Sandy Paine's letter of July 15 questioning the results of continuing, unrestrained, economic growth was spot on. It brought to mind Kenneth Boulding's famous saying: "Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist." We simply have to move from an economic system based on growth to one based on a dynamic, steady state system.
Earth provides resources and absorbs our wastes but it has a limited biocapacity. Already, the human ecological footprint is 170 per cent of Earth's renewable biocapacity and the boundaries of key planetary processes are being exceeded. In other words, we need 1.7 planets to sustain ourselves with our current numbers and resource use - we are in overshoot mode. We are living on ecological capital rather than interest. We are doing irreversible damage to the biosphere and our life support systems.
Climate change and biodiversity loss are two manifestations of this overshoot. They cannot be dealt with without addressing the underlying issue. Along with population growth, economic growth (based on resource growth rather than ideas) is the enemy. The economy per se is not the problem, simply its growth thereof, thus the need to move to a circular economy that is dynamic but does not grow in terms of resource use or in the production of wastes beyond the capacity of the Earth to absorb them.
Jenny Goldie, Cooma
Legal duty to protect life
It is invalid to appeal to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) for territory "rights" to legalise medicalised killing of the terminally ill and the suicidal (Forum, July 10). This covenant actually guarantees their right to be protected by law from arbitrary deprivation of life.
The federal government, having ratified this covenant, retains both the authority and the obligation to override state and territory laws incompatible with this instrument. Article 50 of this covenant extends its provisions "to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions" and includes NT and the ACT.
The federal government is obliged to challenge state and territory laws failing to provide adequate protection against the medicalised killing of the vulnerable. The right to life of the terminally ill and the suicidal means, inter alia, that states have a strict legal duty at all times to prevent, investigate, prosecute, punish and redress violations of the right to life wherever such violations occur, both in private and in public, and even in public emergencies threatening the life of the nation. (Article 4(2) ICCPR). Covenant obligations to provide legal protection for every human being means that governments are prohibited from legalising, promoting, condoning or paying for medical interventions where the intended outcome is arbitrary deprivation of the life of the terminally ill and the suicidal.
Rita Joseph, Canberra
Fast becoming selfish and ugly
Your correspondent Ian Morison (CT letters, July 15) says "We need to take a deep breath and be thankful of our position ..." vis a vis that of poorer countries unable to afford adequate response to COVID-19.
We should do more than take a deep breath and be thankful. We, as a nation, should be doing more, a lot more, to help those countries to improve their situation and also to directly assist them in coping with the virus. Australia used to be a good international citizen; understanding, eager to help, generous and reliable. Alas, we are fast becoming a selfish and ugly pariah nation, only interested in helping ourselves to whatever we can extract from other, poorer nations such as East Timor.
Our foreign aid figures tell the story. In about 1965, in terms of percentage of gross national income, our help for poorer nations was 0.47 per cent of GNI, with a stated goal of 0.5 per cent. Since then there has been a steady decline (apart from a few bumps in the graph) to 0.17 per cent in 2020 or the paltry figure of $4.35 billion in the last budget. That is about a quarter of the cost of one of our new submarines which many experts predict will be obsolete before they ever become operational.
We could, and should, do a lot more - but to do that in any meaningful way we would have to increase taxes, which is anathema to our selfish electorate.
James Gralton, Garran
A need to help those suffering
Paul Monagle, Australian Family Association (ACT) (Letters, July 14), thinks finding one reason to not do something, is reason enough to keep others suffering. I'm also very concerned any euthanasia laws could be used by unscrupulous people to knock off their relatives to get the inheritance sooner.
However I also see a need to help those suffering, which is why we do need to have strict rules in the legislation. Society doesn't improve if it hides from the problems present in society. Then again right-wing conservatives seem to like hiding behind organisations that use the word family in their title to dupe people into thinking they actually care about all families, but apparently not those with a suffering loved one.
Justin Watson, Bonython
Ignoring the urgent questions
When will our federal government wake up to the fact it is more important to make sure we have a habitable planet to live on, than it is to keep their snouts in the trough. ScoMo boasts (when it suits him) that he listens to the experts, how many more experts need to tell us that we are at the tipping point of destroying our planet? We can't wait till they have finished their moment in the limelight, to stop depending on what we know will only accelerate this climate damage. If we let them pretend this is not happening, post-2050 our children will be wondering "what were we thinking"? Or not thinking. We need to demand they listen.
Phil Turnbull, Kaleen
A different approach needed
The Canberra Times reported on July 16 ''ACT consent laws to be introduced in coming months''. I would hope we will not simply follow other jurisdictions nor regard sexual consent as a natural extension of contract law. Sexual consent is a unique, complex, intimate and changeable experience. New provisions should provide the opportunity for restorative justice procedures in special circumstances, with the agreement of the parties, where there is no objective reliable evidence available beyond the claims of the parties - e.g. no physical assault nor corroborative evidence. Court procedures are necessarily adversarial, often harrowing for the parties involved, as well as time-consuming and expensive. A mediated outcome can mean that, given the special circumstances, the people involved learn more from this experience than from court processes.
There is also the danger in this delicate area that the law will slide unwittingly from the basic principle of ''innocent until proven guilty'' to ''guilty until proven innocent''.
Warwick Williams, Nicholls
What a joke of a course
RE: the proposed sexual harassment training at Parliament House. It is laughable and insulting, to propose holding such a course for only one hour and, worse still, to make it optional for those working in Parliament House. That is but a token gesture to the cause of changing the toxic workplace environment (which the prime minister oversees), and insulting to the women of Australia, both inside parliament and without. The subject is a very serious one and needs much more in-depth exposure to make it meaningful. Anything less makes a mockery of the PM's supposed aim to address the appalling situation.
Ann Williams, Weston
Rudd's irrelevant intervention
Lucille Rogers (Letters, July 15) wants to thank Mr Rudd for his intervention in the vaccine issue, while ignoring the fact intervention was pointless and irrelevant. The speedy delivery of Pfizer vaccines was already being pursued by Australian health bureaucrats, and success had been achieved through normal procurement negotiations. Pfizer has publicly confirmed this. Mr Rudd achieved nothing, except a conveniently "leaked" email to an ABC journalist to assuage his own political irrelevancy syndrome for 24 hours.
Kym MacMillan, O'Malley
All praise to our CSIRO
Andrew Brown's report "Warm vaccine works against variant" (July 16, p4) describes the success of CSIRO in partnership with biotech company Mynvax in developing a SARS-CoV-2 (a coronavirus) vaccine that does not need cold or ultra-cold storage. It can therefore be used in regional and remote communities, not only in Australia, but worldwide.
The development of the "warm vaccine" also highlights the usual scant or absent acknowledgement of the vital research done by CSIRO scientists, who work quietly in the background, without fuss or fanfare, producing sometimes world-changing inventions such as WiFi.
Despite this valuable work, one of the first destructive acts of the Abbott coalition government was to slash CSIRO funding by $111.4 million. Less than 25 percent of that cut has since been reversed. CSIRO deserves much more generous treatment.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
To the point
CONSISTENT WITH VALUES
Gouging suppliers (and customers), wage theft and short-changing managers are progressions to intolerance of the homeless, a neat fit with prosperity theology emanating from plutocrat-gratifying government policy, lauding God-inspired "success" and denouncing Australia's less fortunate as losers ("Woolworths drives homeless away with classical music", July 15).
Albert M. White, Queanbeyan
BUCK STOPPED WITH JON
As we lurch from one Covid catastrophe to another and our political leaders are reluctant to fess up that they could have done things better, I'm reminded of times gone by. Remember those dark days of the Canberra fire in 2003, when Jon Stanhope rose to the occasion and took accountability despite the dreadful drought conditions?
Kim Fitzgerald, Deakin
VALUE RISE BEATS ME
I received my 2021-22 rates notice. I expected a significant increase, but not a massive 18.2 per cent. The net increase was almost entirely made up of an increase in the valuation based charge because of (another) increase in the AUV. Beats me how the unimproved value of my townhouse in a long-established suburb in central Tuggeranong keeps increasing.
Don Sephton, Greenway
WHEN HIS LIPS ARE MOVING
Poor old Scott Morrison ... even his mouth doesn't believe what he's saying.
Annie Lang, Kambah
BREAD AND CINEMAS
Good luck to the cinemas which were the recent beneficiaries of largess to the tune of $230,000. This comes courtesy of a government which can't provide funding to replace worn-out refrigerators to Canberra's disadvantaged residents via the Energy Efficiency Program. Perhaps an extension of the "Give them bread and circuses" policy of ancient Rome.
Brian Smith, Conder
POLLIES MAKE DECISIONS
Politicians who shift blame to senior public servants for poor decisions should note what I once was told by a capital city alderman: the role of senior staff is to make recommendations; the responsibility for decision-making belongs to politicians.
John Sandilands, Garran
MARLES FOR PM
I'm flabbergasted. The deputy opposition leader Richard Marles is such an ideal future PM it beggars belief he is not "shown off". He is statesmanlike, an intellectual, has a great sense of humour, doesn't use cheap below-the-belt shots and furthermore is a genuine caring altruistic parliamentarian. Albo must be nervous!
G Gillespie, Scullin
BOOZE REMAINS 'ESSENTIAL'?
I am puzzled by the fact over the last year with the lockups, bottle shops are deemed essential and allowed to remain open. Can it be that the governments get so much tax income from their sales? I declare I am not teetotaller.
Gail Allen, Pearce
ALL THAT GLITTERS ...
PM Scott Morrison has stated NSW has set gold standards in the identification, control and management of the COVID-19 virus. This has been repeated ad nauseam by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Obviously, neither knows the difference between 24 karat gold and fool's gold.