Letters to
the editor

Elephant in the airline

The public vilification of Alan Joyce as the poster boy responsible for incinerating the Qantas brand ignores the elephant in the room (Rick Morton, “Exclusive: Qantas considers paying back JobKeeper”, September 2-8). Surely the Qantas Group board – on behalf of silent, non-protesting, prospering shareholders – gave the go-ahead to holding on to half-a-billion dollars of Covid travel credits, and JobKeeper subsidies, as well as outmuscling Qatar Airways. The precipitous decline to a low-quality yet exorbitantly priced flying experience with Qantas gives pause for thought. How many shareholders actually fly with Qantas, or are they in the privileged cocoon of the sharp end of the plane, toasting healthy profits after a relaxing emergence from business and first class? I’d dare Qantas shareholders to speak up.

– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld

Time for justice

As we sprint towards October 14, it was timely to have the edges of our anxiety quieted by Paul Bongiorno (“Between the hard right and a soft ‘No’ ”, September 2-8) and Claire G. Coleman’s astute post-referendum oration (“The rest of Uluru’s promise”) in the same issue. All Australians are being asked to vote on a simple question regarding a modest yet history-making inclusion in our dusty constitution. The dimensions of the vote seem to have become personally confronting for many Australians conditioned by our tribal two-party politics. It has generated an even greater tsunami of vitriol than the same-sex marriage poll did, and it has now demeaned us all. This is an invitation to a long-overdue correction. Now is not the time for amplifying political desperation, it’s a time for peacemaking and justice.

– Andrew Barnum, Meroo Meadow, NSW

Population factor

Mike Seccombe (“Australia’s greenhouse emissions are still rising”, September 2-8) fails to present key data from the March 2023 Greenhouse Gas Inventory that does not support the article’s claim that transport emission growth of 20 per cent from 2005 is due to tax incentives leading to the increased use of large utility vehicles. Another government document advises that “Light duty vehicle activity is expected to increase in line with population growth”. Since 2005, Australia’s population has grown by 30 per cent, while transport emissions intensities have reduced by about 10 per cent. The 2023 inventory notes an 84 per cent increase in the number of diesel vehicles since 2014 and just 25 per cent increase in diesel consumption over the same period. This indicates a huge improvement in efficiency. The tax incentives for vehicle replacement have most likely resulted in the purchase of more efficient vehicles with significant emissions reductions, masked by the significant population increase.

– David Robinson, Hampton, Vic

For the common good

Oversized cars aside, the big issue we’re not talking about to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is whether the market can do it on its own. Already it seems the market can’t, or at the very least the cost of connecting renewable energy to the grid will be so expensive that at “market rates” many households and businesses will be in serious financial stress. Just as when the electricity networks were first being set up more than 100 years ago, government needs to step in and directly build generation and transmission, where the common good is at the heart of the energy transition, not just short-term profit. How we fix the addiction many of us have to outsized commuter vehicles is a difficult question, though taxing them more heavily is the obvious and fairest step.

– Colin Hesse, Marrickville, NSW

Terminal tragedy

Earth’s history has had many termination points. These points have been when ice ages have turned into tropical ages and vice versa. Alarming evidence indicates a potential irreversible termination point is already happening, and this will reduce Earth’s habitable areas drastically, if not entirely. Net zero is not enough to repair the damage already done. It is imperative anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions stop immediately and carbon capture and storage processes are introduced to reduce the parts per million of global heating particles in the atmosphere. The plans for 2050 will be far too little, much too late.

– Phil Cornelius, Seacliff Park, SA

Poor policy

In relation to John Hewson’s article (“Make the polluters pay”, September 2-8), it is clear to me the current government is complicit in the global march towards climate catastrophe. It continues to support policies that make even a 43 per cent reduction in our emissions by 2030 impossible. I want a recognition by the government of the size of the challenge, and the development and implementation of policies that will make an immediate dent in our emissions. How wonderful would it be for an Australian prime minister to show the world’s governments what it is possible to achieve when policies supported by the scientific community and onboard economists are implemented.

– Joan Selby Smith, Blackburn, 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 September 9, 2023.

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