Joyous and long overdue
The proposed wording of an amendment to embed an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in Australia’s constitution is unexceptionable (Karen Middleton, “A hand outstretched”, July 30–August 5). It is a simple and polite response to the goodwill offered by the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The exact nature and power of the Voice is flexible and subject to parliamentary oversight. The government of the day would not be “obliged” to consult the Voice on matters affecting Aboriginal communities but it would be “expected” to do so. This is less prescriptive than was suggested in the final report but makes it easier to sell to the wider community. There will be much jostling in the detail but this is a joyous and long overdue proposal that is likely to be widely embraced.
– Peter Barry, Marysville, Vic
Big picture thinking
Thanks to Mike Seccombe for reporting the Greens’ policy on coal, namely “a staged phase-out of thermal coal – used to generate electricity – by 2030 and metallurgical coal – used for making steel – by 2040” (“Inside the Greens’ four-point strategy”, July 30–August 5). Albanese’s misrepresentation as “shutting down coal” is unfortunate at best and dangerous at worst. Unfortunate because it keeps the climate wars alive. Dangerous, because it reveals decarbonising of our economy is further off than we hoped. When it comes to supporting coal workers, only the Greens’ policy is adequate – $19 billion to subsidise workers’ wages by 50 per cent for a decade or up to 12 years for older workers until retirement. Those who cannot find alternative work can receive the subsidy directly. For progress, Albanese must apply the same conciliatory and big picture thinking in his negotiations with the Greens as he did at Garma.
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
Paying for inaction
We must stop the nonsense that both Labor and the Coalition are spreading, that succumbing to the Greens’ demand for banning all new fossil fuel projects will cripple our economy. We have huge fossil fuel projects in production supporting a strong export industry. The Greens are simply reiterating the International Energy Agency’s demand in order to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees. The major parties’ misrepresentations must reflect either their deep-seated fear of being associated with the Greens, or the pernicious influence of powerful vested interests – or both. Following decades of inaction we are now facing the long-forecast dire threats to humanity’s survival. It beggars belief that a prime minister who has seen the ravages of climate-induced fires and floods at first hand can prioritise political positioning or pandering to vested interests ahead of his nation’s security.
– Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
Expecting business to be ethical is like asking the sun to rise in the west: it has other plans. If there’s a dollar to be had or an advantage to be gained, there’ll always be someone in single-minded pursuit. John Hewson (“Unequal to the task”, July 30–August 5) should be commended for his consistent efforts to promote emphasis on dealing more ethically and equitably with problems of social and economic inequality. However, his suggested legislative remedies fall short of the practical measures needed to translate good intentions into meaningful action. Smart businesses already recognise that it’s in their best interests to act responsibly to curb emissions, for instance, without waiting for legislation. In a similar vein, there’s a good case to be made for the potential benefits enterprises might derive from acting unilaterally to reduce inequality, in areas such as aged care and affordable housing, without needing government coercion. In any cost–benefit analysis, it can be relatively easy for a business to achieve a more ethically healthy bottom line just by looking differently at who needs a better outcome.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
A timely reminder
With respect to the Pope’s visit to apologise to Canada’s First Nations people (Jonathan Pearlman, World, July 30–August 5), I was struck by “but I don’t think he fully comprehends the whole situation and what was done to us … the loss of language, culture ... I didn’t see it as a full apology”. It’s a timely reminder to reflect on our own history of colonisation and its impact on our First Nations people. However it develops, Voice, treaty and truth-telling are so long overdue.
– Judith Morrison, Nunawading, Vic
The food equation
As Esther Linder explains, access to quality, affordable and available food is being increasingly challenged as global heating imposes a web of interconnected obstacles across every stage of our food supply systems (“Breads are burning”, July 30–August 5). Long supply chains, in particular, are inefficient, resource heavy and susceptible to extreme weather. That “most fresh food grown in the NT is trucked to Adelaide for processing” and then returned to be sold in Territory supermarkets is a clear representation of the insufficiencies. Further, Australia is wasting about 7.6 million tonnes of food each year. Fortunately, groups such as Farmers for Climate Action outline a plethora of initiatives to improve sustainability and optimise climate adaptability into our food systems. Shortening food supply chains is crucial. We can all help by supporting local farmers and avoiding waste.
– Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 6, 2022.
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