Energy for change
Mike Seccombe’s important survey of our conga line of energy policy flip-flops (“2050 net zero: Australia left behind as Asia goes green”, January 30–February 5) makes sobering reading. As if the PM’s latest half-hearted embrace of the target of zero carbon emissions “as soon as possible, and preferably by 2050” isn’t depressing enough, it follows Labor’s reshuffle kerfuffle that banished the strongest opposition advocate of realistic climate action. Exactly what positive message should we take from all this? If China and Japan can throw the switch to green energy on a massive scale, and if Joe Biden can reverse the United States’ Trumpian dystopia with the stroke of a pen, what’s stopping our politicians? Coal and gas are finite resources; their days are numbered. Australia is so handsomely endowed with alternative clean energy options that any canny marketer should be able to achieve bipartisan support for such clear advantages for the health of the environment and the economy. What seems to be lacking is someone with the guts to make it happen.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Coalition’s gas cloud
After years of our federal government’s intransigence with respect to climate change, how totally uplifting it was to read Mike Seccombe’s article about the phasing out of fossil fuels by the largest purchasers of our thermal coal and gas. It would appear that there is hope on the horizon by which the rise in the Earth’s temperature can be limited to 2 degrees. The only drawback to this is that, with its focus on gas, the Morrison government is not encouraging Australian companies to invest in renewable energy, the production of hydrogen and the transition to electric vehicles. However, the states seem to be making up for the feds’ inaction and entrepreneurs such as Twiggy Forrest and Mike Cannon-Brookes are planning to capitalise on the huge opportunities available with our ample solar energy. It seems that we may well continue to be the “Lucky Country”.
– Peter Nash, Fairlight, NSW
Taking on big tech
Royce Kurmelovs’ intriguing story about the media bargaining code (“Why pay the papers when you can call the tune?”, January 30–February 5) highlights Google and Facebook’s concern about the creation of global precedent. Any form of democratic accountability is anathema to these goliaths. Whatever one makes of the government’s clumsy attempt to tilt the playing field back towards the struggling legacy media, the tech giants’ sabre rattling should send a chill down our collective spines. The opacity of their algorithms combined with a credulous public sphere represents a massive challenge for democracy. A decade ago, Kevin Rudd’s mining super-profits tax, and his prime ministership, was killed off by a couple of billionaires in high-vis shouting expropriation from the barricades, with the aid of an ageing media mogul. What will happen when someone seriously threatens big tech’s interests?
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Students lose in casualisation
Ellen Smith is correct when she highlights the appalling manner in which institutes of higher education treat casual academic staff (“Casual wage theft par for the course”, January 30–February 5). What is also of concern is the often poor learning outcomes. While many casuals are enthusiastic and well-intentioned (and do a good job) there are many who are not experienced or trained in andragogy and do not provide students with the best learning experience. A little less spent on bloated salaries for ineffectual executives and more on the core business would see Australian universities in a much better place.
– David Spencer, Balwyn, Vic
Freedom at what cost?
“Blessed release” by Elle Marsh (January 30–February 5) is indeed a blessing. It also illustrates Peter Dutton and his government’s continuous ignominy and abuse of a human right to seek asylum. To read the development of the relationship between Ramsiyar Sabanayagam and Don Khan and their circumstances exalts their humanity. In doing so it offers a lesson for all of us to dig deep within ourselves. The lies and “bluff” of Mr Dutton should no longer be tolerated; it is obscene. As mentioned by the advocates for the asylum seekers, the possibility that the Australian Open was one reason for their release is also obscene and demonstrates the warped thinking of this government. Sadly the path to freedom is still a broken thread for both men and other asylum seekers.
– Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley, Vic
The problem with boxing
It is heartening to see that most of the contact sports have recognised the blunt truth that concussion is brain injury and have introduced changes to try to prevent it (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “A lasting impact”, January 30–February 5). Repeated trauma even without concussion, such as being punched in the head, also causes brain injury. Which leaves us with boxing, about which there seems to be a deathly silence (pun intended) in the media and medical profession. The prime objective is the knockout, which is a concussion. Which is a brain injury. And yet we continue to have this activity. Young people attempting to brain damage their opponents. And that is just the physical damage. The other part of it is teaching young people that something can be “won” by punching someone else in the face.
– Charlie Carter, Alice Springs, NT
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 6, 2021.
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