A strong university system is an essential for a vibrant and equitable society. The current status of tertiary education in Australia is distressing.
COVID-19 shattered a stressed system, weakened by 25 years of reckless federal cuts, forcing Australian universities to become degree-mills for overseas students. Consequently, Australia is set to recede from the international stage as a leader in science, technology, and innovation.
We are proud alumni of ANU's Research School of Earth Sciences whose stellar faculty grew it into an international powerhouse, responsible for such innovations as the first SHRIMP ion microprobe from which the oldest minerals on Earth and solar system were discovered.
In the absence of federal COVID-19 relief to compensate for decades of neglect, reductions in force are inevitable. That said, we have learned of forced separations of internationally renowned RSES scientists who are critical to achieving the goals laid out in the Managing Change Proposal of ANU's College of Science.
These are intellectual giants in fields ranging from understanding the origin of Earth and Solar System and the origin of ore deposits, the latter of which represents a significant fraction of Australian GDP. It is unfathomable that these prominent scientists would be removed.
Their sackings constitute a severe blow not just to RSES research but to the Earth and planetary sciences within and beyond Australia. It is a truly sad state of affairs!
(The authors are both distinguished professors in the University of California system and members of the US National Academy of Sciences).
Mark Harrison and Roberta
Rudnick, Los Angeles, USA
Stop the scammers
Over the past few months I have received quite a few calls (in Mandarin) threatening Chinese students in Australia with deportation if their parents don't transfer thousands of dollars to nominated bank accounts.
I'm neither Chinese nor a student so that was a waste of time on the part of the scammers.
I recently received a call from a man in Chinese-accented English using words to the effect: "attention, this call is from the legal department of Services Australia that your tax identity number was suspended and we have filed a case under your name so before this matter goes to federal claims court and you get arrested, press 1 to find about your legal case".
This incident has been reported to the appropriate cyber security agency. As far as I'm concerned this incident is laughable. However, if an elderly person received it, not to mention someone with medical issues such as heart problems, the potential for disaster cannot be overstated.
R S Baczynski, Isaacs
Haves and have nots
Many of us are concerned about the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
This gap will continue to grow whilst wage rises are calculated on a percentage basis. We should go back to wage rises based on the CPI. Basic living costs are the same for the poor as they are for the rich.
Jackie Burnett, Bonython
The whole truth
John Murray describes Mohsen Fahkrizadeh, killed in a recent attack, as a "senior Iranian scientist" (Letters, December 3), but he was much more than that.
He was also a senior officer in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
Iran is the world's largest state sponsor of terrorism, arming, funding and largely controlling numerous Middle Eastern terrorist groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Houthis and various militia in Iraq.
It uses these groups to foment conflict and destabilise its neighbours and attack targets all over the world. The Houthis are responsible for the civil war in Yemen, and Hezbollah, as well as turning Lebanon into an Iranian proxy and pointing thousands of missiles at Israel, also played a major role in supporting Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.
The IRGC is responsible for all this activity. It is also behind Iran's illegal nuclear weapons program, and was likely responsible for imprisoning Kylie Moore-Gilbert as a de-facto hostage and her exchange for terrorists who attempted to bomb Israeli diplomats in Thailand.
If killing him set back Iran's nuclear program, it is reasonably seen as an act of self-defence against a dangerous terrorist.
Athol Morris, Forde
Ian MacDougall reminds us that Canberra Hospital used to be on the site of the now Museum of Australia, before the signage was relocated to Woden (Letters, December 3).
Indeed, I still instinctively call Canberra Hospital "Woden Valley Hospital". I learned this is inadvisable when answering the "where are you" question in the concussion test.
Ian Douglas, Jerrabomberra
The sure thing
Paul O'Connor (Letters, December 3), is odds on to win his $50 bet that cartoonist David Pope will not draw a cartoon of our PM that is not snide or hurtful before Christmas.
Mr Pope should, instead, redirect his substantial talents towards depicting China's Xi Jinping in a poor light. There is plenty of material to work on.
He even has the chance to prove that Australia can match, or even surpass, anything that China can produce in that regard.
Mario Stivala, Belconnen
Our mates across the Tasman have just declared a climate emergency, along with 32 other countries representing over 800 million people.
Meanwhile, here in good old Oz we continue to drag the chain. We are living through an unprecedented heatwave in central Australia, still reeling from the shock of the Black Summer bushfires, and witnessing the severe effects of global warming on the Great Barrier Reef.
Yet our own federal parliament is apparently unable to acknowledge we are in a climate emergency. It beggars belief.
Anne O'Hara, Wanniassa
Is Cormann worth it?
As flights for Mathias Cormann's European campaign for an OECD job cost Australian taxpayers $4300 an hour for an air force plane, and then accommodation and meals, etc are added on top, one has to wonder whether the government did a thorough enough cost benefit analysis of this exercise or consider the likelihood of its success.
I was involved in Geoff Miller's (ex-Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry and Energy) tilt at heading up the FAO. I was very impressed with his vision for that organisation and he certainly had the skills and background to make it a success. But these jobs do not appear to given on the basis of qualifications, but on UN politics of particular nations involved in competing for the position.
In Geoff Miller's case, and despite the government spending half a million dollars on his campaign, politics won out in the end and he was defeated in the ballot by the nominee from Senegal despite being considered the favourite for the position. I fear that Cormann's expensive tilt will meet the same end to the detriment of the Australian taxpayer.
Ric Hingee, Duffy
Petitions with 1749 signatures opposing the location of major waste hubs in Fyshwick noting the CRS proposal, were tabled in the Assembly by Elizabeth Lee on December 2.
The ACT government confirmed their election commitment to not support the CRS proposal and to not support the processing of red bin waste at Fyshwick.
Minister Gentleman must have failed to tell his directorate of his government's commitment, for the lodgment of DA202037590 for the Materials Recovery Facility to handle 300,000tonnes per annum and to include putrescible garbage has been accepted for assessment by the ACT Planning and Land Authority.
In the planning process public notification is now imminent. Can everyone request the maximum time for public response as this is a most complex proposal achieved so far via the approval of associated uses all exempt from complaint to ACAT in the planning process.
B Moore Kingston
The climate emergency
It is time to join our New Zealand cousins in the declaration of a climate emergency There is surely no better alternative for our political leaders than to work closely together to deal with climate and a group of other social and environmental challenges that are threatening the very survival of the human species
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese have everything to gain by crafting together, a national response that could put Australia at the forefront of the global response to these issues. Professor Ross Garnaut has demonstrated the huge economic benefits of building a response on our unique assets of sun, wind, aluminium, iron ore, sand and human ingenuity.
So, let's go ScoMo and Albo!
Bob Douglas, Bruce
TO THE POINT
Australia's tragedy is that we have senior government ministers who are too stupid to realise how stupid they are even when senior international diplomats such as Christiana Figueres find they can no longer be diplomatic about our lack of climate action.
Timothy Ashton, Katamatite, Vic
So we can, and rightly do, investigate allegedly criminal behaviour by members of the ADF but not by members of the Federal Parliament; particularly not members of the Morrison cabinet. ("Government demands 'Canberra bubble' answers from ABC", December 2, p15, and "MPs urged to cross floor over watchdog", December 2, p16). Outrageous.
J F Bishop, Flynn
GEESE AND GANDERS
The Chinese government has for years berated countries it believes is meddling in (read commenting on) their internal affairs.
This does not stop them commenting on recent Australian affairs. Hypocrites.
Alan Murray, Kambah
CHANGE OF HEART
I was happy to read the Prime Minister's latest position on the Brereton Inquiry to the effect the Australian way is to presume innocence until proven guilty.
What a pity he didn't feel that way the week before when referring to "hard truths" in report. Much angst and anguish could have been avoided.
David Hewett-Lacon, Gowrie
Two months after the Tiananmen Square incident I was working in Shen Yang city from whence the troops were sent to quell the riots.
At night the TV showed films of brave local soldiers using water hoses to subdue the armed rebels. Very different to what we saw on television in Australia at the time.
Bob Nairn, Hawker
Given his initial denial of, and subsequent inaction, COVID-19 would it be possible to charge Donald Trump with 270,000 instances of manslaughter? Just saying.
Doug Rankin, Isabella Plains
Donald Trump is the eternal optimist. He is telling all who will listen that Americans will see him again in four years time.
I would have thought that even with time off good behaviour he'd go down for at least eight to 10...
Linus Cole, Palmerston
No Holly Godfree and Emily Squires, AEU ACT members, you are the ones who are missing the point.
It is not appropriate for the AEU to try to prevent individuals from using their own resources to benefit whoever they please. Why don't you go out, earn a few million dollars of your own, and contribute it to whatever cause you think important; public schools if you like.
John Howarth, Weston
To enhance confidence and show leadership, all politicians, their children, grandchildren and so on should step-up and be the first to get the COVID-19 vaccination. Given many people are fearful of an adverse reaction to the vaccine we need you to show the leadership you were elected to provide.
G J May, Forestdale, Qld
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