Letters to
the editor

Gas fields worsen climate change

Rick Morton correctly identifies a range of reasons why gas should not be extracted from the Beetaloo Basin (“Nerve fracking”, December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021). A more fundamental problem would be its contribution to global climate change. Using Origin’s estimate of the Beetaloo gas reserves and a realistic projection of likely leakage from gas wells, I calculated last year that extracting and burning the gas could release up to 85 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. That is more than double the current annual global emissions of greenhouse gases, well over 100 times our Australian domestic contribution to the problem this year. The United Nations has called for responsible governments to declare a climate emergency. Allowing huge gas fields would be an act of criminal irresponsibility.

– Ian Lowe, Marcoola, Qld

Left vulnerable by dependence

The front-page story on the trade war with China (December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021) has Michael Wesley asking, “Can the relationship be salvaged?” Perhaps a better question to ask is: Should we salvage a relationship that has left us so vulnerable? Our obsession with free trade has come at the expense of self-sufficiency and, as Professor Wesley points out, the sudden interruption of trade through sanctions, pandemics or climate change will hit us hard, especially when we have high dependence on just one trading partner. Much the same situation occurred during World War II and then when Britain joined the European Union and left us to find new markets for our food products. But at that time we did have a much wider economic base, including a manufacturing industry that shielded us from potential shortages of vital products. Now we have such high demand for manufactured products, ones we largely pay for with non-renewable resources, that our mining, agriculture and energy supplies are at risk from any interruption. Yes, our governments have been too keen to follow the American policy, but surely becoming less tolerant of China’s human rights abuse, technology theft, cyber attacks and aggressive actions is commendable.

– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW

Sinophobia at play

The trajectory of the Australia–China relationship as outlined by Professor Wesley (“How the China relationship collapsed”, December 12-18, 2020) continues, in my opinion, to be impacted by historical amnesias. Notwithstanding the interludes of optimism, pragmatism and antagonism that have characterised the relationship, the panda in the room of potential coexistence has been an unwillingness – on the part of Australians – to acknowledge centuries-old phobias and injustices. The red herring that Chinese communism is the fly in the harmony ointment fails to admit Australia’s role, as an affiliate of the British Empire/Commonwealth, in past humiliations of China and the Chinese: the seizure of Hong Kong, the treaty ports rort, post-1949 non-recognition and so forth. And yet, all the while, as it continues to date, it was China’s magnitude that was feared. No, Senator Abetz, it is not communism that strains our bonds, it is Sinophobia, pure and simple.

– Peter Doelle, Mount Gambier, SA

Insightful storytelling

I am writing to heartily thank The Saturday Paper for publishing Melissa Lucashenko’s recent short story, “A saltwater to watch” (December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021). Brilliant clarity in writing from the interpreted perspective of a saltwater man interacting with the invaders on Country at the dawning of our conflicted and still retrograde settler society – deeply insightful and masterfully recounted. Being familiar with the various accounts of Tom Petrie – not quite so benevolent as oft depicted through rose-coloured spectacles of colonial romanticism – herewith an excellent and most compelling counterweight. May there be more to come in 2021.

– Ellie Bock, Mena Creek, Qld

Poetry emotion

Maxine Beneba Clarke has excelled herself in this magnificent poem (“fire moves faster”, December 19, 2020–January 22, 2021) that I hope people will read aloud as it captures our extraordinary Covid-19 year, month by month. Thank you for publishing it.

– Ruth Latukefu, Newport, NSW

Mungo’s puzzles live on

Like everyone, I was devastated to learn of Mungo MacCallum’s passing and mortified that his backlog of crosswords in The Saturday Paper (The Cryptic) will dry up in March. This would create, I thought, a huge hole in we cruciverbalists’ weekend routines. But behold! All 330+ of Mungo’s puzzles from the paper’s inception on March 1, 2014, are downloadable from this paper’s home page – 165 of which appeared before I subscribed. That means (at one crossword per weekend) I will be puzzling over them until way into 2024 before I arrive at puzzles I have done before. It is a well-known fact that cryptic crossword freaks, despite their intense intellectual powers, have been known to sit through many a puzzle before realising they have done it before, in which case I will have enough to last me for the next six-plus years. By then I may well have reached the stage that I can start again from scratch and they will appear as fresh as if they were created only yesterday. Mungo may have left us – but his cryptics will never die.

– Fred Wild, Rye, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 23, 2021.

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