Regarding Australia being hostile to vaping, maybe that’s not such a bad thing (Martin McKenzie-Murray, “Vaping trail”, June 3-9). It is noted that each individual vape contains 0.15 grams of lithium in its battery. Britain alone is estimated to dump each year into landfill enough lithium in vape batteries to make nearly 1200 of today’s EV batteries. Multiply that by the number of countries allowing vapes and you can see the problem. The absolute waste of a scarce resource and the potential damage being done to the environment as a result should be taken into account.
– Tony Redmond, Wyong, NSW
I was disappointed by Martin McKenzie-Murray’s uncritical support for the proposed crackdown on adolescent vaping. It typifies the Australian media’s treatment of this topic, which assumes that we can only assert tobacco control by continuing the prohibitionist policies pursued since 2008 that have produced a massive illicit market in vaping products and increased youth access and use. There are a number of peer-reviewed papers criticising the current policy that have been studiously ignored by journalists covering this issue.
– Wayne Hall, emeritus professor, National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research at the University of Queensland, St Lucia, Qld
A brave result
The Ben Roberts-Smith decision is a day of celebration for Australia (“Ben Roberts-Smith is a war criminal”, June 3-9). Not only was our justice system capable of delivering a truthful verdict, the SAS soldiers who testified and the journalists who covered this story successfully walked the tightrope of telling the truth and maintained integrity in the toughest of circumstances with so much pressure being put on them by a bully. These are the real heroes and the real representatives of our great country. These Australians achieved what no other Western country has so far, despite similar allegations of soldiers breaking the rules of war. I couldn’t be more proud of the way Australia has upheld the value of human life and rules of war.
– Foad Munir, Newstead, Qld
Missteps in war
The disgust engendered by the Ben Roberts-Smith case is tough on the vast majority of principled, courageous armed forces members. It should provide a catalyst to review the role of politicians who have led us into a series of disastrous wars, usually at the bidding of the United States. Some observers assert that the Coalition thinks it has a political, competitive advantage over Labor on national security, even suggesting the Albanese government’s rubber-stamping of initiatives such as AUKUS is partly driven by fear of being “wedged” on national security. World War I caused more than 16 million deaths and Rudyard Kipling wrote: “If any question why we died, / Tell them, because our fathers lied.” Missteps today threaten our very survival. The war powers of the Australian government are awesome responsibilities and our American alliance involves increasing national security risks. It is surely time for critical reviews of both.
– Norman Huon, Port Melbourne, Vic
The power of fear
I loved the idea that Peter Dutton “sits on cuckoo eggs”, incubating ideas that appear to defy electoral logic (Editorial, “Country mouse politics”, June 3-9). But your piece made no mention of the rank opportunism inherent in this type of politics, especially its current iteration – opposition to the Voice. Such opportunistic “bumpkin politics” was wielded by Tony Abbott when, in early 2009, he fronted a meeting of Victorian farmers and uttered his immortal line about climate science being “absolute crap”. That was shortly after Australia’s first “climate change election” and, while it initially seemed to be in defiance of public opinion, it turned out to be a very subtle reading of it. “There are not enough seats for Dutton to win office in the bush” but Dutton is betting the farm that he can animate the small, dark fears that linger in a settler colony and use them to destroy a prime minister.
– David Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Choices that inspire
Kurt Johnson provides inspirational stories from four “climate quitters” who have each sacrificed their own career in or around the fossil fuel sector to move into jobs that bring them, and us, hope for a more sustainable future (“Climate quitters”, June 3-9). These Australians are part of an international change. The findings from the Global Energy Talent Index – that environmental, social and governance concerns are one of the top three reasons energy workers change jobs – show these feelings run broadly through the sector. It is heartening that Johnson’s courageous individuals are now helping drive stronger climate action. Our futures are all inextricably intertwined with the work we do to substantially reduce carbon emissions in this decade. Johnson’s article gives great encouragement to those who are contemplating quitting their jobs in the fossil-fuel sector to work for climate change. It also inspires us all.
– Lesley Clark, Freshwater, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on June 10, 2023.
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