Letters to
the editor

Dangerous incursions


Bob Brown highlighted several aspects of the environmental degradation caused by the rapid expansion of inshore industrial salmon farming in Tasmania (“Gone fishing”, January 27–February 2). There are more concerns. As Brown pointed out, salmon faeces soiling the sea floor under holding pens has had a devastating effect on marine ecosystems. Salmon hatchery outflows have also substantially increased freshwater nutrient levels. Excess nutrient levels in water has the potential to cause a horrible human disease. Increased nutrients in water predispose to blooms of blue-green algae, 95 per cent of which produce the dangerous neurotoxin BMAA. Neuroscience researchers have warned that BMAA may be a major risk factor for the much feared, incurable, paralysing motor neurone disease. There is a growing body of evidence linking BMAA to an increase in MND diagnoses in recent decades.

– Frank Nicklason, North Hobart, Tas

All loss and no gain

Bob Brown’s critique of Anthony Albanese’s embrace of the Tasmanian salmon industry won’t rattle Tasmanians, who have long watched the state’s natural resources vanish down the throats of various extractive industries for no apparent gain to Tasmania’s impoverished public bottom line. It didn’t begin with the woodchip frenzy that demonstrated what was reported to be the fastest proportional rate of native forest destruction in the world about two decades ago, when the term “kleptocracy” was scarcely known down here. The sentient world, meanwhile, continues to see economic disasters related to the feverish liquidation of resources such as trees, pre-existing the establishment of the major Tasmanian parties with no apparent effect on the methods of their decision-makers. Let us hope a thick, deadening carpet of salmon poo under our waterways will muffle the critics, although Albanese’s hearing on similar issues doesn’t appear to be very sharp.

– John Hayward, Weegena, Tas

Plan for a mandate

Bob Brown is right to question Prime Minister Albanese’s commitment to the environment and sustainability. Our PM visited the Tassal salmon farm in Tasmania on January 17 and praised their business. Doesn’t he know of Tassal’s callousness to fish and seals? And that Tassal is mainly concerned only for its profits? Albanese showed great courage last week in changing the stage three tax cuts towards some fairness for everyone. He and colleagues must show even greater courage this year as they detail stronger climate action and environmental protection. They must do this in preparation for the federal election, for which they will need to win a climate science-based mandate. They should easily call out the Coalition for non-action but the teals, Greens and independents will be a genuine challenge. Australia, in particular, has only the next six years for our fossil fuel transition.

– Barbara Fraser, Burwood, Vic

Treaty disgrace

Victorian Coalition leader John Pesutto has struggled to justify the about-face on the state’s treaty process (Mike Seccombe, “The stalling treaties”, January 27–February 2). His justification seems to be that cultural heritage processes might impose costs on some developments, that there are limits to consultation. Ultimately, the Victorian Coalition, like Peter Dutton, knows what’s best for Indigenous Australians – that the priority is to work on “real issues”, presumably using processes that have failed for generations. Addressing past wrongs and current unacceptable conditions apparently must not upset “business as usual”. Seccombe accurately described this disgrace as an example of the cynical politics of race – a description that will not be lost on many Victorian voters.

– Norman Huon, Port Melbourne, Vic

A revolution in thinking

Elizabeth Farrelly (“Against private schools”, January 27–February 2) is right that fixing our broken education system needs the abolition of private schools. There is a yawning chasm, however, between what is right and what is achievable. The people who would be arrayed against such a move command enormous resources and great influence. In the current Australia, no politician, let alone political party, would go anywhere near such a proposition. What we need, in education and in many other parts of our society, is a revolution in imaginative thinking and our education system will not give us that. Is that a catch 22? All that awaits is despair.

– Greg Baker, Fitzroy Falls, NSW

Not fair enough

Your editorial “Defeating the wizard” and Chris Wallace’s “Albanese’s turning point” (both January 27–February 2) discuss the fairness, or otherwise, of Scott Morrison’s stage three tax cuts and their revision to a fairer profile by the Albanese government. Both miss this important point: many of those with the highest incomes pay little or no tax in the first place. They can afford the best accountants and lawyers and are able to shift profits to tax havens or phantom subsidiary companies in the Cayman Islands or Bahamas. Messrs Albanese and Chalmers need to think again if they want to create a fairer tax system.

– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT

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 February 3, 2024.

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