Our planet before any self-serving positioning

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Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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THE ENVIRONMENT

Our planet before any self-serving positioning

Joel Fitzgibbon believes Labor has ‘‘alienated its traditional blue collar voters’’ (The Age, 11/11) over the issue of climate change and energy policies. In 2016, Donald Trump leveraged his success, to some extent, by appealing to a similarly disaffected constituency. Although I am not suggesting Fitzgibbon and his supporters within the ALP are promoting a form of Trumpism, on the issue of climate change they should take note of Joe Biden’s victory and his advocacy of a transition to a clean and green economy.

The way forward for the ALP is not to capitulate to the delay strategies of the fossil fuel-supporting Coalition. Rather, it should hold strong with its emission reduction targets, albeit with an empathetic approach to supporting the so-called ‘‘traditional’ Labor constituency to make that transition without being left behind. The threat of climate change is too urgent for self-serving, political positioning.
Harry Zable, Campbell’s Creek

Ensure a viable financial future for coalminers

There is a missing link between Joel Fitzgibbon’s argument about supporting mining workers and Labor’s alleged aim of ameliorating climate change. Firstly, develop a transition plan to provide power from renewables, if necessary, integrating this with reducing reliance on coal power and gas. Secondly, ensure the plan is transparent, understandable and communicated to workers in the fossil fuel industry, thus reducing their fear of unemployment. They should be trained to be hired in the new industry. The federal government should financially assist with this training.

Coalminers are not stupid. They know the continuation of their industry is limited due to ageing coal plants. If they could see a viable employment future, they would be more likely to vote for parties which support the transition. We need an end to politicians with self-serving agendas and no vision for Australia’s future.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

The climate emergency is beyond winning votes

No politician of any stripe should determine what action must be taken on climate change with any reference at all to their supporter base and vote gathering. The climate emergency is existential and, therefore, way beyond the importance of the outcome of any election.
Trevor Martin, St Leonards

For the world’s benefit, invest in renewable energy

The row over climate change action in the ALP is ridiculous. Climate change is a prime issue globally and it provides a great opportunity for Australia. We have some of the world’s best potential resources of renewable energy in solar, wind and tidal power.

As Australia struggles to climb out of the COVID-19 crisis and recession, we can invest in renewable energy on a large scale, providing jobs and growth, particularly in Queensland and other remote parts of Australia. We could be exporting renewable energy from inland and northern Australia to our cities and overseas by high-voltage electric cables or as hydrogen or ammonia. The technology is proven and relatively cheap. Our country needs to invest in renewable energy for our own good and that of the world.
Barrie Pittock, Brighton East

Setting a clean energy target by 2050 or sooner

If this pandemic has taught us anything, then surely it is the value of science and the dangers of delaying action when faced with a crisis. Australia is now one of the few countries which has seemingly contained COVID-19, albeit after a steep learning curve which tragically cost too many lives. It is time the federal government joined other countries and set a zero emissions target by 2050 or sooner. Australia needs to fully embrace a clean energy future to avert the risks we face from escalating climate change.
Brenda Tait, Kew

THE FORUM

Gradual erosion of our unis

La Trobe University is being forced to cut Hindi and Indonesian from its suite of languages because they are not ‘‘profitable’’ enough, along with shrinking or abolishing other courses in the humanities, social sciences and education (The Age, 12/11). I lay the blame at the feet of numerous federal governments which, for years, have stripped back funding for higher education and research.

Universities should not be ‘‘making a profit’’ or corporatised. They should be focused on teaching and research on more than just populist or vocational skills. Soon Australia will be a nation of dim-witted, culturally illiterate people. It can expect to have to import scientists, critical thinkers, lateral thinkers and knowledge makers, to name but a few, because we will not be ‘‘creating’’ them. I despair for our future.
Diana Heatherich, Macleod

The forgotten sailors

Two dozen Indian sailors have been stranded for five months at a Chinese port with 170,000 tonnes of Australian coal (The Age, 11/11). Family members of the sailors say medications and supplies are running out. Who else will speak for these sick men? Surely they can be released after all these months. What a nightmare. I hope they are all rescued soon.
Rosaleen O’Brien, Toorak

The well-off can pay levy

The union representing aged care workers wants a rise in the Medicare levy to fund pay increases of at least $5 an hour to avoid a mass exodus from the sector (The Age, 11/11). However, increasing the levy for the working young seems unjust when older, tax-free Australians like myself, the greatest beneficiaries of the health system, are not paying it.

Governments insist that a levy is not a tax, then why not extend it to self-funded retirees? I do not accept the argument that they ‘‘paid tax all their lives’’ and therefore deserve to be exempt from the levy. They need to pull their weight now.
Bronwen Murdoch, South Melbourne

Can MPs live on $40 a day?

Jessica Irvine’s article on the JobSeeker allowance (Comment, 12/11) highlights the injustice of the level of payment to the unemployed and the distress it causes them, as the government continues to wind it back to pre-COVID levels. Perhaps it would help change the government’s thinking if ministers accepted the ‘‘$40 a day for 40 days challenge’’. This could be launched with World Vision’s annual 40-Hour Famine.

Undoubtedly key ministers will be lining up for the opportunity to take part and leave the doubters wondering what all the fuss was about. Each minister would donate their parliamentary salary for the 40 days to this worthy cause. Less, of course, the $40 a day.
Peter Thomas, Pascoe Vale

Help job seekers first

I am baffled by the Coalition setting ‘‘end dates’’ on supplemental income measures as a result of this pandemic. Surely these measures are required for as long as the jobs market conditions exist. No other factor should be at play. Setting end dates is cruel and unnecessary. Does the Coalition think such policies give the impression of it being financially prudent or displaying its good financial stewardship? I suspect it is itching to return the levers of government to normal – letting the jobs ‘‘market’’ handle pesky matters such as whether there are enough actual jobs to meet the number of job seekers.
Daniel Verberne, Croydon

Value the unemployed

I am infuriated by the way our country views and treats the unemployed. I feel embarrassed to see how little we value them. This is a wealthy country and can afford to support all its citizens by providing the means for a decent standard of living. The fact that we do not reflects poorly on us all.
Michael Eland, North Melbourne

Irony of the interruption

The television clip of Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston being asked about the culture towards women in the Liberal Party, but then Scott Morrison interrupting her and taking over, is a classic. Is this what is meant by an own goal?
Elizabeth Healy, Geelong

The deeper, security risk

Though I understand the widespread focus on the hypocrisy of ministers Alan Tudge and Christian Porter’s extra-marital behaviours, we are playing into Scott Morrison’s hands if we do not equally focus on how such behaviour opens up ministers to being influenced by third parties. The claim that their actions are a private matter between consenting adults will, I imagine, be the excuse used to quash this issue, but it does not address the risk to government security that these ministers are creating.
Carolyn Cliff, Armadale

Right to protection

To those who say politicians are human beings and their personal lives should not be aired in public: staffers are human beings and their professional lives should not be subject to the threat of sacking by their predatory bosses.
Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark

So much for integrity

That ‘‘rip rip’’ sound in the parliamentary bubble is from ministers tearing up the government’s code of conduct. If Scott Morrison does not believe in ‘‘the highest possible standards of probity’’, why should they?
Jim Spithill, Ashburton

Hawkie, what a boy

It is a shame for Christian Porter that he was not knocking about in Bob Hawke’s day. Then we could have just passed all of this off as charming, nay, outright legendary larrikinism.
John Skaro, Malvern

The risk to our jobs

Yes, Christine Hammett, ‘‘we can say no and walk away’’ (Letters, 12/11) if we do not mind possibly losing our jobs. Think about how you would feel in the same circumstances, under the same pressure, with a boss who can find an excuse to sack or demote you. And if you complain, it is not only his life that is dragged into the press. It is not as simple as saying, ‘‘it takes two to tango’’, I am afraid.
Sue Bursztynski, Elwood

Let’s waltz along together

Re. the calls to change our national anthem. In 1956, at the closing ceremony of the Melbourne Olympic Games, a choir sang, at a slower and more dignified pace, Waltzing Matilda with alternative words, namely Come Back to Australia. It was very moving and appropriate to the occasion.

This raises the question: Why wasn’t Waltzing Matilda, with alternative words offered as an option in the various polls for a new national anthem? We have some excellent poets in Australia. Everywhere I have been overseas there is widespread recognition of the tune.
Ken Widdowson, Forrest

A truly inspiring anthem

It is interesting to compare the lyrics of our national anthem with those of Iva Davies (Icehouse) in Great Southern Land. It strikes me that national hymns are anachronisms. Advance Australia Fair is a thinly veiled exhortation to exploit our environment to help the British Commonwealth become more famous. Davies writes ‘‘and they make it work with rocks and sand’’ and ‘‘you walk alone with the ghost of time’’. An anthem of a different kind.
Andrew Smith, Leongatha

Lest we forget

Thanks to Ruth Clare (Comment, 11/11) for her Remembrance Day tribute. I have two daughters who also mourn the father they have lost, and the father they may have had. Ruth, congratulations on your courage in writing your story. Hopefully it has helped many families who have had the misfortune to suffer similar experiences. Lest we forget.
Wilma Hills, Echuca

Holding leaders to account

Pru Goward’s piece on Donald Trump (Online, 12/11) makes for disturbing reading. Surely we need to draw a line in the sand as to the standard of behaviour to which we hold our leaders. What example are we setting to the next generation when we accept they will use social media to troll others, throw fuel on the flames of division and ignore facts to create an alternative reality? Thankfully most Americans drew that line in the sand and dismissed him. We should too, and any leader who dares to use the same tactics.
Julie Perry, Highton

Symbolically astute move

In his victory speech, when President-elect Joe Biden quoted from the Biblical hymn, He will raise you up on eagles’ wings, he was showing great political acuity.
He positioned himself as a man of faith and proud to acknowledge it. He hoped to appeal to the religious right, for whom quoting from the Bible is often how faith is expressed. And perhaps most importantly, he positioned himself as a future president for all Americans, for whom the eagle is an important symbol of national unity. Much more symbolically astute than disingenuously holding a Bible in front of St John’s Episcopal Church.
Beverley Campbell, Castlemaine

Trump’s master plan

Robert Jongebreur writes about why Donald Trump has not conceded (Letters, 12/11). In the next few weeks, he will be struck with some serious condition which will require him to hand the remainder of his presidency to Vice-President Mike Pence. It is Pence who will pardon Trump, concede the election and manage the duties of the outgoing president until Inauguration Day. No need for Donald John Trump to be seen as a loser. Job done.
Michael Astengo, Dingley Village

Oh, the joy of freedom

With travel restrictions eased in Victoria, we have been able to travel to our holiday home in Rye. I never would have thought I would find pleasure spending a day and a half mowing a quarter of an acre of metre-high grass.
Brian Williams, Vermont

My state, my Victoria

How gracious of Queensland to deign us entry to its state, possibly before Christmas. No thanks. I am staying in Victoria to support Victorians.
Robert Power, Malvern East

AND ANOTHER THING

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Four Corners expose

Tudge, Tudge, wink, wink. Know what I mean?
Mike Smith, Croydon

Well, as a member of the public, I sure do find all of this pretty interesting.
Ellen Brennan, Castlemaine

Surely, in the interests of impartiality, Four Corners could have included an opposition MP.
Mary Cole, Richmond

Any hope of an increase to the ABC’s budget just flew over the cuckoo’s nest.
Alan Williams, Port Melbourne

So some women are so ‘‘bruised by the experience they quit politics’’ (11/11). Was Rachelle Miller bullied into an affair with Tudge?
Marie Elliott, Torquay

Politics

‘‘Pay support cuts herald return to poverty line’’ (12/11)? Pensioners never left it.
Helen Moss, Croydon

Job seekers, beware the Ides of March.
Paul Wells, Bendigo

Why doesn’t Trump just admit defeat? He’s not ‘‘aBiden’’ by the rules.
Peter Junker, Churchill

Donald, sorry to have to break it you but you’re a dead duck.
Astrid Browne, Wantirna South

Is Trump as nice as he seems in all his lawsuits?
Brad Fahrney, Clifton Hill

Joel Fitzgibbon, shadow minister for undermining, chooses self-preservation over ecological preservation.
Graham Cadd, Dromana

Coronavirus

One advantage of wearing masks correctly in summer: you won’t swallow a fly.
Judy Martin, McCrae

Can Josh and Greg’s Victorian relatives tell them that as of Wednesday, we’ve had 12 double doughnut days.
Jenny McGuirk, Bundoora

If Daniel’s the hero, who was the villain?
David Cayzer, Clifton Hill

Can I trade in an almost pristine 2020 diary for a discount on a 2021 one?
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton

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