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Climate bill a chance to build a strong economy
US President-elect Joe Biden is committed to strengthening the global response to tackle climate change.
Federal independent MP Zali Steggall’s climate change bill, introduced to Parliament on Monday, offers the government and opposition a constructive plan to build a strong Australian economy for the forthcoming renewable era, to demonstrate Australia’s strong support for Biden’s policy and to steer us away from the fossil fuel-based backwaters of global irrelevance.
The government must grasp this opportunity.
Christopher Young, Surrey Hills
Our lip service is shamefully inadequate
Further to the letter from John Johnson (The Age, 9/11), with the departure of America’s climate change denier-in-chief, Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins far-right President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil as the only two significant greenhouse gas emitters that refuse to take realistic action on climate change. Brazil is actually increasing its emissions, mainly by burning its Amazon rainforests, while Australia pays only lip service to climate action.
The Morrison government’s Paris emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030 is shamefully inadequate, and its aim for net-zero carbon emissions in the second half of the century is an offence to the more than 70 nations that have committed to adopting a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. China, with its huge population and enormous economic momentum, has pledged net-zero emissions by 2060.
But even 2050 could be too late: the Climate Council insists that emissions must reach net-zero by 2030 if we are to have a realistic chance of meeting the Paris target of limiting global warming to 1.5
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
We must join the carbon fight
We were very disappointed to hear Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s qualified support for President-elect Joe Biden’s climate agenda. Over the past four years, the battle for our planet has been set back seriously by Donald Trump’s administration. Similarly, our own government’s climate repair policy has been weak and retrograde. This is a deep public shame that the Prime Minister has brought on all Australians and we must hold him to account.
We must now join with President-elect Biden in the world’s fight for urgent and honest carbon-neutrality targets, renewable energy and sustainability. We can do this. The Prime Minister is in the chair, and we call on him to live up to the values he publicly espouses and act now in the interests of current and future humanity and the planet we hold in trust.
If he counters the forces of denial and greed that shackle us to a carbon-based economy, he can help us be proud again of Australia as a morally acceptable citizen of the world.
As a grandmother deeply imbued with the values of my Christian upbringing, I plead with him to truly represent us and our future generations in this global task.
Lynda Campbell, Ascot Vale
Going ‘all in’ would not be a gamble
I endorse the sentiments in Neil Wilkinson’s letter (“Australia could be in for a shock”, 9/11). Rather than being shocked by anything President-elect Joe Biden might suggest, our Prime Minister might instead shock Biden back, “see” his low-carbon electricity by 2035 and “raise” his all-economy target of zero emissions by 2050 to something more ambitious.
The think tank ClimateWorks, in its revised study Decarbonisation Futures (March, 2020), finds that Australia could do this if government policy, technology progress, businesses and individuals were to combine forces in an “all in” manner.
Far from being a gamble, it has been calculated that such action would result in costs to the economy much lower than the future costs of climate change absent timely mitigation.
John Gare, Kew East
Make them want to vote
Your correspondent (Letters, 9/11) says that we should be thankful for compulsory voting given the low voter turnout in America.
Almost all the other major Western democratic countries around the world have non-compulsory voting, including the UK, Canada, US, New Zealand, France and Germany.
We live in a democratic society with many rights and freedoms, yet these values are at odds with being forced to vote at elections when many are not interested, going by the number of fines, informal votes and donkey votes.
Voter turnout in the 2020 New Zealand election was 82 per cent, despite voting being optional. In the 2017 Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, voter turnout was an impressive 80 per cent despite voting being voluntary.
This shows that if the issues are important enough and you get the public engaged, people will make the effort to vote without the need for a stick.
We shouldn’t make people vote … we should make them want to vote.
David Charles, Newtown
The tax-cut folly
Congratulations to all those receiving tax cuts, much of which will unfortunately not see the cash registers of businesses that sorely need it. Commiserations to the majority of Australians, who won’t receive a windfall, but would have spent it if they had.
The International Monetary Fund has called for governments to reduce the spread of incomes between rich and poor, noting that growth of nations is inhibited by the lower-paid being unable to power the economy with their spending, while the higher paid want to park their money in economically unproductive situations such as a bigger house or higher-priced shares.
Our current government has not read the memo, or is still stuck in the thrall of the privileged. Sadly for Australia’s recovery, there seems no way to remove the blinkers.
John Pinniger, Fairfield
A window of opportunity
The Overton window is the concept used to describe the range of ideas that voters find acceptable for consideration. As Sean Kelly describes (‘‘Each of us must fight Trumpism’’, Comment, 9/11), Donald Trump shifted the window on many topics.
By refusing to talk about setting a date for Australia becoming carbon neutral our Coalition government has kept the window firmly on time frames, not actual policies or intentions.
The pandemic and the election of Joe Biden will shift the window again. We must hope our Prime Minister will explore the potential of the new view.
Lesley Walker, Northcote
Commit to these things
Sean Kelly’s article is a brilliant and informative commentary for the way forward.
As he stated we have been ‘‘far, far better served than either the UK or the US’’, but we need to be vigilant, because, as has been shown through the Trump years, democracy is a fragile entity that needs constant reflection and nurturing. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris said that we need to choose ‘‘hope, unity, decency, science and truth’’, to which I would add, and not be cowed by bully boys.
One can only encourage Scott Morrison and his government to create a new mantle for themselves and begin to be committed to unity, decency, science and honesty. Then we can all have hope.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley
It’s a bad idea
I am concerned about allowing home quarantine using electronic tracking devices. Quarantine has two aims – to prevent the subject from entering the rest of the population, but also to stop others making contact with the person.
Home quarantine does not in any way ensure the second aim. There is nothing to stop anyone ‘‘dropping in’’ to visit the quarantined person and then going back into society, possibly now with an infection.
It would be like allowing visitors to people in hotel quarantine. Given the number of people who have disregarded COVID-19 health regulations, if this measure is adopted, it will make a third wave in Victoria almost certain.
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick
End this two-horse race
I usually concur with the assessments George Megalogenis makes of the phenomena we are confronted with as a result of our political behaviour.
However, his assessment of the US polarised conduct and paralleled fault lines drawn with Australia (‘‘Polarised: America’s fault lines are ours, too’’, Insight, The Age, 7/11) and several other Anglo-Saxon nations needs expansion.
I certainly would not wish to include a progressive democracy such as New Zealand in the group, but the real culprit of the polarisation Megalogenis refers to is the inanely undemocratic and outmoded adversarial parliamentary ‘‘them and us’’ system based on the Westminister winner-takes-all model.
It’s time for the US, the UK and Australia too to get out of this electoral behaviour mode as it is deficient in fostering a diverse coalescent forum of government that accommodates tolerance and practical co-operation as most western European nations do, including the European Union.
It’s the proportionality of representation that is the art of politics and considered decision making. The US presidential and congressional elections still are a bit like running the Melbourne Cup with just two horses, and the Australian adversariality of choosing governments sadly follows much in that same mode.
Henk van Leeuwen, Elwood
We must get on board
Now that Joe Biden has taken to climate change as an issue to address, our major task is to turn around our federal government, headed by that well-known denier, Scott Morrison and his block-of-coal prop. Surely he knows that it is necessary that we join the rest of the world on this critical matter.
With an angry backbench, he will have to play his cards cleverly otherwise there will be those who will move forward menacingly.
Graeme Lee, Fitzroy
Abandon this course
Our exporters are justifiably angry with the Prime Minister’s verbose posturing as a voice against China. Most worryingly he has support within the party (‘‘Do not cave to Beijing on Trade: Coalition MPs’’, The Age, 7/11).
Australians who have business dealings with the Chinese do not approve of the human rights abuses in China, but nevertheless understand the cultural norms when negotiating in Asia – privacy, tact, courtesy and firmness get results for mutual benefit.
The more prudent course for us in disagreeing with the Chinese regime is to speak collectively with Japan, South Korea, India and our ASEAN neighbours. Then we can apply pressure but not be singled out.
Scott Morrison’s misguided solo acts of publicity following the Trump-Pompeo approach have already cost us dearly and should not be continued, irrespective of the naive, counterproductive antics of some of the Coalition.
John Miller, Toorak
A vote against, not for
Having seen the ‘‘enthusiasm graph’’ on the ABC news coverage (8/11), I think we should be thanking Donald Trump for being as dreadful as he was.
The graph clearly showed that 51 per cent of Democrats cited ‘‘NOT Trump’’ as their primary motivator, and only 49 per cent cited ‘‘YES Biden’’ in his own right as their primary motivator.
Had Trump been only somewhat dreadful, there might not have been enough Democrats galvanised into action to get the them over the line.
Claire Merry, Wantirna
Going out on a limb
A little over a year ago, our Prime Minister went to Washington, where he was flattered and feted by Donald Trump and his chums. Marinated in anti-Chinese sentiment, he returned to Australia and later foolishly went out on a limb, naked and alone, to demand China accept an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
Our relationship with China, already shaky, has deteriorated rapidly since then. Our Prime Minister’s moment of truculence is likely to cost Australia tens of billions of dollars in lost trade.
While dreaming up snarky remarks about what Dan Andrew’s quarantine mistake has cost the economy, perhaps he should look in the mirror for a moment.
Peter Barry, Marysville
Stop being selfish
Victoria, is it really that hard. On Saturday I was at Point Leo. Of all the people I saw, just one was wearing a mask, later, at Mount Martha shops, barely one-third of the people were wearing masks and three young idiots were actually sharing a can of coke between them.
It won’t kill you to wear a mask and it might even save your life. Does anyone really want to go through the past three months again? No? Well try co-operating instead of being selfish.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
My cousin in Wales emailed me saying that they are coming out of a 17-day lockdown but she is not holding her breath that there won’t be further ones.
She said students are still going crazy, people are still meeting in other people’s houses, not everyone is wearing masks and social distancing is not being adhered to, public gatherings are supposedly banned and the conspiracy theorists and civil liberty activists are driving her crazy.
She has only been out nine times since March and four were for medical visits. She is starting to get cabin fever.
She is envious of us here in Victoria. Say no more.
John Cummings, Anglesea
If this is ‘radical’ …
The ‘‘radical progressive agenda’’ that Tom Switzer fears includes Medicare for all (‘‘Actions trump President’s legacy’’, Comment, 9/11).
Do we therefore assume that Switzer would like to get rid of Australia’s universal health insurance, which is essentially the same as the policies argued for by more leftist Democrats?
Dennis Altman, Clifton Hill
AND ANOTHER THING
The US election
Now if only Donald Trump would take his bat and ball and go home.
Elizabeth Chipman, Seaford
Climate scientists were briefly worried by the sudden spike in carbon dioxide emissions, but all was well, it was just most of the world’s population breathing a collective sigh of relief.
Brian Rock, Beechworth
Make America united again.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris
The Deal fell through.
Basil Theophilos, Castlemaine
The American people have spoken in language that the former host of The Apprentice should understand instinctively: ‘‘Donald, you’re fired.’’
Rod Williams, Surrey Hills
The people have spoken, and Donald Trump can’t fire them.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale
If only Scott Morrison were a carbon copy of Joe Biden.
Julia Thornton, Surrey Hills
So, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says that Joe Biden’s election win won’t change Australia’s climate policy. What policy?
Stuart Gluth, Northcote
Angus Taylor’s Technology Investment Roadmap will lead us from stranded assets to empty ports as the rest of the world phases out coal and gas
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South
Now that Donald Trump has been defeated, will Scott Morrison keep wearing baseball caps?
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
Double-digit doughnuts, Victoria. Don’t relax now, don’t drop the ball.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North
Pass-the-pub test? I failed … walked in each time.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda
Why can’t the rich get poorer and the poor get richer?
Barry O’Neill, Menzies Creek
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