Be a champion
Rick Morton’s investigation of the “No” campaign (“Anatomy of a ‘No’: The people voting against the Voice”, September 30–October 6) highlights that key reasons for so many people drifting towards voting “No” in recent weeks have been the lack of momentum in the “Yes” campaign, and because “they haven’t been convinced that this is the right thing to do”. When Anthony Albanese declared, in his election victory speech, that he committed his government to the full implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, he presented himself as its champion. But now, as the Voice’s ship drifts ever closer to the rocks of failure, our prime minister has immersed himself in other matters of state. It is incumbent on Albanese to champion the Voice energetically to inspire a strong run-up to referendum day. It would be a tragedy if the rights and hopes of First Nations peoples were dashed through their champion’s reluctance to fight the critical battle.
– Chris Young, Surrey Hills, Vic
The least we can do
I remember my great-grandmother, who was born in 1845, telling me of when her grandparents came from England to take up the offer of free land, and having to wait in Sydney Town for two years until the land was “pacified”. They had believed the land was unoccupied. After they moved onto their hundred acres on the Hawkesbury, they still had redcoats living with them, and they themselves shot First Nations people who they said raided their crops and burnt their sheds. It occurred to me that those stories, passed on through the generations, are still as vivid as when I first heard them, so I can imagine how fresh those stories are to those people whose families were dispossessed of their land and had many relatives shot on sight. Maybe the Voice and Makarrata is the least we can do.
– Stafford Ray, Denhams Beach, NSW
Why was it that the prospect of holding a referendum and committing so much time and money on it was not widely publicised during the election campaign? That this is occurring during a climate crisis by a government that is planning on opening more coalmines and is nowhere near its target on reducing carbon emissions makes me question the strategy underpinning it. The referendum, after all, is indeed detracting from vital debate on the worst existential catastrophe confronting humanity, while Australia continues leading the world in coal trade. Should the referendum succeed, it will doubtlessly lead to even less action on climate change.
– Laurelle Atkinson, St Helens, Tas
Lack of responsibility
It has become depressingly clear to me that our governments increasingly act not for the welfare of the citizens who elect them but as agents of the big business interests who have captured them. Bob Brown’s “Stand up for the forests” (September 30–October 6) explains in detail how most efforts to halt native forest destruction, and consequent biodiversity loss and species extinction, are defeated by federal government avoidance of responsibility under the regional forest agreements. Instead, responsibility has been passed to the states and territories. It has also largely avoided the powers available to it under the Constitution to halt or reduce native forest logging and to limit the timber industry. In a true democracy, government would be obliged to listen to the wishes of a majority of the citizenry. As it is, public opinion is too often ignored or sidestepped. Worse, we now see legislation permitting the imprisonment of protesters. Is this democracy? I don’t think so.
– Jeremy Barrett, Greenway, ACT
The reality of what human activity has done and is doing to our life support systems is clearly shown in the two articles, “Stand up for the forests” and “Climate change and the fire season ahead” (Bob Brown, Greg Mullins, September 30–October 6). Stopping native forest logging would seem a simple, straightforward action that would benefit many. Sadly, when even the Australian government won’t take this necessary action, there is little hope for the future for all life, as we know it, on the planet.
– Karen Joynes, Bermagui, NSW
Fighting fire with nothing
The excellent piece by Greg Mullins summarising the broad range of serious climate issues we face took my mind back to the retired commissioner finally gaining an audience with then prime minister Scott Morrison. When Mullins proposed the federal government order dedicated fire-fighting aircraft, Mullins quoted Morrison’s reply as: “That’s a stupid idea.” Indonesia ordered six Bombardier 415 bespoke water bomber aircraft two years ago. My first hope was that when Labor gained office last year, they would have an order prepared and ready to at least commence rolling. It seems not.
– Paul Keig, Wahroonga, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on October 7, 2023.
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