Abandon extremes for a platform that resonates

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GREENS AND THE ECONOMY

Abandon extremes for a platform that resonates

I find it hard to disagree with anything in Ross Gittins’ article about the black-or-white perspective adopted by a significant number of ‘‘environmentalists’’ and how disastrous such an approach would be if adopted as national policy (‘‘Greenie good guys are wrong to oppose growth’’, Business, 3/10).

I am further concerned given my assessment that there is little likelihood of another Labor government until there is a clear agreement between Labor and the Greens about the policy platform. That will require both parties to abandon the extremes of their current platforms in favour of a package the community is likely to accept. A difficult prospect, with little apparent leadership from the top within the Greens and threats from powerful unions and Joel Fitzgibbon affecting Labor.

Does anyone imagine change being initiated from opposition, especially these days and with the current government?
Terry Bourke, Newtown

The current model is unsustainable
I am one of those “Greenie good guys” (GGGs) that Ross Gittins (3/10) criticises for opposing endless growth. Yes, I worry deeply about the impact of our growth obsession on the environment. But, like Gittins, I also worry about the impact of the pandemic on job losses.

Gittins suggests that GGGs target their opposition to growth more specifically. Wise advice. But so too, should our governments target the post-pandemic recovery.

Let’s focus all the job-boosting efforts on sectors that are environmentally benign, such as education, healthcare, the arts, hospitality, renewables, and recycling, and cease promoting the current unsustainable economic model based largely on boosting population, housing construction and land clearing.
Ian Penrose, Kew

Chasing a few straw men
Ross Gittins is surely chasing a very few straw men in his argument that ‘‘a lot of greenies’’ do not want to stimulate growth, and that they do not realise the linked fate of all those people now affected by the COVID-19 hit to the economy.

There are numerous climate-related organisations, however, that promote renewable energy sources, which have also outlined, often in great detail, the kind of jobs and growth that can be created by renewable energy.

They point out the service jobs involved in planning, ordering, data management, and consulting on domestic and industrial-level projects as well as the labour components of such work. They pointto the markets for renewable products that Australia couldcreate.

These organisations have been very well aware that jobs must be found for people who now work in fossil fuel industries – and for those who have lost jobs in the pandemic-affected economy.

It’s unfortunate that Gittins has had to endure the ignorance of some thoughtless and misinformed people. But there are plenty of people out there who are really keen to see the government preserve and create jobs, increase efficiency and protect the natural world.
Elaine Hopper, Blackburn

Ravage the environment and the economy will suffer
I agree that ‘‘We’re a rock-dependent nation’’ (Comment, The Age, 3/10). It is unequivocally true that global warming is exacerbating the natural disasters, such as droughts and bushfires, that have been troubling Australia for quite a number of years.

It is urgent for us to attach importance to how global warming can ravage the environment, and subsequently the economy of a nation on a colossal level. In a nutshell, our reckless actions and poor handling of natural resources may create a domino effect in our lifestyle for many years to come.
Shiva Neupane, Macleod

THE FORUM

Ditch the tax cuts
George Megalogenis’ excellent piece (‘‘Damaged control’’, Insight, The Age, 3/10) merits amplification. The scale and scope of the public debt, while huge, is manageable due to the lowest-ever cost of finance, and comparatively we are in a better position than all other countries, measured by debt relative to GDP.

Keynes’ teachings may be back in favour, but one doubts the efficacy of further tax cuts. They will increase the deficit without commensurate personal spending.

Were ideology not driving policy, additional assistance to those on welfare support would be the restorative strategy – not tax cuts .
John Miller, Toorak

The rise of spin
Your reporter has identified the ‘‘deadly blind spot behind hotel fiasco’’ in Victoria (The Age, 3/10), but how did this happen?

Senior postwar public servants like ‘‘Nugget’’ Coombs were seen as wise, frank and fearless servants of the public in their ministerial advice. However, ministers began to appoint like-minded staff sympathetic to their policies, independent of the public service. Their status improved as public servants were increasingly left with repetitive administrative tasks.

Then some governments decided expenditure and negative feedback could be reduced by pruning the public service. Consultants and contractors could fill the gaps – though not necessarily more cheaply or effectively. Public servants and consultants tried to guess what their minister would favour and play it safe for promotion and future consultancies by uncritically ‘‘keeping to their lane’’ or silo.

Modest – but not maximum – outputs were produced in ‘‘normal’’ times, but this practice has resulted in blatant failures in working together with other silos in crises like this pandemic.

Frank, fearless and co-operative advice has departed, leaving the gaps to be papered over by public-relations spin.
Neil Wilkinson, Mont Albert

My hopes were dashed
My hopes rose when I saw the headline ‘‘Australia joins disinformation fight’’, The Age, 3/10). Would we finally be acting against climate denialism, anti-vaxxers, COVID-19 and 5G crazies? No, it was just another undiplomatic load of hot air about silly games between governments.

The fight against disinformation, better known as nonsense, begins at home. This a much bigger ask though and I suspect a bridge too far.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

Built-in social distancing
So, gatherings of up to five people are now permitted in open, public areas. How many groups of five in any one area? Not defined. We all witnessed the consequences of this policy on the beaches on Friday.

Yet Mr Andrews has chosen to keep golf courses closed because ‘‘it will stop hundreds from just turning up’’, he claims. This is rubbish. Golf clubs don’t operate like that. Almost every golf club in the metropolitan area, public or private, works off a timesheet; you can’t just ‘‘turn up and play’’ except at a tiny handful of public courses. The solution? Insist all clubs play off timesheets. Problem solved. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper.

Golf is the most socially distanced game imaginable. Players are released, in a maximum of fours, every 8-10 minutes, into hundreds of acres of parkland. It is utterly harmless and Mr Andrews, who is an accomplished golfer and a member of a prestigious golf club, knows it.

Open up the courses.
Geoffrey Ingall, Portsea

Hold them to account
Given the inertia of all federal governments for more than 20 years to revisit with some urgency the scant and foolishly inadequate staffing and skills mix legislation responsible for the care of Australia’s frail aged residents, why are we not surprised that the royal commission found their preparations were ‘‘insufficient’’ in the face of this once-in-a-century pandemic?

The answer lies in the head of Monash University’s health law and ageing research unit Joseph Ibrahim’s observation that ‘‘there {are] no consequences for failing to deliver good care in aged care’’.
Glenda Addicott, Ringwood East

What does it take …
We have lived with this virus now since the beginning of the year. With the exception of those who’ve been living on another planet there is no excuse for not self-isolating when you have been asked to do so or if you have been in contact with a COVID-19 person.

These irresponsible people are jeopardising the good work done by everyone else. It’s time to take the gloves off, stronger measures are needed.
Mary Wise, Ringwood

… for it to get through?
My wife and I walked around Jells Park Lake, Glen Waverley, a 30-minute walk, on Saturday morning. Astonishingly I gave up counting after 28 the number of people not wearing a mask properly, ie, mouth and nose exposed, a few no mask at all and only two with cups of (probably empty) coffee in hand. Cyclists, runners, small children excluded.

What does it take for people to get the message?
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

Unhelpful loopholes
It seems to me that being on a pushbike grants you a licence to ignore all restrictions, based on the behaviour I see every weekend at our local cafe here in Highett.

Groups of five or more adults, clearly not from just one or two families, standing around socialising, masks around their necks while they sip on their lattes, barely inches between them.

Apparently it’s all right – they are ‘‘riding bikes’’ so I guess the rules don’t apply. It’s these loopholes that people whose attitude is that they are above the law will happily drive a truck through.
Steve Smith, Highett

Poor input from the top
Governments’ COVID-19 responses have generated unprecedented reactions, such as anger, questioning of control measures ordered by accountable public health officials by “unaccountable” experts and even the laity, trolling of journalists accused of either undermining the health message or for glibly supporting restrictions of individual liberties, trolling of politicians for supporting legislation allowing emergency powers in an emergency, etc.

This has not occurred with other nationwide emergencies, such as last summer’s bushfires, where there was a unified response and no conflicting messaging or undermining. No trivial pursuit on why, on a total fire ban day, can’t I have a barbecue in Brunswick, no risk here unlike Wallan, or questioning of emergency agencies’ approaches from the sidelines.

Why? Maybe because with COVID-19, unlike other emergencies, there is a federal government leader, who rather than unify, has regularly criticised and undermined other political leaders, especially if of a different persuasion. Who rather than provide comfort, support and inspiration, like a footy coach, for us to stay the course to get to a COVID normal space has instead encouraged dissent and despondency.

Could anyone imagine any previous incumbent behaving similarly? Of course not.
Carlo Ursida, Kensington

Good luck with that
Good luck to the Beechworth Lawn Tennis Club, which is suing over the sports rorts saga (‘‘Don’t forget sports rorts episode’’, Comment, 2/10). The Prime Minister refuses to release the investigator’s report on this scandal. Why?

The investigator was Philip Gaetjens, head of the PM’s own department. Former sports minister Bridget McKenzie lost her job due to a conflict of interest uncovered by Gaetjens: she gave a $36,000 grant to a shooting club where she was a member.

But two days after resigning, the gun-toting McKenzie quietly amended her parliamentary record to disclose her membership of hunting lobby group Field & Game Australia. She’d given a half-million-dollar grant to its NT branch plus $100,000 for its state branches. Perhaps that’s why the cupboard was bare when the Beechworth Lawn Tennis Club sought a grant. No wonder the PM is keeping the report under lock and key.
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

We also need …
You tell us ‘‘What Victorians want from the budget’’ (The Age, 3/10). As usual, there’s ‘‘the couple’’, ‘‘the unemployed’’, ‘‘the business owner’’, ‘‘the student’’ and ‘‘the family’’. Once again, ‘‘the single, childless, middle-aged woman’’ is nowhere to be found. Given that we’re the demographic most likely to be on JobSeeker and most at risk of homelessness, I’d just like to be considered.
Maxine Hardinge, Clunes

… to be heard
One of the inherent issues with the aged care sector is that our society does not value older members of the community. The lack of care within this sector has been well documented for decades and yet still we find ourselves in 2020 puzzling over the problems again.

I was therefore very surprised to not see a profile of an older Victorian in your ‘‘What Victorians want from the budget’’ story. Older Victorians would appreciate recognition as legitimate members of the community.
Virginia van der Veur, Bentleigh East

Getting to the truth
While it may be an example of supreme irony that Donald Trump and senior members of the White House have contracted the coronavirus, the very questioning of the truth surrounding this and the contradictory messages coming from his people is a perfect metaphor of the status of truth in his politics.

All kinds of conspiracy theories are flying around the internet and speculation is rife as to his condition, how long ago he contracted the virus, if indeed he has at all.

Of greater significance than Trump himself, this consistent abrogation of the truth is directly a consequence of the tactics he uses in political discourse, tactics lapped up by his base.

But equally it is a consequence of the ubiquity of social media and the virtual lack of any filters to verify or falsify information transmitted on such media. This facilitates the spreading of false theories and misinformation and diminishes the capacity of individuals to think critically.
Greg Bailey, St Andrews

AND ANOTHER THING

The footy
Roaring, booing, clapping, screaming; the supporters soundtrack is back for finals footy. That’s more like it.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

Why win by two when one will do?
James Webster, Parkdale

Politics
Don’t give tax cuts to people who don’t need the money.
Malcolm McDonald, Burwood

The federal government should thank the states for leading the COVID-19 fight. Pity the aged care sector wasn’t under state control.
John Johnson, Richmond

Bravo, Jacqui Lambie
Margaret Bryant, Northcote

Chaos (The Age, 3/10), are you kidding? Every day with Donald Trump in office is chaos; that was just Friday.
Nick Seidenman, Lockwood South

Auto-correct keeps changing debate to debacle.
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong

Life in lockdown
Hey, Daniel Andrews, it’s a good thing the ‘‘mullet’’ is on the way back. I’m about to turn 70 and have developed a ripper over the past six months. Eat your heart out, Fabio.
Rob Quinn, Hillside

Aged care
There’s not much point in having accreditation inspections of nursing homes if there is prior notification of the time and date.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Furthermore
At what point does neoliberalism recognise that a strong, well-resourced public service should deliver social goods that a privatised or outsourced industry will not?
Peter Baddeley, Bushfield

Finally
Please, no fireworks this year: With so many needy people and businesses, they would be a wicked waste of money.
Merle Mitchell, Mount Eliza

One for the fridge door, perfect (Leunig, Spectrum, 3/10).
Daryl Goldie, Camperdown

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