Time for a change

Time for a change

I was excited to read Donald Anton's piece ("A case for climate litigation", Times2, July 3, p1) on the ruling of the district court in The Hague ordering the Dutch government to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions. Down Under we have a federal government stubbornly resisting any meaningful action to reduce our emissions. Scientific facts on global warming are rejected and public protests are ignored while sections of the media give credibility to crackpots claiming a conspiracy of "lefties" and the UN are sneakily plotting a new world order.

Something must be done and perhaps a similar case could be brought in the Australian legal system? I suggest GetUp as coordinator – they have a large network of supporters and the media savvy. Bring out Geoffrey Robertson and Amal Clooney for top-notch legal expertise and the international publicity they would generate.


It would cost a bob or two but I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is. Who will join me?

Heather Stewart, Weston


It is ironic that the Dutch Government has been ordered to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions in the Netherlands from 14-17 per cent to 25 per cent by 2020, while Australian plans to attain a mere 5 per cent reduction based on 1990 levels remains uncriticised by the district court in the Hague ("A case for climate litigation", Times 2, July 3, p1).

In fact we are moving in the opposite direction to that required by global mitigation strategies, by planning to plunder the massive coal reserves in central Australia, promoting cracking for coal seam gas, by reducing the cap on renewable energy technologies, and by our prime minister colourfully and inaccurately describing climate change as "crap" and coal as a "boon to humanity", betraying his addiction to short-term economic rationalism as the main indicator of human "progress", regardless of its environmental consequences.

Despite being the largest per capita greenhouse gas emitter and the greatest potential developer of renewable energy technologies, particularly for solar thermal, windpower, wave and tidal power energy generation and collective storage capacity on a 24/7 basis, and potential for employment and export of renewable energy, our government persists in looking backwards into the 20th century.

Leading NASA scientist James Hansen calls for a transition from a carbon to a photon economy, and the chief economist of the International Energy Agency states "public enemy No. 1 for renewable energy development is fossil fuel subsidy". If it fails to pay its fair share of climate change mitigation by the time of the Paris Climate Change Conference in December, the Australian government will have much egg to remove from its face.

Bryan Furnass, Hughes

Road safety first

I thought that the NRMA had road safety at the top of its agenda. Clearly it doesn't when it supports drug testing laws resulting in conviction and suspension of drivers involved in a collision without any fault on their part and while not under the influence of any drug.

Kate Lundy (Letters, July 3) is right that it is very dangerous to get behind the wheel while under the influence of an illicit drug but no more so than being under the influence of alcohol or indeed any number of performance impairing prescription medications misused by many elderly drivers.

As a 70-year-old I must always bear in mind that I am at the threshold of an age group that "is at higher risk ... of being killed in a crash than any other age group". All of us have an obligation never to drive while under the influence of any drug, illicit or otherwise. The NRMA would far better advance its charter by promoting car sharing arrangements rather than going after faultless younger drivers.

Bill Bush, Turner

Watchdog a good idea

Barrister Jack Pappas makes some very good points about the need for some type of independent oversight of decisions by the DPP ("Time to appoint a watchdog", Times 2, July 6, p1).

Unfortunately his missive only presents one side of the picture. As decisions by the DPP can be questionable, so too can decisions and actions taken by defence counsel. Defence counsel decisions, tactics and behaviour can unnecessarily prolong legal proceedings.

This type of behaviour costs the ACT taxpayers dearly, not to mention the emotional cost to those involved. Defence counsel, no doubt, regularly face ethical dilemmas in defending the guilty. Mr Pappas' business slogan is "Every knot was once straight rope". So true. It is equally true that "Every straight rope can be turned into a knot".

T.J. Farqahar, Ainslie

No government help

Now that the addresses of the Mr Fluffy homes have been made public, it might be time for the ACT government to tell us how long they have had this list. Most of us know someone who has extended or renovated homes, over the past few years, with the work approved; but without a warning of the still existing dangers.

With the first publicised demolition of a Mr Fluffy house, (although not really the first as some homeowners chose to demolish their homes privately sooner than lose their land); the enormous cost of this project and the corresponding financial burden is again in the spotlight.

This burden is the result of accepting a repayable loan, instead of demanding a grant, from the Federal Government which was bound to a Commonwealth indemnity to the ACT Government in the Memorandum of Understanding at the time of the asbestos "clean-up" in the 1980s.

The ACT has been subject to two extraordinary disasters already this century – some 500 homes lost in the fire and not one saved by government action; and the asbestos problem with its enormous costs. On neither occasion have we been well served by the authorities.

R. and D. Budd, Curtin

Look at the statistics

It may be unconventional to use facts when arguing something, but it sometimes has merit. The turnout in the May 22 Irish referendum on marriage equality was 60 per cent, somewhat undermining John Popplewell's claim (Letters, July 7) that "the overwhelming majority could not be bothered to vote".

For sure, there's probably a fair proportion of people not registered to vote, but to put the referendum in perspective, the turnout at the 2011 Irish general election was 70 per cent, in 2007 it was 67 per cent and in 2002 it was 63 per cent.

Peter Marshall, Captains Flat, NSW

Prime Minister's critics will get their say at ballot box next year

Every day, we read in the media savage criticism of Tony Abbott and his government. I think that those who do not have a good word to say about our Prime Minister should take a reality check. To disagree with some of his policies is our democratic right, but we should remember a few facts.

The Abbott government is only in power because of the democratic will of the Australian people. Next year, we will have a chance to pass judgment on our government at the ballot box.

The job of being Prime Minister is extremely difficult and complex. Would those who mindlessly attack him want to take on his job? He will never please everybody, but he has achievements to his credit.

European states facing the flood of refugees are deeply impressed with the Abbott government's successful record of stopping the people-smuggling rackets that have cost many lives, and in making our national borders secure.

The Abbott government is struggling to reduce the national debt that threatens our prosperity. Would the present opposition and alternative government really do better in these areas? I think their track record is less than impressive.

By all means criticise Tony Abbott in an informed way, but give him a fair go.

Robert Willson, Deakin

Authoritarian rule

Although the ABC may have been unwise to have Zaky Mallah on Q&A, the mistake hardly requires government interference or heads to roll. The Abbott government again is attacking and vilifying anyone or any organisation that dares criticise it or express an opinion contrary to the one it holds.

The tendency of this government to try to shut down any criticism, rather than examine it to see if there are worthwhile ideas to consider, seems alarmingly similar to the behaviour in many authoritarian governments in the world. Nicholas Stuart ("Is democracy on the retreat", Times2, July1, p1) wonders whether democracy is on the retreat worldwide. Unfortunately, it seems to be under threat here in Australia under this government.

Colleen Foster, Bywong, NSW

Greeks show the way

We have a situation where our professional politicians angrily face off over gay marriage, which, with due respect, has no material impact on the living standards of Australians.

In addition, they are treating the need to acknowledge Aboriginal possession and sovereignty over Australia like the proverbial hot potato.

One could get a bit disheartened over the state of democracy until we see Greek politicians having the courage to ask the people of that country for their opinion on an issue that will have a major impact on their lives. Who would have thought.

Paul Huard, Watson

Forward to the past

In a bold leap into the 19th century, the Abbott government has committed $200million to building northern dams that will lose increasing amounts of water and money under a warming climate it doesn't believe in.

Under its new policy of "infrastructural anachronism", the government will also re-equip the RAAF with Sopwith Camels. RAN frigates were to gain three masts for aeolian propulsion; however, the PM and Treasurer found the masts "ugly", so the vessels will be fitted with oars. For the army, "Operation Broadsword" will ensure contemporary munitions, while facilitating the rolling of dissident heads.

Mr Abbott complimented Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull on achieving Third World internet speeds. However, in a new initiative, broadband is now to be replaced with a Cobb & Co network, creating thousands of new jobs in the vital ostlery and haymaking sectors.

Under the government's "Brown Army" plan, unemployed Australians – along with redundant climate scientists – will be issued with shovels for work in the mines, because coal "has a big future" – even if humanity and the Great Barrier Reef don't.

"FreeSpeak Certificates" will be granted to hand-picked members of Team Australia, conferring the exclusive freedom to talk arrant nonsense on anything that comes into their heads. The rest of you will button your lips and do as you're bloody well told. Or a vacation on Manus isn't out of the question.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

Eurozone crisis

As an economist, I have watched in disbelief the antics of Greece and the European Union. Why Greece was allowed into the EU in the first place escaped me, but to then feed it more and more funds shows just how dumb the European banks and the IMF are. Greece should have been dumped from the EU five years ago, but so-called astute European bankers kept offering more glasses of water to drowning Greek governments.

Ric Hingee, Duffy

The editorial ("Greece is damned either way", Forum, July4, p5) concluded: "Any objective evaluation of Greece's current situation would conclude it was better off out of the eurozone." The same applies to the eurozone, despite Germany's aspirations.

Just as it did with France a few years ago, Europe will survive another socialist state as Greece once again refuses to pay its debts.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Cost of renewables

Mark Diesendorf ("Goodbye to coal power as renewables take its place", Times2, p5, July6) seems unable to see the economic costs of his renewables vision. Australia's wind generation has a capacity factor of 25per cent (Australian Energy Market Operator) and solar about 15per cent. Wind generation is about 2.5times the cost per KWh and solar about 4.5times that of coal-fired electricity, according to a Canberra Times article. Both require backup fossil-fuelled generators to fill in when the wind doesn't blow and/or at night or cloudy conditions. Energy storage systems are not free. All of this means that his vision is actually an economic nightmare for electricity users.

Without the word limit for letters, I would tackle the large number of untruths and half-truths in this article. Mark's vision will not occur, because our country will be on its knees and not be able to continue long before it's fruition.

J. McKerral, Batemans Bay, NSW

Kanga Cup not place for raunchy dancing

Gold Coast Titans cheerleaders perform during an NRL match.

Sunday's otherwise wonderful opening ceremony of the Kanga Cup was marred by a sexualised dancing presentation directly in front of our junior soccer players.

In the freezing cold, a group of prim young women in cheerleader costumes thrust their bottoms, chests and midriffs in the general direction of impressionable children. Shame on the event's organisers for allowing this spectacle.

I suggest that minister Shane Rattenbury, seated in the front row, gently advise the Kanga Cup committee that the ACT government, as a major sponsor, will not look kindly on this sort thing taking place in future.

Henry Gardner, Turner

A hero mourned

Sir Nicholas Winton died last week, aged 106. He saved 669 Czech children, mostly Jews, as the Nazis overran Europe.

I wonder what he would think of a place where professionals are mandated to report child abuse in their own country, yet could be put in jail for doing so for children under their care in a detention centre based in another country.

Perhaps he might quote from Isaiah 1:17 "Learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless; plead the widow's cause". We could do with more of his like.

Ann Darbyshire, Gunning, NSW

Sympathy for Kyrgios

The difference between Nick Kyrgios and me, other than the huge gulf in talent and money, is that what he does in his workplace is seen by millions. When I'm acting the goat at work, I'm not being filmed.

Beneath the showmanship and strutting lies a decent young man. I don't reckon he's got a malicious bone in his body. For goodness sake, give him some room to breathe and grow and be 20.

Peter Day, Queanbeyan, NSW



I refer to the article "Australia should not legalise same-sex marriage because Asia hasn't: Eric Abetz" (canberratimes.com.au, July2). Perhaps the Abbott government should reintroduce capital punishment, in order to conform more closely to the practices of our Asian neighbours. In any event, the efforts currently under way to rule in secrecy and to silence the media constitute a good start.

Peter Grabosky, Forrest


Before the Parliament debates any same-sex marriage legislation, all members of the House should use their not inconsiderable postal allowance to conduct a simple plebiscite of all of the voters in their electorate: "Do you want me to vote yes or no to same-sex marriage?" Our MPs should share these results with their Senate colleagues and then vote accordingly. This is a true conscience vote.

Graeme Rankin, Holder


"What would Confucius say about gay marriage?" (Forum, July4, p6). Confucius, he say: "Man who marry other man not have to worry about leaving toilet seat up."

Bill Deane, Chapman


As homeowners, we should not be excited about the apparent increase in the value of Fluffy streets ("Value of Fluffy streets to soar", July 4, p1). The increase is only of value to developers, the government and those in the area who are selling. The rest of us who like our houses and have no intention of leaving are left behind to pay the rate hike driven up by someone else making a profit.

Joe Murphy, Bonython


Human-induced climate change is a crime against humanity and an act of terrorism that violates global security. Through its vandalism of renewable-energy targets and its ongoing support for the fossil-fuel industry, our government is manifestly culpable. Why should it not be answerable to the International Court of Justice?

Bob Douglas, Aranda


The Calabrian Mafia is known as the "Honoured Society". It has certainly been honoured by the Liberal Party.

Richard Keys, Ainslie


How refreshing would it be for Australian tennis to unearth another Ken Rosewall with a temperament and character commensurate with an outstanding tennis ability?

Tony May, Pearce

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).