Letters to the Editor
What Australia needs in this superficial political landscape is reliable and independent information on environmental issues, which the Climate Commission has provided since it began in 2011. The scrapping of the Climate Commission comes as no surprise from a climate-change agnostic (at best) Prime Minister, but at a tax saving of $586,000 this financial year - adding up to a saving of a few cents per Australian taxpayer - surely the benefits of the organisation outweigh the costs.
This petty gesture to climate change deniers demonstrates the short-sightedness endemic in Australian politics. As a young person it's scary to see politicians risking our future for short-term political gain.
Normally, young people are the ones typecast as having no concern for what tomorrow will bring, but at the moment we are the ones asking the government to think of the long-term outlook for Australia. Tony Abbott, you're not just cutting departments, you're cutting our future.
Rosina Hawkins, Campbell
So let's hear it, Tony: science is crap!
L.V. Hume, Lyneham
It seems apparent from your article ''Scientists query portfolio's position'' (September 17, p4) that the leading spokesmen for science in Australia professors Brian Schmidt and Gus Nossal have been somewhat intimidated by the advent of the new government and the new prime minister in their remarks over the total omission of a dedicated science and technology portfolio from the ministry, the outer ministry and even the parliamentary secretaries.
Nor is it without irony that it has fallen to a woman, the head of Science and Technology Australia, Catriona Jackson, to emphasise that ''science and technology are central to virtually everything government does from industry to universities to agriculture, to health,'' to employment for a prosperous nation.
Perhaps then in this bleak-seeming scene, might we cherish the hope that the Prime Minister intends to follow the example of the British government where ''chief scientists'' are scattered successfully through all the major departments of state?
Ann Moyal, Bruce
Discussion of the composition of cabinet and the outer ministry could be further advanced by noting Philip Womack's review of Peter Jones' Veni, Vidi, Vici: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Romans but Were Afraid to Ask (2013) in the Literary Review (September 2013).
''Readers will be delighted to discover that as well as the main Roman gods (Jupiter, Juno, etc.), there existed a panoply of minor deities, such as Runcina, the goddess of weeding, Stercutus, the god of spreading muck, and Cloacina, whose sewer presiding powers were of much importance to the great city.''
In a mischievous aside and gods notwithstanding, I can't resist Mr Womack's reference to the author's ''demotic style'' and Jones' references to Seneca as a ''millionaire philosopher'', Octavian as ''rather a dour man, though of reptilian cunning'', and Ovid ''as the performing flea of Roman poetry''. Perhaps, in this regard, Karr is right, ''plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose'' (the more it changes, the more it's the same thing).
Jan Baker, Chapman
In 1774 James Watt invented the steam engine, powered by ancient solar energy stored in coal, derived through photosynthesis via chlorophyll. The outcome was the unsustainable carbon-based Industrial Revolution which has conferred many benefits on humankind.
Adversely were initially appalling living conditions and particulate smogs in the ''dark satanic mills'' of England, currently replicated in Newcastle, NSW by the effects on the respiratory system of dust from the endless trundling of open coal trucks, exporting to insatiable Asian markets the illusionary benefits of the IR.
More dangerous to humanity and the biosphere has been pollution of the atmosphere by carbon dioxide resulting from the prodigious combustion by humans of fossil fuels, leading with 95 per cent scientific certainty to global warming and associated more intense firestorms currently being experienced in Australia, according to Wayne Smith (''The right climate for action'', Times 2, September 16, p1).
Emergency action is required to keep warming below an irreversible 2 degrees. According to Clive Hamilton's book Earth Masters - Playing God with the Climate, this could be achieved through geo-engineering. According to James Hanson of NASA, the answer lies in a new IR based on a photon economy rather than a carbon economy. This requires conservation rather than destruction of soils and vegetation, supplemented by the nascent science of artificial photosynthesis. Failure to achieve this new IR could spell the end of civilisation.
Bryan Furnass, Hughes
I have been travelling in Newfoundland/Labrador. It is interesting that while Tony Abbott will take Australia back on climate change, people up here recognise that climate change is happening. A woman in Labrador told me that she bought a skidoo for her child before last winter but it was never used because of lack of snow. A scallop fisherman told me that sea temperatures this summer reached 18 degrees. Temperatures are usually about 3 degrees.
What is happening in Australia? A climate change denier is voted in as PM and is going to abolish all rational policies to deal with climate change.
The Australian media seems supine - unlike the way they dealt with Labor - no more vitriolic attacks on our macho PM. Oh no - he is going build roads everywhere, cut back River Murray water buybacks and introduce a one-stop-shop lowest common denominator environmental approvals. He must be OK!
Rod Holesgrove, Newfoundland, Canada
Lost in translation
Doug Thompson (Letters, September 16) reminds us of the famous words of the Roman poet Horace in his Odes: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (how sweet and fitting it is to die for the fatherland). But Doug substitutes the word ''ecologia'' for the word ''patria''. Doug seems to think that the word ecology is from Latin but in fact it is pure Greek, from ''oikos'' meaning house or environment, and comes to us via 19th century German. As the 18th century Oxford scholar Martin Routh always said to his students: Verify your quotations.
Robert Willson, Deakin
Bigotry to the fore
If Hamish Boland-Rudder (''Bishop calls for a moratorium'', September 18, p1) has quoted the incoming Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn correctly, then the latter should be ashamed of himself. The bishop has asked for a ''moratorium'' to ''stop the passage'' of same-sex marriage laws, so they can be discussed ''in a more reasoned way''. He stated that the debate around such legislation took a ''narrow view''. What this means is unstated. He is also quoted as stating this debate is happening ''when married life … and family life are at a very fragile moment''.
Whatever the discussion he wishes to have, nobody could be in any doubt that he will not be swayed by any of it. These ''arguments'' are typical of the superficially reasoned arguments that the religious use in an attempt to entrench their bigotry.
John Laurie, Weston
All God's children
I read W.B. Wills' letter (September 18) with some dismay as he called our local ministers fools, cocky, ignorant and even evil for their intention to legislate to allow gay marriage.
Mr Wills describes Australia as ''his country'', but he is mistaken there, it is ''our country'' and the ACT's democratically elected government is even more ours as Mr Wills resides in Cooma North.
Australia is not a country that is fundamentally of one religion, one colour or indeed one sexual persuasion. What we want from our government is a set of laws that are fair, just and inclusive and it appears that our local government is keen to deliver just that. It may well be that Mr Wills' God does not love people for who they are but I'd like to think that we as individuals and as a community can set the bar a little higher and watch his God catch up.
Mal Wilson, Campbell
The system works
Suggestions that a qualifying threshold apply for Senate elections fail to understand how much the unjustifiable alternatives of near-compulsory complete marking of individual preferences have perverted the proper operation of the single transferable vote. They also overlook how a handful of votes near an arbitrary threshold swung several seats for two elections running under the farcical modified d'Hondt system.
By contrast, under our Hare-Clark system, since 1995 it has been straightforward to vote formally so there have been no incentives for the furious formation of parties with catchy titles to try to harvest and tightly circulate votes.
With Robson Rotation in place, parties with strong support have usually had several candidates near the quota towards the end of the scrutiny, making it impossible for anyone with few first preferences to gradually be hoisted up past their progress totals and get elected.
Bogey Musidlak, convener, Proportional Representation Society of Australia (ACT Branch)
I note that Barnaby Joyce, now member for New England, has continued to have a regular column published in The Canberra Times.
I assume that he has received the privilege of publication to ensure representation of the political views of the National Party, not because of his expertise on particular issues (on some matters he is clearly ill-informed), or because of his graceful, thought-provoking literary style.
If that is in fact the case, I strongly recommend The Canberra Times extend a similar invitation to the ALP, Liberal Party and the Greens to ensure a degree of political balance.
Doug Hynd, Stirling
To the point
IGNORING THE OBVIOUS
So, Tony Abbott has shut down the Climate Commission. In ignoring an obvious great threat he is Australia's Neville Chamberlain.
Tony Howard, Dickson
Citizen Murdoch called Mr Abbott a conviction politician. Dismissing Tim Flannery and axing climate-change bodies show this is correct.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
TOO LATE TO CHANGE
I wonder how many Australians are now wishing that they could turn back their votes.
Alex Ritchie, Fraser
The arrogance of the new Coalition government, especially Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, is breathtaking. Australia was negotiating with Indonesia to determine if we could come up with actions suitable to both parties in the refugee boats saga. What Australia is now saying is it is too bad if Indonesia doesn't agree, we are going to do what we want anyway.
Vic Adams, Reid
MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS
May I suggest to W.B. Mills of Cooma North (Letters, September 18) that the actions of the ACT government on the issue of marriage equality or, indeed, any other issue in regard to governance in the ACT, are, as you have no right to vote in the ACT, none of your business?
Paul McElligott, Aranda
RANTS OUT OF PLACE
Please give us a break from the rants of H. Ronald, who, I have no doubt, would be welcomed with open arms somewhere further north, perhaps by the Palmer United Party?
Chris Bell, Pearce
CONSIDER A TRANSFER
Perhaps James O'Connor should transfer from rugby union to rugby league.
P.J. Carthy, McKellar
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