Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Global warming: In this age of the NIMBY, change seems too hard
In the wake of the IPCC’s latest report on global warming, your correspondent points out how achievable it would be to make reforms including changes to avert a climate catastrophe (Letters, 22/3). Very true. But a key reason why the changes are not happening is that we are living in an age of entitlement. Ideas look great in theory, but when it comes to their implementation, it’s NIMBY (not in my back yard).
Whether these changes involve nuclear waste disposal, getting cars off the road, restricting land clearing, phasing out gambling and activities that involve cruelty to animals, banning plastic bags or introducing a carbon price, there will be people who will be worse off, at least in the short term. And the larger, wealthier and more powerful they are, the more vociferous the opposition will be.
That’s why lobbying from individuals and groups like GetUp is so important. It gives the government a push to consider change.
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene
Reductions, not offsets
As “Bowen stares down Bandt on climate bid” (The Age, 22/3) home owners and farmers in the regions stare at the flood damage to their homes and property. Young Australians stare despondently at politicians playing games. “Blinking” is not a weakness. The latest IPCC report makes it abundantly clear that we need a mechanism that reduces emissions, not just offsets them.
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
Politics of stasis
Golding’s cartoon (Letters, 22/3) on climate change, “We’re up the proverbial creek… but we do have a paddle” echoes the sentiment of UN Secretary General António Guterres, who has been increasingly strident in his entreaties to take serious action. Australia (and the rest of the world) has reached the point at which the action required – cessation of all new fossil fuel projects and the introduction of a high carbon price – cannot be implemented because of the state of our politics. For so long, both sides have argued that our response to climate change must be delivered in a sustainable manner, i.e., without raising taxes or damaging our economy, when it is clear that real action must necessarily hurt.
Maurie Trewhella, Hoppers Crossing
Rationing and restrictions are accepted in times of war, drought, famine, storms, floods and economic turmoil. The community accepts this when the need becomes clear: water restrictions, COVID restrictions, funding restrictions, power rationing, fuel rationing, food rationing, travel restrictions, to name a few. Why is there no discussion of energy restriction and rationing as a part of our strategy for avoiding what is looking like being catastrophic climate change?
Jonathan Crockett, New Gisborne
Stuck with a contradiction
There can be no meaningful attack on climate change without significant personal sacrifice. Yet there will be no significant personal sacrifice. Why? The generation that holds the money and political power in developed countries is plump, sleek and entitled. They talk the talk of saving the future for their grandchildren, but that’s where it stops.
Neil Falconer, Castlemaine
Making a difference
Adopting a sustainable lifestyle is a multifaceted process. We have been exhorted to switch our carbon-based fuel-guzzling vehicles for EVs using renewably sourced electricity. For most of us, this is a pipe dream due to the cost of EVs and the impossibility of knowing the source of the power at public charging stations. Plus, if all vehicles were EVs, a groaning electricity grid would be under more pressure. As we work towards that goal, we can make simple contributions. For example: use energy-intensive appliances (washing machine and dishwasher) in off-peak times. There is not only a cost benefit in many cases, but it reduces the load on the local electricity grid.
Carmel McNaught, Balwyn North
Geraldine Brooks’ outstanding piece (“AUKUS deal will not make us safer”, 22/3) clearly adds to and reinforces the views of Paul Keating and others without the invective and vitriol. It is beyond comprehension that Australia is linking our future to a bitterly divided United States, a nation that is rapidly declining as both a superpower and democracy.
Our other AUKUS partner, Britain, is still reeling from Brexit, both socially and economically.
James Young, Mt Eliza
Geraldine Brooks, I have read and re-read nearly all of your books. And now I take my hat off to you for talking sense to your country of birth about AUKUS and the nuclear submarine expenditure. We need to have discussions with those in power about our defence policy instead of meekly accepting what we are being told.
Mirna Cicioni, Brunswick East
Despite the scaremongering, Australia has strategic security. We are a distant island with natural defences. We are also economically important to both China and the US. China gets its best quality coal and steel-making iron ore here, along with many other minerals and foodstuffs. The US controls much of our immensely profitable energy industries, and many apparently pay little tax. US interests are the major shareholders in most of our largest companies.
There is no way either China or the US would permit the other to invade or blockade Australia. Nor would it be in the interests of either for that to happen.
We only need a defence force to project power on our immediate area. We shouldn’t have our existing foreign bases and we definitely don’t need more.
We must however substantially increase royalties on all mineral exports and get serious about taxing foreign companies. Australia has strong strategic security but our public finances are in dire shape. Mark Freeman, Macleod
Peter Hartcher notes that Albanese took the AUKUS plan in principle to the 2022 election (“Keating repaid honour with scorn”, 18/3). But that was the last thing on our minds at the last election, where the majority of us wanted rapid action on climate change, refugees and better social equality. We should go back to the French and turn our backs on the US which has already led us into Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam and may well embroil us in another such war, and bankrupt our budget at the same time.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn
The Coalition has effectively wedged Labor over tax for decades, preventing many sensible reforms such as changes to negative gearing. The AUKUS submarine agreement, revealed suddenly as a fait accompli in an election year, was another wedge; a proposal the ALP did not dare to question for fear of being depicted as unpatriotic on defence. The current critical frenzy against Paul Keating and others who raise objections to the cost, built-in obsolescence and vulnerability of the subs shows the ALP was probably correct in caving in to win that election. Whether the AUKUS decision is in Australia’s best interest is another matter and one that deserves ongoing debate.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
A shortsighted and wasteful use of funds maybe, but at least the cash released from super “that went on gambling and takeaway meals” didn’t help inflate house prices, to the point that for most people they’re unaffordable. That is, unlike super funnelled responsibly into house deposits (“Voters reject early super for homes”, 22/3).
As with first home owner grants and the like, putting superannuation money into house buyers’ hands pushes prices up. The Coalition’s Super Home Buyer Scheme doesn’t make any sense and never has.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills
I have always considered John Pesutto a thoughtful, considered and rational man. One who acted on evidence and with full knowledge of a situation. However, the “Deeming episode” has me concerned.
Here is a woman, Moira Deeming, who has openly disclosed her opinions and was granted preselection under the Liberal procedure.
She was elected by the constituents of her electorate, knowing her positions on Liberal policy and the Liberals were very happy to have her in parliament. She attended a rally, in line with her stated beliefs, which are to many of us abhorrent, and the events was gatecrashed by an equally abhorrent group. She has no affiliation with this second group. John Pesutto very quickly made the announcement that she should be expelled from the party.
One Liberal MP was quoted (“Dumping Deeming to be big test for Pesutto”, 21/03) as saying they would support Pesutto as they did not want to “hang the leader out to dry”. So loyalty seems to outweigh due process.
Jenny Callaghan, Hawthorn
A comfortable race
Liberal Ryan Smith, in calling to indefinitely delay on the expulsion of Moira Deeming argues, inter alia, that he can’t see any reason to expel somebody “elected by the people in western Melbourne”. To paraphrase Bill Hayden “a drover’s dog would be elected” if they were placed number one on a Liberal Party upper house regional ticket.
Bill Pimm, Mentone
A toxic mix
Your correspondent is right up to a point about Nazism but to attribute it solely to the racial theory of the day lets the Nazis off the hook. Anti-Semitism was doing its work long before racial pseudo-science came along.
In Germany’s case it was fanned by a toxic mix of resentment over losing the First World War (the “stab in the back” myth), religious prejudice (the Catholic Church step forward), the lie that communism was largely a Jewish thing and economic turmoil. This came together with the Nazis’ pathological fear and hatred of the different, the modern and the new in music, art and science.
It didn’t help the Jews that the Nazis were also pathologically anti-intellectual, and obviously still are.
Michael Read, Carnegie
What scares me
In light of discussions about banning Nazi symbols, I’m really not that concerned about neo-Nazi groups in the city … they’re easy targets to ridicule. It’s the polite and sophisticated racism among the educated middle classes that is often ignored that more concerns me.
It’s the Asian actors on stage at a recent MTC forum who wept and spoke about being denied roles because of the unconscious biases of theatre directors. It’s the blind spots of management who can’t see the lack of diversity in their company’s culture, or the blokey male who makes a crude, sexist or ignorant joke that’s often accepted as humour. It’s the white woman who is condescending to the migrant worker serving her an overpriced coffee in a wealthy area.
I see it everywhere but many privileged people don’t. That really scares me.
Mel Smith, South Yarra
A little cleaner
Melbourne is a vibrant city. Walking into town on Monday, I passed the pools of vomit, dried, from Friday and Saturday; some still fresh from Sunday. Stains in doorways, stairs and walls had the smell of urine. Yesterday morning, the remnants remained.
But then yesterday, it rained. Little remains, save for stains etched into the bluestone. But next Monday, as I walk through town, the spills and smells will be back. Would our city be less vibrant if businesses chose, or were made, to wash, mop and sweep (but not blow) the footpath outside their city premises?
Because it does not rain every week. Might Melbourne be still a vibrant city, even if it were clean?
James McDougall, Fitzroy North
Time will come
Patrick O’Neil (“My eight year old has never seen his football team win”, 22/3) hits a chord for many of us. During the Blues’ darkest days my great nephew turned to his father and said “Dad you know the bit in our song that says “we’re the team that never lets you down, well I’m feeling very let down”.
Thankfully he has stuck with the family tradition and the Blues are emerging from those dark days. Peter Roche, Carlton
Sticking to the line
Patrick O’Neil is right. His son will learn to wait patiently for the Hawks to become a power again.
Aged five, my grandson endured Richmond losing to Hawthorn in a VFL game at Box Hill about seven years ago. At one point, after they scored again in a brutal passage of play, he stood up on the terrace and yelled, “You naughty Hawks!” Yet, sticking to the Tigers in our patriarchal line proved to be a winner.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha
It seems like every month we are reading about some new data breach that has exposed thousands to ID theft.
Once upon a time in a world now lost to us, we applied for things that required ID by fronting up and showing a clerk our 100 point documents, who duly ticked the box that we were who we professed to be, handed our documents back to us and accepted us into their fold.
But now, alas, because we are asked to conduct these transactions sight-unseen over the internet, we have to release our identity documents from the security of our wallets and handbags and distribute them everywhere in so many porous clouds that leave us exposed to being copied and scammed by every unidentified Tom, Dick and Hacker in the world.
Bring back the clerks who deal with us personally and allow us to keep our identities in hand!
David Marshall, West Brunswick
And another thing
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping greeting each other as “dear friend” (22/3) gave me pause. More like “blood brothers” I’d have thought.
Cath Dyson, Mount Eliza
Fair dinkum Xi. Trying to broker a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine and only visiting one country seems a bit biased to me.
Hermann Stelzer, Jan Juc
What does Paul Keating have to say about Xi Jinping’s visit to “dear friend” Vladimir Putin?
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
The prize for vitality and optimism goes to Rupert Murdoch, world-wide media collector and expert wedding planner.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Another Murdoch wife who will soon feel old age creeping up on her.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West
Your correspondent points out that a ban on the Nazi salute would remove a convenient means of identifying them – however this only works if we ban masks.
Peter Drum, Coburg
If tolerance of a diversity of political views is a hallmark of a strong democracy (Letters, 22/3) should we tolerate akin to Nazism? My answer is an emphatic no.
Gerry Rohan, Westlake
A whole week on top of the ladder. Am I the only Bomber supporter trying to overcome my acrophobia?
Geoff Allen, Mt Eliza
The Bombers should change to the Dons. Bombers dive, Dons keep soaring – a la Bradman.
Tris Raouf, Hadfield
Ross Gittins on why we don’t really want to be rich reminds me of an old aphorism: The most important things in life are not things.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale
I am not sure about the Productivity Commission. How about the Relax and Lie Down Commission?
Anne Ramsay, Essendon
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