The heritage approval granted last week by environment minister Sussan Ley for the proposed huge redevelopment of the AWM continues the thoroughly disgraceful decision-making process that has characterised this project. In dereliction of her duty to preserve heritage values, she has defied not only the Australian Heritage Council but also the AWM's own 2011 Heritage Management Plan, which includes the conservation of Anzac Hall.
From the word go, only one outcome has been acceptable for this proposal. "Consultation" has been nothing more than window-dressing, and public opinion has been treated as simply a barrier to be worn down.
Parliament has been repeatedly and grossly misled about the degree of public support for the project. The main piece of "evidence" for such support appears to be an online survey conducted in February 2020 in which respondents were told (not asked), with promotional images, that "The time has come to modernise and expand the Australian War Memorial's galleries and buildings......". There was no hint of the controversy, counter-arguments or the exorbitant cost. The exercise could have come straight from an advertising agency. It was a total sham.
The whole process has been shallow, secretive and dishonest. It is the very antithesis of what we should expect in commemorating our war dead. If the AWM redevelopment goes ahead, it will be a matter of deep shame that forever haunts one of our most important national institutions.
Dr Sue Wareham, President, Medical Association for Prevention of War
PM part of a special group
The report "Planet still on track for disaster" (December 14, p15) reveals that Australia's Scott Morrison joined Russia's Vladimir Putin and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro in not being invited to speak at the critically important Climate Ambition Summit.
It is little wonder that Prime Minister Morrison was not invited. Most other developed countries, and all Australian states and territories have announced a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 (by 2060 in the case of China). In contrast, the Morrison government talks of a "gas-led recovery" from the COVID-19 recession, leaves the door open to "new" 19th-century coal-fired power, and aims for net-zero carbon dioxide emissions "some time in the second half of the century". Many climate scientists now say we must aim for net-zero emissions by 2030 if we are to avoid a hot-house Earth.
Mr Morrison's non-invitation to the summit left a total of 74 speakers at an online conference that may have sealed the fate of human civilisation.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Casual workers matter
Professor Peetz's work analysing the nature of casual work in Australia is to be commended for the light it throws on the fundamental issue of powerlessness ("Much 'casual' work is about permanent insecurity", December 14, p34).
There are pernicious consequences for individuals and society from having a large cohort (about one quarter) of powerless, insecure employees.
How can they afford housing or support for families when they are paid less than "permanent" employees? How can they bargain to improve their wages if the employer can simply withhold shifts?
How can they assert rights to a safe and healthy workplace (free of bullying for example) when to raise an issue risks no more shifts?
How do they manage family responsibilities (childcare for instance) when their hours are constantly changing; or manage a household budget when they have no guaranteed number of hours and earnings?
What are the mental health and physical health effects, and costs to the individual and health system, of grinding insecurity?
This false casualisation (where there is actually ongoing work) creates an underclass of workers - many in the jobs that the pandemic revealed to be essential to our real social needs.
Wouldn't it be a fairer arrangement if, where there is ongoing work, casual employees had a right to "permanent" status, and the right to arbitration if there is a dispute?
Jane Timbrell, Reid
Stop the 'iron rail in road'
Before Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Transport Minister Chris Steel devote any more time and money on their Civic-Woden light rail proposal I urge them to be guided by a previous chief minister's compelling sage advice "... that a fixed 'iron rail in road' initiative would be financial suicide. It is arguable that the money spent on the light rail would be better invested more heavily in the technology of the next (ie. 21st) century rather than the last" ("Driverless cars: just a fad, or our future", Design Matters with Tony Trobe, December 13).
Randwick to Circular Quay light rail takes much longer than a bus on the same route, and whenever a tram breaks down it creates long-lasting chaos. Please do not inflict a slow, inflexible light rail "service" on those who live in Woden and beyond.
Trackless trams between Liverpool and Sydney's second airport are being considered as existing roads and bridges can be used - much cheaper and less disruptive than constructing a dedicated light-rail track.
Peter Sherman, Aranda
Common sense on drugs
Congratulations to Michael Pettersson for introducing a bill that, if passed, will decriminalise the possession of small amounts of various drugs. I hope that sanity will prevail and the bill passes.
The lesson that the US's prohibition should have taught us so many years ago, and which our own experience has so amply demonstrated, is that prohibition doesn't work and causes much more harm than good. Perhaps the vast amounts of money saved on law enforcement, court costs, and imprisonment will be put towards helping people who become addicted to overcome their problem and that drug addiction will finally be treated as a health problem.
Fred Pilcher, Kaleen
Government's vested interests
Given the overwhelming evidence of the need for urgent action to limit global warming and also given the fact that a sizeable majority of Australians want that action, it is perplexing that the federal government refuses to do more to support investment in renewables. There are only three reasons I can think of for this strange behaviour.
Firstly, miners of fossil fuels are major donors to the Liberal and National parties and lobby the government. In fact, the Nationals could now be seen as representing mining interests rather than agricultural and pastoral interests, something that the farmers of Narromine can readily attest to.
Secondly, a small but vocal group of hyper-conservative backbench members threatens to wreck the joint whenever sensible measures on climate are proposed for consideration by government.
Thirdly, Scott Morrison and his cabinet are fearful of incurring the wrath of Rupert Murdoch through his many media outlets if they advocate sensible policies. It is worth noting in this context that Murdoch's Courier Mail in Queensland never mentions serious damage to the Great Barrier Reef through warming, even though reef tourism makes a far greater contribution to the state economy than coal does.
Spin will no longer cut it: the Morrison government must act in the interest of all and not simply pander to vested interests.
John Ryan, Griffith
Time to sign up to nuclear power
Many letters contributors bemoan the fact that our government will not commit to a 50 per cent (or higher) emissions reduction target. But the problem we face is that setting a target without a meaningful way of getting there is simply a gesture.
Renewables currently provide less than 5 per cent of the world's energy needs, and when the wind does not blow, or the sun does not shine, they don't work. Battery storage is still very nascent, and the whole of life environmental cost of batteries is very high. Further, renewables will probably never be able to provide the high base-load energy needed for many industries, such as steel making. As an analogy to explain base-load, try starting a semi-trailer with an AAA battery.
Even the Labor Party has recently admitted that coal, oil and gas will be in our energy mix for a very long time to come. To ban these would send us back to living in caves.
There is a solution staring us in the face. We are one of 20 OECD countries. Nineteen of them have nuclear power and thus enjoy cheap, reliable and emissions-free energy. They have all found ways to safely store the small amounts of waste generated. Why can't Australia join the nuclear world?
Ian Morison, Forrest
China's moral responsibility
Having failed to "conquer" Australia by stealthy commercial means China is now intent on subduing us by using the old we just won't buy from you. Next it will be iron ore. I do not presume to understand why China would want to dominate another country.
Personally I have no problem buying their products, accepting students to study and generally living happily along side a Chinese Communist Society but I don't think anyone in Australia wants a similar regime here. Please China, you have influence in the world accept your responsibilities and use them with maturity.
J Hutka, Ngunnawal
TO THE POINT
DIFFERENT RULE FOR SOME?
Without being conversant with the intricacies of the individual situation it might seem confusing that serviced apartments should be arraigned on accusations of breaching NCA residential lease approvals while the Airbnb platform obtains carte blanche from regulators, and the ATO ("Luxury 'de facto hotel' faces shutdown", December 11, p1)!
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
In the US, both Dr Fauci and General Perna, commander of the Warp Speed operation have mentioned that vaccines will be available to all who want it but what about saying, 'all people will get it'. There should be no pandering to those that are anti-vaccinators when their ignorance will endanger others.
The COVID pandemic has spread around the world, no one is immune from it yet and unless we get everyone vaccinated there will still be outbreaks.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic
POINT TO PROVE
Bill Deane (Letters, December 14) admirably proves Lidia Thorpe's point.
Sean Allan, Bemboka, NSW
I wonder if the ACT election would have been different if Petterson had announced his private members bill before the election allowing the voters in his electorate and the ACT to have an alternate decision whether to vote for him or not. If I lived in his electorate I would not have voted for him!
Sid Sainsbury, Bruce
WAYS TO KILL A TREE
Whenever I see news about someone being forbidden from cutting down a tree I think that will simply stop people planting them and why don't such trees "mysteriously" die as happens in NSW? If poisoning is suspected how do you prove who did it? Or simply removing trees before they reach "protected status".
The worse scenario is of course the Queensland case where a protected tree killed two people resulting in legal claims for compensation.
John Coochey, Chisholm
WHO'S THE IDIOT?
I subscribe to Thomas Mautner's comments ("Orwell's rise after rebels' fall", Letters, December 15) correcting some of Professor John Malouf's assertions in his article ("Ever felt like you've been an idiot? You are in good company", December 13, p18). Indeed, I would go further. His lack of accuracy in the narrative added to the "idiocy" aspect he tried to transmit, did result in a piece of a standard not worthy of a university professor.
John Rodriguez, Florey
Now that we aren't inundated with public health information many Canberra people think that coughing into their hands or with no cover is ok. I can wear a mask. But when the person is handling my food items (and even turning them over and over to really look at them) as they serve me at the checkout I am appalled.
Sandy Kay, Cook
TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM
Tiger Woods has the key to all the American recent ills. He should agree to play a game of golf with Trump and intentionally lose to him. So Trump can satisfy his ego in a different way, and keeps saying he won, he won.
Mokhles k Sidden, South Strathfield
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