Politicians in stasis on climate
I write in support of Jo Dodds (Letters, March 24–30) in calling for our political leaders to take immediate bipartisan action on climate change. Elsewhere in the same edition (“Hero marks thirty”, by Chris Wallace), we may read: “What about the chronic and cataclysmic issue of climate change? Turnbull runs a government determinedly opposing science and decent energy and environmental policy. If there is one thing that symbolises his weakness and hypocrisy, this is it.” Under the Abbott and Turnbull governments, Australia’s carbon emissions have continued to rise for the fourth year running – roughly since the repeal of the carbon tax. Yet both the polluters and the politicians appear to remain in a state of moral disengagement from the consequences of what they are doing. As temperatures continue to rise, the probability of events such as the Tathra bushfire increases. Young people, and those yet to be born, are the least able to protect themselves from what is a clear betrayal of public trust: state–corporate complicity in promoting coal and other fossil fuels. As noted by Wallace, “This is no time for Australia to indulge a mediocre prime minister.”
– David Nash, Manly, NSW
SA poll and big data
We worry about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica (Hamish McDonald, World, March 24–30) but if Facebook falls, its equivalent will rise, and another analytics monster has already bitten Australia: i360, sponsored by the billionaire Koch brothers. Senior South Australian Liberal insiders say i360’s app was “essential” to their win. It identified individual swinging voters, their age, gender, friends, voting habits, policy interests, survey responses, and doubtless intimate personal data, too. This company seeks out only “free-market” candidates. The Murdoch press told us all this. Chris Kenny in The Australian predicted a Liberal win would have other parties rushing for the same tools. “This is Big Brother meets grassroots campaigning,” he wrote on March 17, but made no comment on the implied threats to privacy and fragile democracy. Precisely targeted appeals to fear and prejudice in marginal seats will replace real debate: even more now, and perhaps from all sides.
– Chester Schultz, Exeter, SA
Hysteria on China not warranted
Excellent article by Karen Middleton (“Great will of China”, March 24–30). Most of the anguish seems to be about the financial consequences to Australia, particularly the prospective hit on the education industry and probably the tourism industry as well. But surely there is a bigger issue of principle here. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation talks about the dangers of foreign interference. We need to be “very conscious of the possibilities of foreign interference in our universities”. It can even “go to atmospherics in universities”. Huh? What is this hysteria all about? If you read the Australian government’s foreign policy white paper, it talks about spreading Australia’s influence abroad – and so it should. What is the fear about Chinese influence? There is no evidence China seeks to turn Australia into a one-party communist state. The only message, as far as I can see, is that China seeks good relations, understanding and respect. Australians are free to speak their minds about China, and do, frequently, displaying what can only be called extreme China phobia. This fear is groundless. Let’s welcome China, their business, their students and tourists.
– Mike Lyons, Bondi Beach, NSW
Buck stops with the boss
In recent weeks, there has been much criticism within this paper of Peter Dutton as a minister, as a politician and as a human being who lacks morals and ethics (Editorial, “Dutton’s casualties”, March 24–30). However, surely the blame should not all be sheeted his way. He was after all appointed by his boss, Malcolm Turnbull. Shouldn’t the head of any organisation be held responsible for any dubious decisions made in the company’s name?
– Con Vaitsas, Ashbury, NSW
Drawing a line under Jason Phu
Your “cartoon” Sad Bull (Editorial, March 24–30), is disgraceful. I hold no brief for Malcolm Turnbull, nor his government, but this attack on him is completely personal. There’s not even any wit to it. It is breathtakingly appalling. You write at the foot of the page that it is meant to explore “the intersection between art and politics”. Where is the politics? There’s none, just a mindless and no doubt completely invented personal slur. I am a foundation reader of your otherwise excellent publication, and this is the only thing in it that I have ever been gobsmacked about. What were you thinking?
– Rob Gerrand, St Kilda, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Mar 31, 2018.
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Letters & Editorial