Consumers’ part in climate change
Thank you, Marian Wilkinson, for highlighting the Australian government’s obscurantist response (“How the gas lobby captured Morrison’s Glasgow response”, October 30–November 5) to what is being proposed on the world stage. Whether we are laggards in the “net-zero” drive or not, one aspect of the climate deliberations is continually being ignored – that of equity. If the planet is at tipping point with a couple of billion of us consuming stuff at the rate we are, what of the six billion not yet consuming, or the two billion that will be added to our statistics by 2050? Are they to be denied a two-car household, international vacations, airconditioning, designer clothes, concrete buildings, leisure time, asphalt highways, convenience foods et cetera? No matter what net-zero-oriented technological breakthroughs eventuate, does the affluent world have the ethical right to deny the six billion their share of affluence? If 1.5 degrees is key, then, in the interests of equity, let the climate forums mandate we halve our consumption.
– Peter Doelle, Mount Gambier, SA
Indigenous Australians let down by courts
The killing of an Aboriginal woman by police has established once again that our courts are operating as intended – purely for the benefit of white people (Jesse Noakes, “A cop can shoot a person in cold blood and get away with it...”, October 30–November 5). A judicial system devised, implemented and administered by white people has denied justice to First Australians for far too long. Many can relate to the words of Bob Dylan who felt “ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game”. With monotonous regularity the all-white jury continues to protect their own.
– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic
Inspired by 81 Welfare Avenue
I am so glad that you have John Hewson writing for The Saturday Paper. His story in response to Pru Goward’s slur (“81 Welfare Avenue”, October 30–November 5) was revelatory and inspirational. An example of the talent that, due to various reasons, including mental health, remains untapped among the so-called proles, or proletariat, of society. It is why more effort needs to be made to create opportunities and raise the standard of services, particularly in the area of health and education, but also with affordable housing, more accessible public transport and a Centrelink system that is there to provide much broader services to those needing a job. I too grew up a prole or a pleb. We were poor too at various times, but it was education and training that lifted my parents from that background and this was impressed on me. I feel vindicated when I read articles from the likes of John Hewson, a decent, highly intelligent, successful and compassionate person who has never forgotten his roots. But we need a society and leaders in government to be prepared to provide help as much as possible, and John has reminded us of this.
– Robert Cooper, Windsor, Qld
A familiar story of the working class
Reading John Hewson’s article in The Saturday Paper this morning, I stopped and started again, reading it out loud to my wife. When I finished reading the second paragraph, I looked up to see tears were running down her face and tears welled up in my eyes. I think it is his most impressive article. My wife and I both grew up in the 1940s and 1950s in Balmain, then a working-class industrial suburb of Sydney. Both of us in a three-bedroom home holding three generations of Catholics. Thanks to our parents and grandparents, we and our children are much better off than they were, but I do not think any of us have forgotten the aphorism: “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
– John F. Simmons, Kambah, ACT
Striving for a better life
I read John Hewson’s candid and deeply personal reflection on his family’s story of struggle, survival and close-knit affection with heartfelt affinity. He is right to state that poverty and disadvantage are very real challenges in our country. And for a former minister for Family and Community Services in the New South Wales Liberal government, Pru Goward, to express such disrespect for the inestimable value of each life exerting bravely to overcome intergenerational disadvantage and poverty in order to make life better for their own and their children’s dignity is sadly lacking in the bonds that tie us together as human beings. Instead of focusing on power and privilege, those elected to serve all of us should perhaps reflect on what is of real value to a just society.
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Pru Goward’s empathy bypass
John Hewson’s early life in Sydney highlights the ups and downs of many Australians now reaching their 80s. He is right in that successive governments have neglected the poor. Poverty is never a choice, it is thrust upon many by circumstances beyond their control. Loss of employment, credit squeezes, absconding husbands and myriad other reasons can cause families to be plunged into poverty. Meanwhile, we have state and federal governments shoring up their electoral prospects with taxpayers’ money in the form of pork barrelling instead of providing much-needed social housing. Pru Goward is partly responsible for this neglect when she held ministerial positions in the NSW government.
– Diana Plowman, Wellington Point, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 6, 2021.
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