The Morrison government and Labor should both heed the advice of the Climate Council's latest report to commit to halving Australia's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 ("Coalition, Labor told to boost their efforts on emissions targets", December 14, p5). They should take particular note of the council's statement: "if all countries were to adopt the Morrison government's "do-nothing" approach, we'd be trying to survive on a planet warmed to somewhere between three degrees and four degrees by 2100".
Three or four degrees warmer may not seem like much. However, these temperature variations are averaged over the entire planet, including the warming north-polar region and the stubbornly frigid Antarctic. Note also that over the last million years, the difference between a comfortable and a very uncomfortably hot Earth has been just two degrees.
The report described the global drive to carbon neutrality as a once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity for the country. It cited Australia's abundant supplies of renewable energy and of "critical" metals such as lithium, cobalt and rare earths (hydrogen will soon be added to the list), which "could help create a clean energy export industry worth almost three times as much as fossil fuels exports".
The arguments for further reducing greenhouse gas emissions are overwhelming.
The letter by Chris Ryan (Letters, December 14) illustrates the largest and most significant problem in the field of road safety.
He assumed, without the slightest evidence to back his statement, that the cause of the death of a workman in a road work zone was a car exceeding a speed limit.
He then complained that a police car overtook him at speed in a works zone at night. Apparently it did not occur to him that at night there were no workers present nor that the police may have been on urgent call to attend a problem with perpetrators on site and would not wish to advertise their approach.
In the UK where crash causes are forensically investigated (my nephew is officer in charge of crash investigations of a large part of one of the largest police areas) exceeding a speed limit is a contributory factor in 13 per cent of fatal crashes and two thirds of these are precipitated by intoxication, stolen vehicles, fleeing apprehension, suicide, etc.
The attitude demonstrated by Mr Ryan, carried over into politics, means that 95 per cent of road safety actions are aimed at five per cent of the problem hence the failure of road safety strategies imposed on the people. If we are to succeed in improving real road safety we must start with forensic examination of crash causes and the factors precipitating these causes and dispense with guesswork, political posturing and uninformed opinion and deal with the true causes.
The cynic in me says Senator Zed Seselja's announcement that $75 million of federal funding to overhaul road infrastructure in the ACT would be brought forward to 2022 is more about shoring up his re-election chances than prudent management.
Senator Zed said that the $51 million package of works for major upgrades (unspecified) to the Tuggeranong Parkway will be "congestion busting" but nothing was said about the congestion the roadworks themselves will create no doubt for an extended period of time.
The diplomatic boycott of the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics raises the obvious question of why home-based diplomats need to be deployed to the Olympics to participate in the sporting spectacle in the first place.
A former DFAT officer told me it was essentially what Americans call a boondoggle - given that any diplomatic or consular requirements can be handled by embassy staff already in-country.
Perhaps a useful cost saving for taxpayers could be had from extending the boycott to future Olympics - and including boondoggling politicians as well.
Our Prime Minister is fond of slogans and advertising hype. Well there is one pithy saying that he and the NSW Premier Perrottet should take special note of: "it is what it is". COVID-19 is still with us, it is still dangerous to health and life, and it is still likely to overrun our health system. It is no use pretending that all is well, it is no good indulging in inane boosterism, which is really disguised electioneering.
It is time for responsible and fact-based policies. It is clearly too early to be relaxing virtually all controls as per NSW. Remember Mr Morrison et al, it is what it is, no mantras of "living with COVID" can alter this fact.
N Ellis (Letters, December 15) criticises Dr Norman Swan for predicting a possible 4000 cases of COVID-19 per day by mid-September as an exaggeration of what happened.
Norman is one of the few people who has talked complete sense during COVID. He has called politicians to account when appropriate.
By the way, NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard, has predicted that the statistic could be 25,000 cases per day by the end of January.
Penleigh Boyd (Letters, December 15) calls for distance charging for all vehicles.
Let's refine that three ways. The rate per kilometre should be adjusted according to vehicle weight: the heavier the vehicle, the more harm it does per kilometre.
Credit fuel excise for proven purchases. Then low-fuel hybrids and no-fuel all-electrics will pay the same as each other and as higher-fuel vehicles.
Is this only about road repair and capital costs? Then the adjustment for vehicle weight should reflect the square of the weight, as road damage and road construction cost increase according to somewhere between the square and the cube of weight.
Ordinary cars produce one to four tonnes of pollution from fuel burning every year. The rubber wear and brake wear in the same year are measured in low kilograms only. Sure, electric vehicles are not perfectly clean, but ...
Distance charging only high enough to replace fuel excise won't cover pollution. It won't cover road building and will barely cover road maintenance.
How high should distance charges be?
I also sympathise with Adam Hughes Henry (Letters, December 11) regarding the cost of housing. All people should have feasible access to appropriate housing.
However, in addition to the many attitudes and actions of the ACT government that make housing in the ACT less affordable outlined by Michael and Christine O'Loughlin (Letters, December 14), I add the Howard government's decision to only include 50 per cent of any realised capital gain in taxable income while maintaining immediate deductibility of interest expense.
The Howard era change is increasingly concessional as housing prices have increased more rapidly and underlying inflation declined.
ACT Labor appears to have a policy objective of negating some of the concessions provided at the federal level by raising, to rapacious levels, its land tax. Land tax when combined with rates can amount to around 50 per cent of the rent from a Canberra rental property. Federal Labor has gone quiet on the issue after feeling badly burnt after the 2019 federal election.
Unfortunately, neither the Liberal or Labor Parties (at least) currently are interested in or dare to advocate for comprehensive reform of the housing market, so redress at the ballot box is likely to be difficult to find.
Nevertheless I urge people under housing pressure to keep up the pressure, including because plenty of boomers also think the recent outcomes are unfair.
How sad it is to see that our local high school has finally joined the long list of schools surrounded by jail-like two metre high black fences.
No doubt schools are being destroyed by vandals, and secondary school age kids are being abducted left, right and centre, but in these days when exercise is considered to be so important, a sentiment expressed often in The Canberra Times of late, what a pity it is that tennis court access and the basketball courts now appear to be within the confines of the "jail".
These previously hitherto publicly accessible facilities will now, it seems, be lost to the local community.
Surely the ACT government can somehow enlarge its education budget in order for these very minimal facilities - asphalt surfaces and a tennis net of galvanised pipe and wire mesh - to remain available to local young folk.
Not long ago it was the full page ad about the "next prime minister" (aka Craig Kelly) which brought gales of laughter to our breakfast table. On Friday morning it was, curiously, a heading in the sports reports: "Smith's bizarre journey back to nation's most crucial role". I wonder what the marketer-in-chief in The Lodge makes of that?
Well said, David Roth (Letters, December 10). The insidious use of the word "impacted" instead of "effected" and "affected" is one that I abhor. It is so, so annoying, especially when used by newsreaders across all the TV channels. It is just lazy English. No wonder school children don't know how to use these three words correctly.
Why are we being so cruel to our community by closing the Braddon Centrelink office?
Mario Stivala (Letters, December 13) chastises the ALP for a lack of original thinking on its emissions policy, which follows the previous guidelines of the former environment minister, Greg Hunt. Actually, I think it is a smart move. How can Greg Hunt or any other Liberal criticize their own policy?
Ken Keeling (Letters, December 16) says "EV drivers should pay their share by a per kilometre charge". A simple and equitable solution (which supports travel privacy): Transfer all taxes and charges to vehicle tyres at point of sale.
R S Baczynski (Letters, December 15) thinks it's beyond the ability of drivers to progress safely through a 40 km/h zone because of the need to focus on their speedometer at the expense of an awareness of their surroundings. If this is true then every one of the 40 km/h school zones around the territory must be our biggest accident zones. Look out kids.
COVID cases are about to skyrocket. Health orders are being wound back nationally. Two-thousand years ago a virgin had a baby and we'll celebrate that. There is a federal election in the next few months. We're all still following the science, right?
A huge thank you to the kind and honest person who anonymously home-delivered my lost wallet on Tuesday; best Christmas present ever.
A question about this new AUKUS partnership. Why isn't Canada part of it?
If the WA borders are shut until next February does that mean Santa Claus won't be visiting there this Christmas?
The government will try to buy the next "miracle" election. They know they cannot stand on their record.
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