Trapped in the politics of fear
Two weeks out from the last election it was difficult to put money on the Coalition to win. However, combative fear-based arguments targeted at the working class saying life was all about the economy and you couldn’t trust Labor to manage it turned the tide. In this election this argument is again strident and the fear of job security, the increasing cost of living and housing crises are the concrete experiences of Australians, many of whom have yet to decide how to vote. The situation of fear manipulation is characterised in the battle for the Hunter region, and the Nationals’ argument they are the only party capable of saving coal jobs (Marian Wilkinson, “How Nationals and lobbyists play the new climate wars”, May 7-13). This message is reinforced by current and proposed mine closures and Labor’s complex climate policy based on a confusing safeguard coal output mechanism. Fear of community decline, job loss and economic survival trump future-based arguments of industrial reform, renewable industries, retraining and other energy transition programs in working-class seats. If Labor doesn’t articulate that current jobs will be protected together with an industrial revolution, they may be gone again.
– David Wilson, Newport, Qld
Some optimism on climate
Marian Wilkinson finds that a network of the coal industry, federal politicians – especially Nationals and their Institute of Public Affairs supporters – and coalminers want to continue with coal. So the climate change crisis is still unsolved, and much as Wilkinson found it in her book The Carbon Club. Meantime, climate science and the United Nations are demanding ever more urgent climate action. They warn greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 in order to try to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit. So here the change must happen in the next government’s term. Several developments may help, including the New South Wales Coalition’s push for renewable energy zones and Mike Cannon-Brookes becoming an anti-coal shareholder in AGL. Plus the election, in which the new government may well have a solid body of climate-determined MPs. Stay tuned...
– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic
The Greens showing the way
Congratulations to Mike Seccombe for his analysis of Greens leader Adam Bandt’s exposure of what the major parties are afraid to face: Australia can still afford fee-free tertiary education, mental and dental Medicare, increased public housing and much more, simply by appropriately increasing taxation of the obscenely rich (“The Bandt interview: what the Greens are promising”, May 7-13). Billy Hughes was fond of declaring “one bloody man, one bloody vote” but we spinelessly deny this democratic ideal while we tolerate the unrestrained vote-buying power of grossly unconscionable wealthy individuals and corporations.
– Lyall Chittleborough, Ironbank, SA
Hip pocket trumps other concerns
Richard Denniss’s article (“Inside the ‘cargo cult’ campaign”, May 7-13) explores the possibility that our prime minister is destroying the faith of his party’s loyal followers in what used to be safe city seats. Given recent polling and the rise of independents, this certainly looks to be the case, but like all arguments there is another side. The PM, despite his manifold sins and wickedness, is good at electioneering, and his promises of more coalmines and fracking ventures will resonate with those voters and indeed anyone who is unemployed, a group much larger than the official figure, especially in rural regions. So while polls show Australians are most concerned about climate change and political integrity, this is eclipsed by the need for financial security, a dream promised by both sides of politics even though they both intend to return to high immigration levels that will keep a lid on wage demands and maintain the housing price spiral.
– Don Owers, Dudley, NSW
BPD diagnosis and stigma
As a psychologist I was moved by Jane Caro’s account of a hospital for female trauma survivors, and the experiences of Karen Williams’ patient Bianca (“The woman who would not give up”, May 7-13). The diagnosis of borderline personality disorder is not only clinically disrespectful, it can also prejudice an abuse survivor’s chances of keeping her children safe or keeping them at all. My colleagues and I have worked with many clients whose complex post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms have led to their well-founded concerns about an ex-partner’s abuse of the children being discounted by child protection authorities because of the mother’s perceived BPD. It is part of a wider pattern of abuse survivors being seen as hysterical, attention-seeking and troublesome rather than being understood and cared for. I wish Dr Williams all success in getting the BPD diagnosis retired in favour of complex PTSD. And I hope hospitals like Ramsay Clinic will be established everywhere. (We could do with several in Victoria.)
– Danny Neumann, Port Melbourne, Vic
You feel out of control, beset by intrusive memories and unable to function. It’s a position of extreme vulnerability with complex PTSD. The revelation that a safe and healing place for women only will open in August at Thirroul, south of Sydney, is heartening news for women who present again and again at mental health hospitals.
– Pam Connor, South Brighton, SA
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 14, 2022.
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