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Time to be a leader not a laggard on climate change

Shorten has fallen for baseload bluster
I was disappointed to read about Bill Shorten’s support for the proposed climate-damaging extraction of gas reserves. Mr Shorten’s position proposes a terrible legacy for future generations and our native flora and fauna. Claims that baseload energy cannot be provided by renewable sources are ill-founded.

Rather than bow to the commentary of sustainable energy sceptics, I suggest Mr Shorten instead seek out expert academic views, such as (recently retired) Professor Anthony Vassallo, who stated that electricity generation technology is so flexible it doesn’t need a ‘‘baseload’’ and that there is no need to keep huge coal-fired stations ticking over 24/7. Professor Vassallo’s finding is backed by CSIRO energy director Dr Glenn Platt, who has stated we do not need baseload electricity generation.

The ALP should be developing a policy to implement an upgrade of our ageing electricity grid to support the renewable energy industry with smart technology.
Darren McClelland, Moonee Ponds

Everybody does their part in a responsible society
Applying Robert Smallwood’s logic, it makes no sense for me to stay home, wear a mask, social distance, or get tested for COVID-19 as I represent less than 0.00002 per cent of the Victorian population. Unless everyone does their part, or waits until someone else acts, the problem remains. Let’s be responsible inhabitants of this land and this planet and do what is in the best interests of all.
Gary Heard, Jan Juc

Wealthy nations must lift and stop leaning
The Earth’s climate is on a precipice and wealthy countries such as ours need to urgently start lifting and stop leaning on others. The prospect of climate change effects on future generations will be far worse than the pandemic and although we already have the solutions, continuing to blame others shows the willpower is lacking.
Anthony Barnes, Narre Warren

THE FORUM

Ignore Kennett advice
Could the media stop quoting Jeff Kennett as an expert on how to run a government, a state … anything? He closed the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital in 1996. If he hadn’t then we wouldn’t be resorting to hotel quarantine. At-risk workers and community members would be in the care of health professionals in a hospital – a specialist setting for infection control.
Cindy O’Connor, Brunswick

Specialist hospital needed
Yes, Melanie Bennetts (Letters, 17/8) you are right, the reintroduction of an infectious diseases hospital is needed. The Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital was recognised as a world leader, especially in the research and treatment of viruses. Viruses will continue to be the great enemy of the future and the government should be proactive and build facilities such as the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital. There would then be a place where people could be quarantined and those infected kept isolated and treated by specialist staff.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Follow the dollar trail
It is well known that pensioners and the unemployed spend a greater proportion of any increase in income on goods and services than wage earners do. Wage earners tend to put more of any increase into savings or investment, and the greater the wage, the greater the proportion going into savings.

Ross Gittins (‘‘Tribal prejudices on wages guarantee a weak recovery’’, 17/8) makes some serious points about growth in wages assisting an economic recovery, but ignores the contribution of pensioners and the unemployed. A dollar going to the unemployed or pensioners will be more effective in stimulating the economy than a dollar returned in tax cuts.

If the Treasurer is serious about stimulating the economy he will keep pensions and unemployment benefits at a higher level than pre-COVID-19 and drop the idea of income tax cuts.
John Pinniger, Fairfield

Parliamentary build
Good on UK MPs for deciding to spend $7.3 billion to restore the wonderful Palace of Westminster (‘‘Renovate or detonate: palace makeover divides politicians’’, 17/8). I wish our MPs would commit the 1 per cent of that sum required to complete our 164-year-old Parliament building in Spring Street. It would not be an indulgence for politicians but a recognition of the outstanding vision of the original architects, Peter Kerr and John Knight, and a commitment to the people of Victoria, whose Parliament it is.
Chris Curtis, Hurstbridge

ABC funding undeserved
The coverage of disagreements between Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and the ABC (‘‘Minister slams ABC fact checkers’ funding claim’’, 17/8) over funding issues raises a more fundamental question of why we need to fund a public broadcaster in these acute economic times.
The ABC’s broadcasting services are basically news, entertainment and social commentary. Hardly an essential service of government, these services are readily available in a number of media formats provided locally and overseas. Claims by its supporters that the ABC provides better coverage in emergencies such as the bushfires are simply not true. There may be a case for a public funded broadcasting service for regional and remote Australia. Otherwise the ABC could be funded from subscriptions and advertising.

The pandemic has burdened Australia with an enormous public debt making the funding of non-essential public services no longer an option.
Martin Newington, Aspendale

Mask exemption fury
Another four weeks of solitary confinement. Will there be another four weeks after that? And another? How does one keep up morale when you live alone and haven’t had a friend over for months? Dan Andrews says he knows it’s hard. He doesn’t. He goes home to a family every night. Then he adds insult to injury by allowing people to potentially infect me with COVID-19 if I go out for an hour’s walk.

If this virus is serious enough to keep all the solos like me in solitary confinement then it’s serious enough to rescind the non-medical mask exemption for joggers and cyclists … and smokers, coffee drinkers, nose exposers, neck warmers and the rest. The unfairness of that exemption is stirring the ranks in suburbia and threatens to weaken support for any good decisions made.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Scatter-gun policy
While I note Justice Coate’s refusal to allow Michael O’Brien leave to appear at the quarantine inquiry (‘‘Hotel probe head rejects Lib bid to join hearing’’, 17/8), I would have been happy to see him there on the proviso that he could explain his party’s scatter-gun approach to the pandemic. During the course of this virus he appears to have adopted almost every contrary and contradictory stance possible, ranging from the ‘‘let it rip’’ approach to even earlier calls for staged lockdowns.
Ross Cleaves, Frankston

Recognise science greats
This being National Science Week, it would be an appropriate time to recognise Australian scientists who proved to be of world acclaim but sadly with limited recognition. A case in point is Sir Alan Walsh, inventor of the atomic absorption spectrophotometer described as ‘‘the most significant advance in chemical analysis in the then 20th century’’. Sir Alan lived in Brighton for some 50 years. The likes of Sir Lawrence Bragg (physicist), Sir McFarlane Burnet (virologist), Sir Mark Oliphant (physicist), Fiona Stanley (epidemiologist) and Sir Gustav Nossal (biologist) are just a few of Australia’s finest scientists who provide inspiration for the youth of today to take up science.
Kevin Spencer, Brighton

Who gets to leave?
Apparently it is OK to leave Australia to swim the English Channel, that has been conquered before, but it is not OK to leave the country to attend a family wedding. We need accountability about this decision-making process. Are there clear and explicit guidelines? Or is it pot luck?
Joanne Wilson, South Melbourne

Lift the Iron Curtain
I escaped the Czech Communist Iron Curtain when the Russians invaded in 1968, and was grateful to become a citizen of free Australia. Now, how dare Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison forbid Australians with a valid passport from leaving the country? Of course the government can and should require isolation for returning citizens, at our own expense, but where does the constitution prevent us from leaving Australia?
Miroslav Walter, Nagambie

Lack of action astounds
I cannot believe the incompetence of the Victorian government. The day the Assisted Living Accommodation had its first case of COVID-19 it should have been put into lockdown with the Health Department providing immediate extra staffing to ensure residents could not leave. Surely there is compulsory reporting from both the facility and the pathology lab.
Muriel Hutchinson, Nar Nar Goon

Fair day’s casual
Years ago, there was a responsibility for employers to offer for a fair day’s work, a fair day’s pay. Unions, more than the government, held them to that tenet. Given that the government wants even more flexibility so that employers can make more profit, the workers will be the ones who will be asked to do more for less under even more casualised work arrangements where few entitlements will be on offer.
Greg Tuck, Warragul

Let us breathe easier
Bayside City Council’s bold move to ban the burning of solid fuels for backyard fires and outdoor cooking deserves full support (‘‘Council grilled over barbie ban’’, 16/8). I don’t doubt that a ban on backyard pizza ovens will cause distress to the Boccis and others, but it is wrong to frame this argument in such a way as to suggest that the smoke from pizza ovens affects only a next-door neighbour and not the wider neighbourhood, and that it is only ‘‘unreasonable’’ people with respiratory issues who have a problem. There is no getting away from the fact that everyone who breathes in smoke, whether from outdoor wood fire ovens or cigarettes, is affected. Simply encouraging users of barbecues and fire pits to consider the respiratory issues of neighbours is not enough.
Karina Kanepe, Northcote

Applaud whistleblower
If ever there was a case for a whistleblower to be applauded (not prosecuted), it must be Witness K and lawyer Bernard Collaery (‘‘Weak grounds for secrecy of Bernard Collaery trial’’, 14/8). History also demands that the full disclosure of Australia’s grubby dealings in the betrayal of Timor-Leste should be publicly exposed, including identification of those responsible.
David Allan, Blairgowrie

Google this
I noticed Google has included an alert on their search page from Melanie Silva (Google Australia) telling ‘‘Aussies’’ how new regulations governing the use of news content (‘‘Google slams new code, claims users’ data under threat from big publishers’’, 17/8) will skew their search results and provide end-user data to news companies. Sorry, Google, us ‘‘Aussies’’ are not fooled by your unwillingness to pay for material you have been lifting for free and profiting from. And given your practices with my data, who are you to lecture us on how it is used? Fix your algorithms and business practices if our results are going to be biased. Just as Google expects to be paid for its intellectual property, they should start paying for journalism that enhances their products.
Tim Sharkey, Kew

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Coronavirus
I can’t decide which documentary to watch tonight. Groundhog Day or Contagion?
Don Phillips, Fitzroy

In the 10th round of a prize boxing fight, you don’t spend time examining why you suffered a hard punch in round two.
Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

Along with Black Lives Matter, it’s time our decision makers understood that Aged Care Matters too.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Andrew Trembath (Letters, 17/8), what an excellent reform agenda. With the Morrison government in power, watch out for flying pigs before any of this happens.
Barbara Marsh, Kew

To achieve nefarious ends, ‘‘undermining’’ is de rigueur – Trump and US Postal service; Coalition and super payouts, supporting gas not renewables and cutting ABC funding.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

What doesn’t Michael O’Brien understand about the term ‘‘independent inquiry’’?
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

The federal Treasurer has announced the cutting of red tape for tradesmen. It worked so well in aged care.
Graeme Henderson, Bullengarook

Branch stacking
Why bother investigating branch stacking in a Victorian political party? I thought it was compulsory.
Murray Horne, Cressy

The Liberals accused of branch stacking. Who’d have believed it? Will there be as much outrage and scrutiny now the shoe is on the other foot?
Judith Dunn, Bentleigh East

Michael Leunig
Thank you Michael Leunig (17/8). You made me laugh out loud.
Janet O’Dell, Briar Hill

My grandad’s legacy to me after weathering Gallipoli, the Western Front, being shot, dysentery, and a subsequent World War, was, ‘‘never lose your sense of humour’’. Leunig’s message carries the same sentiment.
Pete Lilly, Bendigo

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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