In his article “The complacent country” (August 31-September 6) I thought Kevin Rudd offered a slightly different perspective on the left–right divide in Australian politics. He suggested that the left should provide a national identity with an eye to the future, whereas the right was buried in the past. Certainly past Labor federal governments, such as those led by Ben Chifley, Gough Whitlam and Bob Hawke, displayed great vision and provided Australia with a very positive identity. Indeed Rudd’s suggestion that “Climate change is the great moral challenge of our generation” was a visionary statement. It is a pity that it failed to gain traction. At the federal election the Coalition promised to preserve the status quo without really defining what that was. I am still keenly awaiting the rollout of the Morrison government’s “fair go for those that have a go” policy. As for Labor, well, Australia really does need to reduce its dependency on coal but, of course, those people currently employed in the coal industry need alternative employment. A positive vision is required here.
– Douglas Richards, Rosanna, Vic
What of your apathy, Kevin Rudd?
Kevin Rudd’s “The complacent country” is so typical of the platitudes of this failed politician and, in fact, prime minister. “Our challenge is to sound the alarums and so turn our national politics around” is a laughable statement from someone who, given every opportunity, failed in everything but his platitudes. For a leader who won the right to change the course of this country to say Australians risk becoming “a people increasingly overwhelmed, confused and frightened” is completely disingenuous of the spirit of the people who, across successive governments of the past 20 years, including his, have been bullied and divided by lies, secrecy, fearmongering and scare campaigns and, then, by incessant legislation to prevent us knowing, arguing, disputing and protesting. Governments that in truth have shown little to no regard for our Indigenous people and their rights, culture, beliefs – all of which seem to have fallen to a pervasive Christian ethic that mocks its very core principles in its treatment of refugees or asylum seekers, its attitude to gender diversity, its misogyny, xenophobia and excessive self-interest in its legislative and representative houses. Australia has always been parochial, Kevin, but its isolationism, protectionism and nationalism are born of the past 20 years of politicians pushing wealth into ever fewer hands, greater struggles for the majority and poverty for too many. How can our representatives condemn the human rights abuses of our biggest trading partner when we mimic them in our treatment of difference, in our surveillance, in our rights to free speech and our rights to freedom of information? You could have given Australia more than an apology to our First Nations peoples, though even that was more platitude than substance. You had the opportunity to make this a better place; the apathy is yours and the many others who lead this country. Own it.
– Ian Ossher, Dover Heights, NSW
Taxpayers paying for Adani mine
Many people are concerned about what Adani’s Carmichael mine may lead to (Anna Krien, “Part one: Inside the Adani blockade”, August 31-September 6). According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the federal and Queensland governments will grant $4.4 billion in capital subsidies, tax exemptions and deferrals, plus a seven-year royalties “holiday”, to Adani’s Carmichael coalmine project. Most of the funding will come from the federal government, which will claim a mandate for such generosity with taxpayers’ money, but taxpayers were neither informed nor consulted on this issue before the May 18 election. If the Adani mine opens, six more coalmines in the Galilee Basin are set to follow. In addition, coal from the Carmichael mine will further boost global warming when we should be reining it in.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
And down we go
Mike Seccombe’s delving into the decades-long wealth suction pump that is the excess skimming off of profits is timely (“No pay, no gain”, August 31-September 6). Labour productivity may have recently stalled, relatively, but has nonetheless been rising for decades. Wages share has been ever more lagging behind profit share in this period. In this environment what’s not understood generally, and by many economists as well, is that targeted fiscal spending will be essential to counteract the upcoming contraction, just as it did in 2008-09. In this context, pursuit of surplus, which the government seems intent on, is pro-contractionary. The deficit itself is just a figure denoting as-yet-uncollected taxes. It is not an amount to be retired or paid back. That is the language of currency users, not currency issuers, which the federal government is. This is yet to be absorbed more widely, right up to economics advisory-wonk level. Until it is, hold on tight; we’re on the roller-coaster of policy-induced slump.
– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW
Gadfly and the marquis
Richard Ackland highlights the University of Queensland and the Ramsayites and pinpoints the chosen study of the Enlightenment and the Marquis de Sade (“Ramsay tweak”, August 31-September 6). Well, de Sade was a novelist, not part of that vital intellectual movement. And if our current political leaders could follow the teachings of Voltaire, Diderot, David Hume et cetera and the scientists among the Encylopédistes, the world would be a better place. They certainly don’t fit in with Wollongong’s myopic political intentions.
– Edward Black, Church Point, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Sep 7, 2019.
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