Labor Party must take genuine stand or pay price

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CLIMATE POLICY

Labor Party must take genuine stand or pay price
As the ALP has its existential crisis on a federal climate change policy, Fraser Island burns, 2020 is proclaimed one of the hottest years on record and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raises the alarm on nature’s “growing force and fury” in response to our active disregard for its welfare. As unpalatable as the Coalition is, at least we all know it isn’t serious about climate change.

But what of Australia’s other major party? Labor, your own perceived irrelevance is brought about by favouring Liberal-lite policies for short-term gain. Start showing genuine leadership on renewables. A dispirited voting public needs hope that we really do have better intellects than Craig Kelly, Barnaby Joyce and those others at the fringe of government driving the debate (talk about carbon-dated attitudes).

Beyond the next election cycle stands a generation of Australians for whom your opinions and actions matter. Your once proud party will only be consigned to history if it fails to finally take a genuine stand on this “great moral challenge”.
Matt Dunn, Leongatha

The climate pays no attention to our culture wars
Parnell Palme McGuinness (″⁣Tackling cultural priorities″⁣, Comment, 5/12) warns us facts aren’t enough to convince us of the truth on issues such as climate change that have become the subject of culture wars.

This may well be true, but unfortunately the climate pays absolutely no attention to what we happen to think about it. Furthermore, the science warning us of dangerous climate change is well established and very strong – again, regardless of what we would like to think about it.

One might have hoped one reason we have a Parliament is so mechanisms for finding the truth on contentious issues such as this can be set up and report back to us. Apart from the Climate Commission, which Tony Abbott destroyed in 2013, there has been no real attempt to do this on the climate issue. We can only hope that Zali Steggall’s climate bill will lead to the setting up of an “independent advisory commission” as she recommends.

Parnell suggests that “no amount of evidence on climate change will shift attitudes to climate action unless it can align with cultural priorities”. Sorry, but perhaps it is the cultural priorities that have to shift.
Keith Burrows, Fairfield

Take on the deniers in the party room
Our government is claiming its climate change (pollution reduction) plans are well under way. The decision not to use carry-over credits only reflects world condemnation of this tactic.

Meanwhile, our Energy Minister boasts we have achieved significant recent pollution reductions. He doesn’t mention that Australia’s shutdowns and border restrictions meant that pollution levels were reduced as industry and commerce were deactivated. He believes in a ″⁣gas led″⁣ pollution reduction plan, i.e. the use of fossil fuels rather that renewable energy. He also wants to use money set aside for renewable energy programs to fund his gas projects. We have yet to see the validation of Greg Hunt’s early claims of pollution reductions by ″⁣reverse auctions″⁣.

Our Prime Minister states he might not achieve his targets until 2100, 50 years longer than is being accepted around the world while Australia’s role as a major coal exporter continues to increase world pollution levels. Scott Morrison needs to take real action. He needs to tackle climate deniers in his party room and the fossil fuel lobbyist’s attempts to slow pollution reductions.
Malcolm Ellenport, Brighton East

She was right to chide us
Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was correct to chide Scott Morrison and the Coalition on its despairingly slow approach to addressing the climate change emergency. The only reason Australia appears to be interacting at all is the states, territories, local government and industry in general have taken up the slack.

No doubt Scott Morrison will engage his personal cameraman to take some photos of him grandstanding and posturing to receive credit for what paltry contribution to the climate problem Australia is making.
Ted Logan, Footscray West

THE FORUM

We all make mistakes
After all the opprobrium heaped on Daniel Andrews, all the angst about the ″⁣missing six minutes″⁣, all the cries of a massive failure of public policy, we learn other states have virus breakouts from quarantine (SA and NSW), other states use security guards in quarantine hotels, and other states have a casualised workforce in quarantine hotels. We also learn the ADF is not necessarily available for what is needed, and that people make mistakes.

Now we learn of a potentially massive failure at our international border in Sydney. It is only by good luck and the lack of large family events attended by infected workers that SA and NSW did not have second waves to rival Victoria. Surely SA and NSW officials should have learnt from the Victorian experience.

We should stop trying to apportion blame and instead thank Daniel Andrews and Brett Sutton for having the right policies and holding firm in the face of demands for an early easing of the restrictions that ultimately ended the second wave.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Lazy patriotism
Sean Kelly (″⁣PM’s fury a tried and true tactic″⁣, Comment, 7/12 ), is right to stress the characteristic hypocrisy of Scott Morrison where human rights issues, spanning his period as immigration minister up to the present, are concerned.

His hyperventilating over a puerile and crude Chinese ″⁣wolf warrior″⁣-style post was an exercise in obfuscation clearly meant to distract from the Brereton inquiry’s airing of damning allegations around appalling conduct by Australian Army special services soldiers in Afghanistan.

Disturbingly, a traditional community respect for our defence forces continues to be exploited by certain conservative politicians and powerful media and defence lobbyists as a means of denialism where alleged war crimes are concerned.

The PM’s lazy, reflexive patriotism gets in the way of transparency.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Competing narratives
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews reportedly said the travellers from Germany were picked up at Melbourne Airport due to a bit of good fortune when an airport worker sensed something was not right, but federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said they were detected due to a failsafe mechanism within the border force system.

Is this the same Border Force that claimed the Ruby Princess debacle had nothing to do with them as they only checked visas and looked for contraband?
Marysia Green, Hawthorn East

He can’t take credit
Greg Hunt appeared on television spruiking the many layers of security that exist to quarantine overseas arrivals and which enabled the detection of the non-quarantined passengers that flew direct to Melbourne from Sydney.

Does he seriously wish us to believe that a random encounter by a security guard at Tullamarine airport with two lost German dual nationals seeking directions is part of the federal and NSW government’s quarantine system. Mr Hunt cannot take credit for the commendable security guard’s actions, and he should rather be calling for someone in the NSW Police Force to be taken to task.

But it’s a Liberal government in NSW so that probably won’t happen.
Doug Shaw, Sunbury

A change of mindset
The Labor Party’s search for the hearts and minds of the electorate needs to be expansive. Nothing prevents Anthony Albanese from discussing international relations and trade with China and other countries, many opposition leaders have done it.

Discussing clean energy transition plans with state and territory leaders and the energy sectors, both more progressive than the federal government, makes sense. Consulting with our First Nations’ people on a path to formal recognition and respect of their history is another.

Many, many other things can follow. The government has left plenty of vacant space in which to operate in areas that are very important to Australians. It just requires a change of mindset, from opposition to alternative leaders to build a portfolio of meaningful works for our future.
Trevor Martin, Saint Leonards

Where will it stop?
I’m a member of a church that, happily, welcomes LGBTI people and has gay clergy. However, I’m alarmed by the proposed legislation criminalising praying with people about their sexuality. This is state intervention in religious belief and practice, and it is an unmitigated attack on freedom of religion. I’m also appalled by the proposed interference in parent-child relationships.

″⁣Protection″⁣ of the rights of one group that takes away the rights of another detracts from the freedoms and rights of the whole community. While I disagree with so-called ″⁣conversion therapy″⁣, the state must not tell the faithful how they must pray. Education is far better: widespread distribution of material supporting gay people, explaining the defects of ″⁣conversion therapy″⁣, and ensuring that everyone can access such material and support.

Many churches that believe in gay ″⁣conversion″⁣ also instruct wives to stay with their abusive husbands. Will the government be intervening here, too? And some other religions do not even acknowledge the existence of homosexuality. If this deeply flawed legislation is to proceed, it must address all such issues equally, or risk being seen as an attack on the Christian faith alone at the behest of a single group, however deserving.
Caroline Miley, Heidelberg

Overstepping the mark
Most Christians, though flawed like everyone else, do not wish harm on others. But the issue with the proposed ″⁣conversion therapy bill″⁣ is that the state is telling Christians how to pray.

In protecting the rights of one group, the government is taking another small but significant step towards removing the rights of another.
Marlene Magee, Lilydale

He must tread warily
Scott Morrison may be right, for Australian domestic purposes, to express his immediate reaction to the Chinese cartoon ostensibly depicting an Australian soldier preparing to commit an atrocity, but he should be very careful how he proceeds from now on.

The cartoon, by ″⁣wolf warrior″⁣ graphic artist Fu Yu, represents a striking development in Chinese Communist Party propaganda techniques, now aimed not just at domestic but international consumers of social media.

Cartoons, including caricature, use a combination of reality and exaggeration to make their point. The party has always done that, but cartoons and critical commentary have been a tool of ideological education rather than satire, and there is no great distinction intended between fact and fiction.

We are now seeing the Western style ″⁣cartoon″⁣ wedded to the party’s ideological techniques, combining elements of photographic ″⁣reality″⁣ with computer graphics in what purports to be satire, but is intended to have the impact of fact.

The cartoon has always been something of a hybrid genre in modern Chinese political culture, but now, like ″⁣socialism with Chinese characteristics″⁣, it has found its own native style and purpose and those who object to this will be told they are ″⁣over-reacting″⁣.
Trevor Hay, Montmorency

There are too many of us
David Attenborough’s Extinction program made it clear that climate change, although very dangerous, is not the biggest threat to the health of the planet.

There are just too many of us, and we demand more from this old earth – water, food, minerals, space – than it can supply.
Graham Patterson, Briar Hill

Show some initiative
With all the current navel-gazing by the ALP focusing on how to approach the next election, they seem to have overlooked that the Coalition held government by a slender margin. This occurred with the ALP, for whatever reason, having an unpopular leader and a raft of policies that were both not properly articulated in terms of benefit and frightened those who had long enjoyed tax benefits that were now seemingly at risk.

Perhaps Anthony Albanese is not the leader to take the ALP forward (he may have brought about a different result last time, who knows).

However, it would be a mistake to resile from all those policies without retaining some of the more positive initiatives and to a large extent adopt policies akin to the Coalition’s (that is where they actually have policies). This would not lead to an outcome that will convince the majority of the electorate that they should ditch the government for some imitation of the incumbent.

Show some initiative and have confidence that properly presented policies engage the public to an extent that they would have good reason to consider the ALP as a genuine and attractive alternative.
Bill Pimm, Mentone

Policing the police
The exposure of issues around police involved in allegations of domestic violence again raises the problem of police investigating police. That police are significantly less likely to be charged in domestic violence issues should alarm everyone.

We have seen incidents where the police investigation says ″⁣nothing to see here″⁣ only for IBAC to get involved and charges to be laid or where exposure in the media is the catalyst for charges after the police have turned a blind eye.

Last week we had the Ombudsman come out saying her office is under-funded. We have IBAC saying they are under-resourced. There is a theme here.

It is long past the time for the responsibility of investigating police to be taken off the police to restore integrity around the investigation of police and for the independent bodies to be fully resourced.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

It’s across the board
Mark Hancock tells us what so many of us knew (‴⁣⁣There is no stereotype’: I became an ice addict at the age of 63″⁣, Comment, online, 7/12).

Illicit drugs are used by people across the board, and not just by AFL footballers, music festival-goers and street people. I applaud Mr Hancock for having the grit to shift so called ″⁣drug debate″⁣ to a welcome new level.
John Rawson, Mernda

AND ANOTHER THING

Quarantine system
Apparently, random security guards are part of Australian Border Force’s “failsafe ring” deliberately built into the border control system.
Shaun Brown, Docklands

Credit:

Michael O’Brien’s response to Victorian Hotel Quarantine Mark 2: talk it down and hope that something goes wrong.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

You ask for frontline troops and you get foyer troops. Just remind me what this ADF thing was about in the first place.
Thomas Van Der Zee, Doncaster East

The awareness of that alert security officer at Melbourne Airport surely must rank as the best slips catch of all time.
Peter Whelan, Gladstone Park

Politics
Some insults should be ignored and the recent Chinese cartoon insult that Scott Morrison took so seriously was one of them. Please learn from it, Prime Minister.
Hugh McCaig, Blackburn

The Victorian Libs have finally got into recycling.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

Climate change
The coal-captured Coalition bleats about the cost of climate action while the health and environmental costs of inaction are monumental and mounting.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

While Fraser Island continues to burn, it seems the “lessons learnt” from last summer’s bushfires have gone up in smoke.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Unfortunately, political advantage appears to be the outcome that is mathematically modelled by the government; generally this overrides scientific advice.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Finally
It’s very important that the proposed COVID-19 vaccines are thoroughly tested before being released for public use. The anti-vaxxers don’t need any further ammunition to reject all vaccinations.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton

Note from the Editor

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