John Hewson is right: all advisable roads lead towards Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower (“Super-powering Australia”, July 16-22). Savvy, progressive visionaries like Saul Griffith have repeatedly outlined and justified the environmental, health and economic incentives of the clean-energy revolution. Further, as Hewson states: “Australia has a sizeable responsibility as a major exporter and subsidiser of fossil fuels.” The moral case for Australia to act on climate is now overwhelming and urgent. Human ingenuity, scientific advancement, collaboration and optimism must overcome doubt, rigidity and political ideology. To enable a peaceful, prosperous future, Australia should grab this chance to plug ourselves back in and sit in the global green spotlight.
– Amy Hiller, Kew, Vic
The price of efficiency
John Hewson writes that “the most cost-effective response to the climate challenge would be to put a price on carbon”. Indeed, carbon pricing is the most efficient policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive clean innovation. It need not be painful if a carbon fee and dividend (CFD) scheme is introduced. Australia could emulate the Canadian system where the carbon price comes with a revenue-neutral rebate to all citizens in the provinces where the pricing system applies. For the 2022-23 fiscal year, a family of four will receive climate action incentive quarterly payments of $C745 in Ontario, $832 in Manitoba, $1101 in Saskatchewan and $1079 in Alberta. Those in rural areas will get 10 per cent more. The system encourages people to adopt low-carbon lifestyles, such as by replacing gas heaters with a heat pump, or replacing their car run on fossil fuels with an electric car. The Albanese government should seriously consider CFD.
– Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
The burning truth
Karen Middleton’s excellent piece (“Fighting fire”, July 16-22) has revealed the bald truth. Bushfire fighting and prescribed burning has become a self-perpetuating industry skewed by entrenched vested interests. The burning programs are driven more by blind fear, exciting flame heights and a quest for bigger burn areas than by good science. The simple truth is hazard-reduction burning only ever treats the ground fuels and does nothing to reduce the threat posed by most house-destroying catastrophic bushfires, which skip beyond control through the treetops or launch as ember-generated spot fires carried by the wind, miles ahead of the flame front. In many instances, such as in moist sclerophyll forests of the New South Wales north coast, regular prescribed burning increases fire risk by destroying the rainforest understorey, replacing it with short-lived, fire tolerant vegetation, opening the ground to sunlight and drying out the forest. Our biodiversity and precious forest ecosystems are the greatest losers.
– Martin Smith, Fernbrook, NSW
Teals offer hope
Your editorial (“Mutually assured corruption,” July 16-22) lays bare the mire into which our politics has sunk. This is why the teal independents represent such an important entry into federal parliament. These MPs are cleanskins: they have been recruited by and from their communities to work in common cause for substantial, long-term reforms – climate change action, a federal ICAC, safety and equality for women. For these MPs politics is a genuine calling: a welcome change to those who see politics as “a period to be endured in exchange for a pension and a plum job”. The teal independents bring hope for our democracy. They stood against incumbents not because they were Liberals, but because they were in government and failed to deliver. It will be Labor candidates who are held to account at the next election. Labor must deliver on their promises.
– Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
A new way forward
When a cause crying out for justice is embraced by one person who gives of herself the way Sister Susan Connelly has, the result can stretch to embrace a whole country (Amy Fallon, “Divine intervention”, July 16-22). The decision to end the prosecution of lawyer and whistleblower Bernard Collaery has been made by a new government voted into power by the people of this country wanting a new way of being in the world, a more exuberant and just reflection of what it means to be a neighbour. Connelly’s advocacy was one of the catalysts for this change to overflow.
– Pam Connor, South Brighton, SA
On Saturday, as a wandering health and community services sector exec, I read Rick Morton’s article (“No relief for jobseekers”, July 16-22) with sorrow but no surprise. I had oversight of an employment program years ago as the sector was going through its periodic retendering. The relevant minister was impressed with the “one-stop shop” service model. Job counselling, education et cetera, closely integrated. Sounds good. But clearly an inherent potential conflict-of-interest deep in the program design. Just do away with the whole program structure of multiple service streams, pay TAFEs for courses, reduce mutual obligation requirements and pay for long-term outcomes.
– Philip K. Cornish, Reservoir, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 23, 2022.
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