Public money misspent
“We’re talking about public money propping up Catholic health assets so NSW Health can buy services from them” (Rick Morton, “St Vincent’s Hospital to be insolvent by April”, December 23–January 12). As Catholic education goes in Australia, so too does Catholic healthcare – public money simply handed over, few questions asked and almost zero accountability.
– Michelle Goldsmith, Eaglehawk, Vic
Dutton’s negative charge
It was disheartening to read both the editorial (“The poverty of fear”, December 23–January 12) and the article by Paul Bongiorno (“In search of lost mojo”) on the apparent success Peter Dutton and the Coalition seem to have enjoyed over the past six months. All Dutton has done is emulate Tony Abbott’s response of saying “No” to everything the government proposes, so it was pleasing to read John Hewson’s sober assessment that the Coalition was unelectable, with its only policy, or rather thought bubble, being to promote nuclear power (“This Coalition is unelectable”). It would be surprising if the shadow minister for climate change and energy, Ted O’Brien, was even aware that the leading United States nuclear company NuScale had to cancel its six-reactor, 462-megawatt project due to rising costs, or that the estimated cost to clean up Britain’s nuclear sites is £260 billion, of which the maintenance costs of the major one, Sellafield, are so huge it is considered to be a fiscal risk by officials. Although the election is still a while away and a lot may change, Hewson is spot on with his statement that “negativity and denial are not election-winning policies or strategies”.
– Peter Nash, Fairlight, NSW
Your searingly honest editorial “The poverty of fear” demonstrates how terror and prejudice can be harnessed for political gain. Peter Dutton knows this and is just biding his time as voters view “the world from behind half-drawn blinds”. The editorial nailed it. This reminded me of Mike Carlton’s opinion piece “The land of the fair gone” (March 31–April 6, 2018). It features some uncomfortable truths and a questioning of what we have become in this “lucky country”. Carlton’s comment that the “odious Peter Dutton seems to revel in treating refugees with cynical brutality” rings true. Just imagine a Liberal government returning to power. Nightmares are made of this.
– Tom Heffer, Myrtle Bank, SA
LNG import terminal debate
Your Letters page, while providing an outlet for readers’ opinions, should not be allowed to inadvertently spread misinformation. In support of his opinion that new gas fields should be opened up to support the nation’s transition to renewable energy, one correspondent asserts that “in places such as NSW, forgoing the development of gas resources has led to the construction of an LNG (liquefied natural gas) import terminal, which has higher associated emissions due to the energy-intensive liquefaction process than if the gas was produced locally” (December 23–January 12). Projects such as Santos’s Narrabri Gas Project are notoriously high in CO2, reducing the economic value of the resource and adding to fugitive GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions. GHG emissions from the proposed import terminal are actually much less per unit of gas than from Australian gas fields such as Narrabri. Lack of economic viability is perhaps why Santos’s board again postponed its financial investment decision until at least 2025.
– Anna Christie, North West Protection Advocacy, Narrabri, NSW
Uninstalling gas lies
“A merger for desperate fossil fuel giants” (December 16-22) includes the statement that “gas is cleaner than … coal”. This claim, although heavily promoted by the gas industry and widely believed by the public, is incorrect – with vital implications for the inappropriateness of gas as a “transition fuel”. It is true that the production of a unit of energy by burning gas does produce less CO2 than producing the same amount of energy by burning coal. But gas is methane, with a greenhouse gas impact 80 times that of CO2. A small escape of unburnt methane has a large impact in negating gas’s advantage. And in the real world, significant leakage of methane occurs during extraction, piping, liquefying, storage and use of gas. Current research shows that when methane leakage is accounted for accurately, gas is at least as harmful to the climate as coal. It is no surprise the gas industry continues to peddle a useful lie. But it is outrageous that our governments continue to base their policies upon that lie.
– Richard Barnes, Canterbury, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on January 13, 2024.
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