would be a bit rich for us to protest about measures from which we had been exempted, there is no basis for any action against the US in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The agreement allows actions taken for national security reasons, and no judicial authority in the WTO is in a position to interrogate or deliberate on US actions taken for that purpose. The US could not sustain a case of dumping – at least in the case of steel – since no US company complained about dumped imports. The case was initiated by the US Commerce Department, which presumably is why Trump was advised to choose the “national security” route. The idea that we could somehow make a case built around the fact that iron ore prices are down, or share prices have fallen, would be unprecedented. The issue of free trade is much more complicated than was made out.
– Colin Teese, Toorak, Vic
Health cover and market forces
Andrea Booth and Martin McKenzie-Murray were right to start their exposé of Bupa by emphasising its global reach (“Done for cover”, March 17–23). Bupa is not the first to try introducing US-style managed (or rationed) care systems here. Kaiser Permanente tried in the 1990s. While doctors are not perfect, they do at least start from a patient-centred position. Bupa’s decision to disallow cover for hip and knee replacement surgery, while also stopping no-gap cover, tells us exactly where it starts from. The argument about rising costs hides a coercive trend to provide less cover for more premium while limiting choice to “accredited” hospitals. The government has no “Gordian knot” to unravel as suggested; rather it needs to decide if its interests lie in community welfare or corporate welfare.
– Gil Anaf, Norwood, SA
Calling out Dutton
Good journalism is telling it like it is. And that’s precisely what your editorial, “Waving the white tag” (March 17–23), does. It captures succinctly the morally bankrupt character of Peter Dutton and spells out why he is not a fit person to be the mega minister of Home Affairs. It’s a national disgrace to have such a racist reactionary as a government minister in a good democracy such as ours.
– Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 24, 2018. Subscribe here.