Letters to
the editor

Black comedy is no longer funny

Reading Mike Seccombe’s account “The man behind Scott Morrison’s climate pact” (November 12-19), you begin to wonder if some synonym of “dishonest” wouldn’t be a better descriptor of our present government than sapiens. If accorded the sort of unquestioned authority that conservative governments have generally striven for, our present lot have indicated they would turn climate matters over to vested interests, which include some of their own number. While this would clearly be disastrous for our species and others, it fails to counterbalance their more intense desire for the sort of dominance that great wealth can provide in the absence of any moral and intellectual authority. While Brian Fisher’s million equations may not answer the obvious questions in Angus Taylor’s, and Mr Morrison’s, tortured reasoning, clues may be inferred from a film made more than 50 years ago about an utter scoundrel who rose, solely by hook and crook, to become the ruler of Britain, The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer. It seemed funny at the time.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Defamation law and rough justice

An excellent story by Bri Lee (“Uneven justice”, November 12-19). The imbalance between plaintiff and respondent in such matters is blatant and intentional. Such cases are basically saying: “You have hurt my feelings; I want your house.” (Apologies to Michael West, who said this.) This is using the law for financial advantage by people who are advantaged in many ways, including the capacity to fund – from the public purse, directly or in kind, such litigious adventures. However, it is not as bad as that. It is far worse. Consider those who attempt to represent themselves because Legal Aid has been gutted. They are lambs fed to the wolves of a legal system where the plaintiff has overwhelming advantage evoking the perception of unconscious bias on the part of the judge.

– Stephen Masters, Chiltern, Vic

Howard’s way on NBN

Laurie Patton’s article (“Net losses”, November 13-19) was very informative, but the NBN debacle belongs to former prime minister John Howard. Despite advice to the contrary, it was Howard who insisted on including infrastructure in the sale of Telstra assets. But for his hubris we would have had optical fibre to the curb (FTTC) years ago because Telstra would have completed replacing all copper wire as part of its ongoing system maintenance and upgrading. It had already started replacing the trunk wire when Howard forced the sell-off decision through cabinet.

– John F. Simmons, Kambah, ACT

Australia wants climate action

Whatever happened to the Australian government’s former insistence that its model to reduce emissions should be what the rest of the world was doing but not until it was doing it? That there was no sense in acting prematurely or unilaterally ahead of the pack? If even the United States and China can manage to agree at Glasgow COP26 that “on climate, co-operation is the only way to get this job done”, as Jonathan Pearlman reports (World, “US and China agree to co-operate on climate”, November 13-19), it’s time Scott Morrison recognised that the spin cycle will no longer wash with voters: commitment and action are needed. Instead the government still behaves like a child asking, “Are we there yet?”

– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic

Keep it simple

Scott Morrison’s apology for a climate change policy is the meaningless, commitment-free “Technology not taxes”. As someone who weathered the Brexit and Boris Johnson years in Britain I can assure John Hewson (“Three-word Monte”, November 6-12) that the three-word slogan, repeated endlessly, and often plastered all over a very large bus, with social media saturation, is what passes for a winning campaign today. Think Dominic Cummings’ “Take back control”, Theresa May’s “Strong and stable”, Johnson’s “Get Brexit done”. Think “Stop the boats”. The successful past campaigns of Howard, Abbott, Johnson and Morrison involved Australian and New Zealand strategists including Lynton Crosby, Isaac Levido and New Zealanders Ben Guerin and Sean Topham. The not very politically engaged average voter is easy prey for these arch manipulators of language and media offering simple solutions to complex problems. Along with fossil fuels and refugee offshore detention, this appears to be another of our dubious exports.

– Lesley Walker, Gordon, NSW

An engaging contribution

What a joy it was to turn the page to Morris Gleitzman’s “Carnival of schadenfreude” (November 13-19), an insightful, inventive television review in the wise and witty tradition of Clive James and A. A. Gill. More please!

– Paul McCarthy, Ashwood, 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 November 20, 2021.

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