It’s like a kind of torture
The prime minister’s recent reference to the party room as “a muppet show” insults the “Muppets” (Paul Bongiorno, “The enemies within”, September 8–14). Unlike the LNP, the “Muppets” are truly a broad church with no need for backstabbers and plotters – the same team has been together for decades. Kermit, Elmo, Ernie and Big Bird keep the excesses of Ms Piggy, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch in check, while the hecklers add a view from the balcony. The Muppets delight rather than embarrass. They inspire values we want for our kids – fairness, courage, respect, questioning and thinking for yourself. It’s a far cry from the government’s faceless men, assassins and bullies with scores to settle. Not “Muppets”, just mediocre politicians who’ve lost their way. Which brings us to energy and climate policy. We have neither. Ever since Tony Abbott announced that “climate change is crap”, the LNP has scuttled efforts to climate-proof Australia. Now referred to as the “Trump down under”, the new old team led by Scott Morrison has separated energy and emissions, making a sensible road map to the future impossible. New Energy Minister Angus Taylor wasted no time attacking renewables as the cause of high electricity prices, a dubious view given the wholesale price of wind and solar is now cheaper than coal and gas. While Kermit admits, “It’s not easy being green”, Taylor won’t be trying. More important is a quick thumbs up to fossil fuel donors before the next election.
– Mhairi Fraser, Goulburn, NSW
Alarm bells closer to home
In a single week there have been two disturbing reports of governments jailing people for political reasons. Australian filmmaker James Ricketson got a six-year sentence simply because the Cambodian government doesn’t like dissent, then two Reuters journalists in Myanmar got seven years for revealing state secrets – the secrets being the atrocities committed by the Myanmar military against its Muslim minority. And it’s not long since Australian journalist Peter Greste (“Speaking for freedom”, September 8–14)served time for allegedly damaging Egyptian national security, despite a lack of evidence against him. But these are all “developing countries”. We don’t do that sort of thing. Or do we? In the near future the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions will be demanding the conviction of a Commonwealth employee and his solicitor for an offence carrying a prison sentence. They are charged with revealing state secrets, the secret being an act of bastardry by the Australian government in bugging the office of the Timor-Leste government while they were negotiating the ownership of gas and oil fields in the Timor Sea in 2004. And the government is doing its best to keep this shameful act a secret: a trial in closed court, and a media blackout. We should thank Andrew Wilkie, MP, for his courageous speech in parliament, revealing that the Australian government is acting just like those of Egypt, Cambodia and Myanmar.
– Richie Gun, Brighton, SA
The postwar novel Love in a Cold Climate is a story of three young women’s search for love, but in Mike Seccombe’s article “Love for a coal climate” (September 8–14), the story is about three Australian cabinet ministers and their relationship with coal and climate. Sadly, it is nonfiction. The main characters are Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Energy Minister Angus Taylor and Environment Minister Melissa Price. Morrison is, of course, notorious for fondling a lump of coal in Australia’s parliament. Taylor has quickly declared that he has no interest in climate policy, and Price has refused to acknowledge the threat posed by climate change. It makes fascinating reading, but this is no small issue. When Australia’s coal and gas exports are included, this nation is a very significant global carbon polluter, and its politicians need to accept that decisive action on climate change is both urgent and morally imperative. Our European Union trading nations know this, as do Pacific Island nations who see it as an existential issue. These parties rightly expect that Australia’s notoriously weak emission reduction commitments to the Paris climate accord be honoured. Meanwhile, while these ministers revere coal and other fossil fuels, and while they may believe in the power of prayer, they would also be well advised to consider the idea of an economy-wide price on carbon.
– David Nash, Manly, NSW
Well done, Geoff Pryor, on your cartoon “We decided we’d cut out the middle man”, September 8–14). It appears that Nanny McPhee is desperately needed to deal with the behaviour of COALition MPs. These “adults” seem to have forgotten why they are in parliament, and who is employing them. In a recent interview, Emma Thompson declared that she felt no need for any memorials after her passing. But a statue of Nanny McPhee would be perfect.
– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW
Karen Middleton has again shone a light on the LNP government’s aversion to accountability (“Out of commission”, September 8–14) by highlighting their defunding and destruction of public access to information. They have also spent an inordinate amount of money to block FOI requests. In another article (Mike Seccombe, “How the Murdoch press ran Turnbull from his office”, September 1–7) it was revealed that 56 per cent of Australians identified the Australian government as being the “most broken” of our institutions. The most obvious remedy to regaining public trust and mending our “most broken” institution is to set up a permanent federal Independent Commission Against Corruption, yet both our major political parties have refused to support the Greens’ call for one. Why are they afraid of being held accountable?
– Joy Ringrose, Pomona, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 15, 2018. Subscribe here.