Re: Jack Waterford's article "Dominic Perrottet's call for federation reform in post-COVID world has merit", canberratimes.com.au, December 11).
The complete lack of cooperation between the federal and state and territory governments in relation to COVID-19 has been the biggest policy failures of all governments since Federation in 1901. While a Royal Commission is certainly warranted I cannot ever see the current PM agreeing to one.
While reform is need, I disagree with NSW Premier Perrottet that it should be bottom up reform that provides more power to the states/territories. Do we want more of the completely parochial attitudes of all the state and territory leaders (some worse than others) that resulted in the creation of artificial borders and severe social dislocation and disharmony?
What is needed is a strong federal government that can take the lead is times of crisis and temporarily override state and territory parochialism. We are a small country population-wise and the only reason we still have states and territories is because of our colonial history; back in the day it suited our British colonial masters to keep us divided. The failure of the PM's "national cabinet" after about a week clearly shows it is simply impossible for our multiple levels of government to work together, even in times of crisis.
That said, a strong federal government in times of crisis needs a strong and effective leader. Morrison "ain't no Churchill". Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for?
I believe Campbell Macknight's proposition that smallpox entered Australia from Macassar (Letters, December 15) is redundant. This notion was examined by Craig Mear in the Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society in 2008 and debunked. I covered the same ground in my article in the Journal of Australian Studies in 2014 and explained that the British had no other option than to use smallpox against local Aborigines in 1789 because they had no ammunition for their muskuets and there was no resupply. Further, there is no evidence of smallpox in Macassar to even spread into Australia before 1789, and no evidence of its presence anywhere across the continent until decades after the Sydney outbreak.
This is an important issue as Australia now seeks some form of reconciliation with its original inhabitants and land owners. But this can only be based on truth, not outdated subjective whims. Enough research work has been published by now, that we all should feel confident in consigning the Macassan theory to the 'dustbin of history'.
With so many Canberrans travelling to the south coast for their holidays, it is disappointing to see the lack of EV charging infrastructure available. There are no charging stations between Canberra and Bateman's Bay, or Berry to the north.
These towns only have one charger each. This is inadequate, with drivers having to wait in line to charge (providing the charger is actually working). Braidwood is a popular place for Canberrans to stop for a break and would be an ideal place to install several charging stations, as would Ulladulla.
A similar situation exists in the southern highlands, where Mittagong has only one charging station to service locals as well as visitors from Sydney and the ACT. Canberra has the highest EV uptake per capita in Australia.
Electrification of transport is the way of the future. It is about time suitable infrastructure was put in place.
Dr Alan Finkel says we should account for future inventions when forecasting Australia's response to climate change. This sounds reasonable, but what steps is the government taking to support these potential inventions of the future?
This is the same government that has, only in my short lifetime, reduced commonwealth-support university positions, reduced university funding, and gutted our CSIRO. So, where does the government think the future innovation their modelling relies upon is going to come from? Since I enrolled at university at the turn of the century, I have spent two decades protesting at cutbacks by the Liberal government to university funding, research and development and the CSIRO.
Today, the Liberal government seems to think that throwing money at their cronies in the fossil fuel industry counts as "research." One egregious recent example is the failed "carbon sequestration" project at Chevron's Gorgon gas project in WA. The only "innovation" in the government's present climate strategy is how to funnel grants back to their donors under the guise of greenwashed mock "research".
So no, I will continue to "criticise" as Dr Finkel puts it, until I see that the government is making a concerted effort to reverse their historical course of actively sabotaging Australian scientific research.
Experts such as Professors Adrian Esterman and Catherine Bennett are correct to say it is premature to stop social distancing and wearing masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The pandemic has not disappeared, and will probably get worse. There is good scientific evidence that masking and distancing are most effective at slowing the spread of the virus. Unfortunately politicians have used ugly words like "mandating", and later made much of lifting mandates so that people can "regain their freedom"; a red rag to all antisocial libertarians.
It would have been so much better to have educated people to the fact that wearing masks, like not spitting in public, is socially responsible behaviour in crowded situations, a sign of good manners and of concern for one's own health and that of others. It is a trivial imposition. Simple public adverts of current case numbers would soon have everyone informed, wary and helpful.
Your article "Commonwealth Ombudsman reports detail health concerns for people stuck in immigration detention", canberratimes.com.au, December 13) is a shameful indictment of Australia's treatment of the people who fled here seeking asylum. The article informs us that these people, who are apparently imprisoned for life, pose no threat to Australia's security and would settle down to a normal law-abiding life if allowed to stay. More importantly, their health is suffering, which is appalling!
Life imprisonment, the most severe punishment, in most countries is reserved for the vilest crimes. Here it is imposed on people who came to us for help to escape oppressive regimes - just like the thousands of Poles, Czechs, East Germans and Hungarians who fled to Australia in the post-WWII years to escape the Communist take-overs in their countries. They settled down to become ordinary Australian citizens, just like those of us of "British" ancestry.
Most egregious of all is the incarceration of children. The children of the Biloela family were born here, for pity's sake, and their fellow residents have been campaigning for their release back into their community. To sentence them to life imprisonment, and I suspect it is mainly because they are "black", is a blot on Australia's name which will be very hard to erase.
Anne O'Hara (Letters, December 13) asserted that, because federal Labor's emissions policy is a 43 per cent reduction by 2030 and it supports gas extraction in the Beetaloo Basin, Labor is not serious about tackling climate change.
Anthony Albanese knows that Scott Morrison is a cunning and ruthless opponent who will attack the slightest hint of what he sees as overly-ambitious or optimistic promises.
He is also acutely aware of the fate of Bill Shorten's Labor, with its ambitious climate policy that was attacked by the forces of News Corp media and Clive Palmer (mostly in Queensland), and lost the "unlosable" election.
Mr Albanese is determined not to repeat those mistakes, or even hint at doing so.
The Opposition leader is also aware of the need to keep natural gas - the fuel of the transition to renewables - healthy for a few years longer. Mr Albanese is no fool. Labor cannot implement policy if it does not win.
Congratulations to Minister Yvette Berry on the public acceptance of the Leon Report into criminal justice and sexual assault processes.
The leader of the opposition was on hand, at the invitation of the Minister.
Does this mean the community can hope for ongoing bipartisanship in the process of actioning this recommendations?
We need more of this grown up conduct from our Labor/Green government.
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