Letters to
the editor

Transparency essential

Mike Seccombe documents the travesty that sees grants handed out on criteria that mostly don’t include need or merit (“Berejiklian ‘rorts’ nothing on the Morrison government’s”, November 6-12). Former senior public servant Michael Keating criticises the current practices and includes the statement: “Of course ministers should have discretion in how public money is spent.” This is a sentiment I have seen many times, but I challenge it. Ministers should have the discretion to establish the criteria. We will continue to enable pork-barrelling unless we have public disclosure of the criteria and disclosure of compliance to the criteria from successful applicants.

– Michael Angley, Moonee Ponds, Vic

A flawed process is Berejiklian’s legacy

Mike Seccombe’s review of Gladys Berejiklian’s presentation to the Independent Commission Against Corruption and her belief that rorts are “fair game” in the political process defies credulity. Her business-as-usual attitude also implies the electorate agrees with her. Without the surgical knife of ICAC and good journalism, we may still be in the dark, or complacent, about this insidious aspect of government, which is not the cheerful indifference of a blithe spirit portrayed at ICAC. The offspring of rorts are sinecure and nepotism, leading to fear and social control of the public service over the evidence-based advice and decisions essential for good government. The attitudes of the rorts process also pervade other government programs and policies, most notably climate change, with policy vested in coal, oil and gas and reliant on pie-in-the-sky scientific futures. Seccombe’s review describes principle-free politics and grim times ahead unless the Morrison government is ousted. But will Labor and the independents be capable of political rehabilitation?       

– David Wilson, Newport, Qld

Piecemeal efforts without a plan

The Mineral Carbonation International (MCi) process for capturing carbon and using it in building materials is one of many stunning technologies appearing almost daily in news services (Karen Middleton, “Warmed-over targets”, November 6-12). But the frequencyand speed of such announcements makes them little more than entertainment without a rollout plan – we are globally cursed with governments that refuse to even contemplate the notion of planning and doing. The International Energy Agency estimates that we need 200 gigafactories producing batteries for electric vehicles by 2030, otherwise all the talk of EVs will just be “blah blah”, to echo Greta Thunberg. Who will build them? VW is planning four to six of them. Perhaps 30 are at various stages of raising finance (in addition to the 10 we already have). That’s simply too slow, which is the intrinsic problem of market-based approaches to big problems. If you want fast, then you need to emulate nationalisation and the war efforts of the 1940s, when governments actively planned and directed. Which is exactly how large companies work today. Amazon plans, Walmart plans. Every large transport company plans. Planning is hard and not always successful, but non-planning is a guaranteed path to failure.

– Geoff Russell, St Morris, SA

Economic expertise doesn’t add up

I despair when I read that economic management remains Scott Morrison’s “significant weapon” (Karen Middleton, “Trust issues”, November 6-12). He represents the mob that, for example, blew the resources boom windfall in tax cuts; flogged our LPG at bargain-basement prices; wasted $40 billion in unnecessary JobKeeper largesse; delivered an overbudget, third-rate NBN; and excluded many Australians from home ownership. Where to stop? If the Labor Party and mainstream media are incapable or unwilling to expose the patent myth of Coalition economic expertise, Australia is in big trouble and the prime minister will continue to wear that smug smirk, knowing he has pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks of the century.

– Norman Huon, Port Melbourne, Vic

Inaction on climate change

In assessing our PM’s competence, John Hewson criticises Morrison’s use of slogans instead of policy, lack of an adequate emissions reduction 2030 target, lack of “long-term strategic thinking” on climate change and security, and overriding desire to win elections (“Three-word Monte”, November 6-12). Given that the world is at a critical point, it is outrageous that the Morrison government is defying the International Energy Agency’s warning against new fossil fuels. At COP26 Morrison refused to sign the leaders’ pledges against methane and coal, and our team presented a model of how carbon capture and storage is supposed to work. Australia won three shameful Fossils of the Day awards. The Morrison government has also failed to progress on other issues, including an integrity commission, and has wasted billions of dollars in JobKeeper and fossil fuel subsidies.

– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic

PM shows limited vision

I thought John Hewson’s conclusion regarding Scott Morrison – that his “problem is he can’t see past the next election” – is much, much too charitable. I doubt whether Morrison can see beyond the 24-hour news cycle.

– David Godden, Tamworth, NSW

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 November 13, 2021.

A free press is one you pay for. Now is the time to subscribe.