Letters to
the editor

Change for the better?

It was dismaying to read Anthony Albanese’s vague and platitudinous vows of a new beginning (Karen Middleton, “Starting again: the Albanese interview”, June 1-7). What many are desperately but quietly hoping for is an opposition that makes use of the crushing advantage it enjoys in most areas of factual evidence. The most obvious is climate change, where Bill Shorten did little more than recite those two words while the PM feigned deafness. Others are franking credits which, Labor failed to remind us, can reasonably be described as multibillion-dollar pork barrelling of public money from a former Liberal government to their own demographic, not to mention the nine-figure extravagance of exemplary injustice in offshore detention. Then there are the up-yours ministry appointments of Angus Taylor to Environment and Stuart Robert to public service reform. Parliament needs informed debate, not another huckster competition.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Science is against Adani

I was shocked by a comment made by Anthony Albanese in his interview with Karen Middleton. He criticised some anti-Adani protesters who demand government override the mine, dubbing them inconsistent Twitter warriors who argue that politics should trump science when it suits them. It is very worrying that the new Labor leader apparently is unaware of the science. The IPCC report, released last October, makes the science very clear. For there to be any chance of limiting warming to the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius target, electricity production must be fully decarbonised by 2050. This disqualifies all the proposed mines in the Galilee Basin, as they would all supply thermal coal well into the second half of this century.

– Ken Russell, Redcliffe, Qld

Government largesse

Fifty billion dollars in untendered contracts dished out in the two months leading up to the election (Michael West, “Taking care of business”, May 25-31). How crooked is Australia?

– Cathy Gill, Bronte, NSW

Perception payback for Labor

The previous government was seen to have had a “problem with women”. Farmers complained about the effects of climate change. Young people complained about housing affordability and lack of action on climate change. Families complained about childcare costs. So, where were they on election day? Someone voted for this government. It couldn’t have just been city-dwelling, single male baby boomers – there’s not enough of them. Labor’s policies were clear. They weren’t too difficult to understand. And they were costed. The problem is the public’s perception of Labor. Of course, there is snobbery (“I’m better than working class”) and “conservatives are born to rule”, but there are other factors as well. For example, during the election the prime minister claimed the Coalition were better economic managers. Yet a quick evaluation of governments since World War II shows the opposite is probably true. The claim was never questioned. Why? Even if Labor’s economic policies haven’t been better than the Coalition’s, they certainly haven’t been worse. (Note: Australia has had two treasurers awarded “World’s Best Treasurer”. Guess who?) Labor has the people and the policies, what they don’t have is the public’s respect.

– John Duffield, Yarra Glen, Vic

Watch and wait, Albo

Post-election, the hindsight wisdom brigade rediscovered the aspirationals who, they theorised, regarded Labor as too great a risk. The clarion call now is for Labor to change and become Liberal-light to win over these voters. This commentary is missing the fact that there are two types of aspirational – the economic and the environmental. For the latter, Labor policies address climate change and inequality and drew their support. They would regard abandoning these policies as a big disappointment and a mistake. Labor should stick to its principles, do nothing and wait. Australia’s prosperity is paper-thin. A recession is on the horizon and when it arrives it will test how good the Coalition really is at economic management. If unemployment and the property market continue the current downward trajectories, the economic aspirationals will be baying for Coalition blood, such is their lack of fidelity.

– Bernie O’Kane, Heidelberg, Vic

Ending hope for asylum seekers

Thank you, Kon Karapanagiotidis and Jana Favero, for the article “Saving lives” (June 1-7). Sadly since this article, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is stirring up more trouble claiming one boat has come from Sri Lanka and very quickly the 20 refugees were taken to Christmas Island and found not to be refugees and returned. Now he is visiting Sri Lanka when he should be visiting and witnessing firsthand the men on Manus Island, in distress since the election, with 40 suicide attempts. It is astounding and shameful that this government and the former one don’t see it, as Kon and many other humane people do, as a “shameful chapter in our nation’s history”. It is sickening that this government will repeal the medivac bill. Part of a note from a refugee on Manus Island who attempted suicide reads, “I can’t go on any longer, everything has gone from me, my lovely youth and age, and love and happiness and I have become worthless, broken and useless.”

– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic

Photographer’s freedom of expression

What arrogance of John Buckley to write “decorated artists should feel inclined to either comment on or reflect diversity within their work” (“White Anglo lens”, June 1-7). Why should they? Bill Henson is an artist not a social commentator and the beauty of his work shouldn’t be constrained or defined by political correctness, as the 2008 exhibition well demonstrated. I may be slightly visually impaired but not all the figures in the exhibition were “milky white” and who cares anyway. It was transforming to absorb and enjoy such visual mastery in the photographic medium.

– Carolyn Pettigrew, Turramurra, NSW

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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 8, 2019.

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