I have just heard Anthony Albanese express the view volunteer firefighters and emergency workers should not be left out of pocket as a result of helping to save the lives and property of the rest of us.
I couldn't agree more.
The experts warn this year's prolonged fire season is expected to become the "new norm" and we cannot expect volunteers to continue giving so much of their time free of charge.
So perhaps it is now time to institute a National Bushfire Levy to help reimburse these people.
A precedent has already been set in recent times with the Queensland Flood Levy.
However, in this case it would have to be permanent and be a national scheme on which all states and territories could draw.
Neil Lacey, Curtin
Smell the leadership
Prime Minister Morrison refused to meet with the group of former fire and emergency chiefs, the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action, preferring to take a holiday in Hawaii while the country he supposedly leads endures a bushfire and climate change crisis. Labor's shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers is right to call Mr Morrison's dismissive attitude to the fire experts "shameful in the extreme".
Morrison's lack of leadership stands in stark contrast to New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's caring and selfless response to the Whakaari volcano disaster. This leadership vacuum has forced the emergency leaders group to step up and call for stronger government action on climate change, which they, unlike the PM and many of his ministers, recognise as a chief cause of the present bushfire crisis ("Former fire chiefs could go it alone on crisis", December 18, p7).
The call by the emergency leaders for a national emergency summit is eminently sensible, and has been welcomed by the Labor's Jim Chalmers. However, Water Minister David Littleproud trots out the tired old line that Australia is already doing its bit in emissions reduction when the reality is vastly different.
Australia may meet its demonstrably inadequate Paris agreement target, but only by using carry-over carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol, an accounting trick that all but 5 countries, at most, regard as "cheating". It leaves Australia with no moral authority to call for climate action from other countries, and is an open invitation for other recalcitrant nations to follow suit.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Call the experts
Section 51 of the Australian Constitution makes provision for, in the event of a threat to national security, a limited transfer of executive power/s to appropriate administrators or delegates.
The High Court emphasises the purpose of this section, that is, the defence of Australia. Irrefutably, the current bushfire emergency that has already incurred significant economic and environmental losses is also a threat to national security.
We are as a nation, immersed in the intense heat of defending life, property and natural resources. The potential incursion of fires into coal mining pits and power stations exacerbates this threat - albeit the ageing infrastructure virtually obsolete.
We are aware that former fire chiefs attempted unsuccessfully, to garner the attention and support of the Prime Minister to act quickly and spend from the national account for more fire-fighting assets.
This Emergency Leaders for Climate Action Group may just be the tip of the iceberg of concerned, conscionable and effective professionals who are sufficiently experienced and capable of making decisions under Section 51.
Fire chiefs, defence leaders co-opting serving troops and reservists along with a defacto civilian defence force comprised of volunteer firefighters and the SES for example, may be an essential part of the equation to future proof Australia.
Given the science indicates that regenerating the continental "soil carbon sponge" through reforestation and in so doing seed clouds for precipitation, coupled with "cool night burns" to further reduce forest floor fuel loads, there is much work to be done to recreate, healthy fire-resilient ecosystems across the country.
These measure are about common sense, science and commitment. More importantly, they are about vision and timely leadership based on knowledge and accurate advice.
The best people to effect this leadership is an executive group of emergency leaders, scientists and military strategists. If there was ever a time for a government to exercise Section 51 of the Australian Constitution, it is now.
Acacia Rose, Alpine Riverkeeper,
Pride and prejudice
Bill Arnold (Letters, December 17) accused Jennifer Killen of prejudice for supporting the Palestinian position on their traditional Muslim lands of over a thousand years. In doing so Bill Arnold was just as prejudicial in supporting the Zionist position.
In 1948 the UN split the Trustee Territory of Palestine into two states, the original Palestine and a Jewish one subsequently named Israel. This breached its charter as it was not supported by over 70 per cent of the population.
The UN allocated 57 per cent of the land to the Jewish state although Jews were only some 24 per cent of the population of the proposed two states.
According to independent historians it was a large land theft from the Palestinian people by primarily non-Middle East Jews believing in Zionism.
Latter Israel military occupied much of the 43 per cent allocated to the Palestinians.
This included 5000 sq km directly west of the River Jordan, known as Cisjordan, which Israel refers to as the West Bank following its temporary illegal occupation.
As of 2018 it had an estimated population of 2.8 million Palestinians, and 600,000 Israeli Jewish settlers.
The international community considers these Jewish settlements illegal under international law.
The International Court of Justice advisory ruling concluded that events that came after its 1967 occupation by Israel, including its peace treaty with Jordan and the Oslo Accords, did not change the status of the Palestinian land from occupied territory with Israel as the occupying power.
That is the current legal situation, without prejudice by either Jewish or Palestinian supporters.
Paul Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla
I drove down to Kambah recently and was stunned to see the grass mown.
This amazed me because several letter writers and friends of mine had been bitterly complaining about how they paid rates but didn't get their verges mowed.
Strangely, I haven't seen a single letter from any of these complainants to acknowledge that their pleas had been heard and their suburbs were safe from the imminent vegetation onslaught.
Maybe a few of those loud voices might like to give thanks to the things they get?
Paul Wayper, Cook
Time for a change
As Australia experiences increasingly hotter days, I believe it is time to rethink the time spent at work or study, for our comfort and health.
As a "siesta" time as in some European countries would disrupt the working day, I suggest the usual hours for work/school be changed to the cooler times of day, for example 6am to 2pm for workers and 6am to midday for school students.
This would be beneficial for the health of the community and reduce dependence on energy used for air conditioning.
Mary Samara-Wickrama, Weston
The ocean threat
ABC's 7.30 on December 18 showed houses in Australian coastal communities being threatened by rising sea levels.
The advice from our federal government to other Pacific Islanders facing similar problems was to come and pick our fruit, suggesting that our politicians can't understand the seriousness of the problem.
Small wonder that some former fire chiefs have created an Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group. ("Former fire chiefs could go it alone on crisis", December 18, p7).
What a relief to have some responsible people at the helm. I have some suggestions for them.
Jeremy Rifkin's book The New Green Deal reveals how rapidly businesses and other governments are responding to the opportunities that the new renewable technologies are offering.
Ross Garnaut would be a useful addition to the Emergency Leaders' group. His book Superpower shows that we could really benefit economically from joining in this new trend.
Coal miners' unions are worried because some renewable energy companies employ fly-in overseas workers, giving them poor wages and conditions.
The book Innovation and Equality by Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh insists that new innovations, such as renewables, should be introduced in a way that enhances equality.
That way, if new opportunities enable Australia to become a superpower, then all of us could benefit instead of some getting very rich while others work in wretched conditions or become homeless.
Rosemary Walters, Canberra
TO THE POINT
AN EXCELLENT IDEA
I propose that the government offers every volunteer firefighter not only an official thank-you, but a voucher for a holiday break at taxpayer expense, once the fire threats ease.
Is it too much to hope our Prime Minister, refreshed from his holiday with his family, will feel that these volunteers, who are indeed deserving, should have one too?
Sue Brudenall, Crace
YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP
Oh the irony.
While Australia burns and struggles to breathe, and while families mourn the deaths and injuries of loved ones on White Island, Scott Morrison reportedly goes to Hawaii, one of the most active volcanic regions on the planet, where whole neighbourhoods have been rendered uninhabitable by smoke and lava. For a holiday.
K Hagon, Scullin
STAY AWAY SCOMO
Why would anyone want Morrison back?
All he does is fiddle with numbers and ask how good is everything.
The media seems more honest without him.
Peter Latona, Macgregor
What a pathetic excuse: "The leave had been arranged some time ago". If an emergency crops up you pick up the phone: "Sorry, I will have to cancel flights and accommodation". How easy is that?
Mike Lynch, Isaacs
For lovers of history the year ends on a challenging note. Did the Emperor Nero actually stay around to watch Rome burn or did he skive off with the family to somewhere a bit cooler like Actium?
Government records go back a long way. Perhaps someone in PM&C can requisition the relevant file?
Bob Bennett, Wanniassa
THE 64 CENT QUESTION
I wonder which is causing greater damage to the fabric of our nation; climate change or climate alarmism?
John K. Layton, Holt
I'LL GO WHEN GRETA DOES
Some of us have no sense of humour when it comes to Greta Thunberg. Eric Hunter (Letters, December 17) thinks I'm a "bitter old man" who should go back to school. I'll go - when Greta goes.
Mark Sproat, Lyons
WHAT WE WANT
I am appalled by the likes of Norm Lee, who believes criticism of Morrison is due to people being sore losers following the election.
No. People simply want Morrison to take a modest step to the left, recognise climate change is real, that something concrete needs to be done, to fund the RFS appropriately, and show some leadership. Most unlikely I'd say.
Neil Wilson, Turner
STEP IT UP SCOMO
Norman Lee (Letters, December 12) wants ScoMo's critics to "get over" Labor's election loss.
People criticise ScoMo precisely because they accept that he is our Prime Minister and we want him to get on with providing evidence-based government instead of clichés, sound bites and culture wars.
At least he finally realised it was a mistake to take an overseas holiday at this time of crisis.
John Hutchison, Coombs
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