NSW people know who Matt Kean is. He’s the Liberal putting a gloss on the brand, sullied by smoke taint and coal dust. When the fires die down and the dirt settles, we will be able to see if he, and the NSW government, have managed to do something about climate change. – Deb McPherson, Gerringong
Typical of the PM – he attacks the voice of reason while defending the indefensible. Kean and others like him are honest and sensible enough to alert us to the real threats and to outline what needs to be done. On the other hand, Bridget McKenzie’s actions typify the arrogance and disdain of a government that will put all ethics aside to protect its political hide. – Brian Palfrey, Surry Hills
What a bittersweet irony. The government’s inaction on climate change has had many heavy costs already, but chief (for the PM) among them may be the much-vaunted “surplus” – which was intended to demonstrate what an excellent financial manager the Coalition is. But now, with costs of recovery spiralling relentlessly in multiple directions, we also have a near-dead Great Barrier Reef, a near-dead Murray Darling Basin, a near-dead tourist industry, vast areas of near-dead land – and actually dead flora and fauna, with species facing extinction. And still he equivocates. – Janet Simpson, Paddington
There is a spectrum analysis available for so many things that we might reasonably apply it to climate politics. There would be science at one end, moving through scepticism to ignorance. Next, we would encounter wilful, destructive blindness. It’s not hard to see where most of the Coalition currently sits. – Gary Stowe, Springwood
Some of the letter writers could be advised to do a search on solar and wind farm development in Australia. Such a search will reveal that we are not the backwater in such developments as many seem to think. In fact, some of the world’s largest solar farms are being developed in Australia. It’s true that the federal government is an embarrassment in this space but that should not blind readers to what is happening despite government appalling policy vacuum and inaction. – Philip Fitzgerald, Lapstone
A good day for reconciliation and unity
The Australia Day holiday will generate debate over what the day should commemorate. The obvious observation is that Australia reflects a far more complex society than the original arrival of the English reflects. We are one of the most ethnically mixed societies on earth. We are a society that appropriated Aboriginal land and failed to justify or compensate for that crime; and we populated Australia with a diverse ethnic mix. This whole scenario is not a reason to gloat or celebrate. It is a reason to say “sorry”, to say “thank you” for something not deserved, and to join together as a nation to live as a society committed to tolerance and respect for each other. Would “Australia Day of Reconciliation and Unity” work? There’s probably a better name, but shouldn’t our national day say something like that proudly to the world? – John Golden, Newport
I am often reminded of that inspirational song I am Australian. “We are one but we are many and from all the lands we come,” wrote Bruce Woodley. He also acknowledged the “first Australians”. But can we be one if we differentiate between the first and the rest? The adverse impact that settlement had on the lives of the original inhabitants of this country cannot be denied. Yet more than two hundred years later we are still closing the gap and righting wrongs. When will it ever end? We have said “sorry”, enacted land rights and made considerable efforts to improve the health and welfare of the present generation of “first Australians”. Yet we are imbued with a sense of guilt about invasion, dispossession and the continuing mourning of loss suffered by Indigenous families in the distant past. The Seekers encouraged us to “sing with one voice, I am, you are, we are Australian”. Let us honour that on Australia Day by pledging to make their dream come true. – James Morrice, Burradoo
Is January 26 the right day to be celebrating the birth of our nation? When we are born we celebrate that day as our birthday, not the day we were conceived. The federation of the six states was celebrated by Queen Victoria’s representative, Governor General Lord Hopetoun, who proclaimed the “Commonwealth of Australia” on January 1, 1901 in Centennial Park, Sydney. Isn’t that the day Australia was born? – Les Reedman, Cooranbong
Does nobody remember when Australia Day was celebrated on the Monday closest to 26 January? We always had a long weekend up until then. When was it decided that we must celebrate on the actual date? – Colleen Northam, Taree
If ever Australia becomes a republic, perhaps commemoration of Australia Day could be transferred to the present Queen’s Birthday Monday. Then January 26 could be commemorated as, say, Indigenous Recognition Day. – John Hamilton, Campsie
New reasons for government to resist a federal ICAC
Stephen Charles is right. (“Your government does not want corruption investigated”, January 20). Thus a federal corruption watchdog does not exist. So, conveniently, the government does not have to do anything about Minister McKenzie’s mishandling of the sports grants funding. But for this government, a national energy policy does not exist, a national policy on handling bushfires does not exist, an effective climate change strategy does not exist, a workable Murray-Darling approach does not exist, a strategy to protect endangered species such as koalas and platypus does not exist, a national strategy for waste recycling and plastics reduction does not exist. Surely, there must be something useful that this government wants to do.
Geoff Wannan, Dawes Point
Bridget McKenzie has “raised” pork-barrelling to a new scale. The barrel is too small. Maybe it could be pork silo-ing?
Laurence Pearson, Castlecrag
The case for a national integrity commission has grown stronger given the Audit Office Report into the sports grants. However, the Prime Minister insists that there is nothing to see here and the Attorney-General is making very slow progress in outlining an anti-corruption agency. To make it worse, the proposed national agency would be weaker than existing state bodies. Is it time for a group of judges to outline a viable plan for a national ICAC? Labor and the Greens could back it and thus force the government’s hand.
Judy Sherrington, Kensington
A word of warning to those who are taking pot-shots at Minister McKenzie. Among her interests, the Senator lists shooting. With guns.
Peter Heron, Forestville
One can only assume that those advising the opposition are Liberal Party moles (“Albanese calls Labor’s 45 per cent emissions target a ‘mistake’”, 19 January). That can be the only explanation for Albanese’s announcement. The timing is appalling, coming on the heels of the bushfires. More pandering to the mining industry. What about the many more (in tourism and agriculture, for example) who will lose their livelihoods because of climate change? – David Rush, Lawson
Electric car delight
After Senator Michaelia Cash’s outrageous rant about electric cars during the election, I bought one. It’s great (“Steering towards electric vehicles“, January 20). Only needs charging about every 10 days, which I do at home. Done 8000 kilometres and not cost a cent for power because of my solar panels. My favourite thing to do when stopped at traffic lights beside a tradie in a ute is to flatten the accelerator and leave them for dead when the lights turn green. – Margaret McDonald, Erina
A quick comparison of the electric vehicle charging maps of Sydney and, say, Utrecht in The Netherlands demonstrates the difference a bit of public policy can make. I checked out the maps because I can rent an electric vehicle for an upcoming trip to Europe for the same cost as the equivalent petrol or diesel car. It is also worth noting that motor vehicle emissions policy in European cities is driven just as much by adverse health effects and costs as by the impact of CO2 on global warming. – Rene Vogelzang, Haberfield
Having worked with children and adults with a disability as a teacher, support worker and volunteer, it is abundantly clear that many of the procedures associated with acquiring NDIS funding are slow and cumbersome (“Ailing NDIS faces new fix“, January 20). Ironically, many individuals and families are disadvantaged by the associated paperwork, which requires a level of literacy that is beyond many of the applicants. Then there is the limited knowledge, skills and experience of many disability support workers in the area of communication and behaviour management strategies. You simply can’t learn these skills via an “interactive online course” provided by NDIS. – Elizabeth Starr, Chiswick
John Broadbent (Letters, January 20) argues that a homeowner rebuilding in a bushfire-prone area should be allowed to overrule stringent building regulations and “decide what level of risk he/she is prepared to accept”. All well and good, except it is not only the individual homeowner’s risk that comes into play here. In urban bushland, those in neighbouring properties may be placed in harm’s way living next door to a potential fire hazard and, in bushland generally, volunteer and professional firefighters may be placed at heightened risk attempting to protect constructions that are unnecessarily susceptible to fire attack. – Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills
Go ahead Mr Broadbent, but don’t expect insurance companies to offer any form of cover nor the public to give generously when the house burns down. – Stewart Smith, Tea Gardens
John Broadbent’s right: we do not need regulation to protect ourselves from ourselves.
Ultimately, the only solution is to have less regulation and nanny-statism. That would allow and encourage people to develop and use common sense and to take personal responsibility for their decisions and actions. – Ross Drynan, Lindfield
Specialists’ duty of care
If specialists in NSW can charge the sort of fees that can leave many patients with huge gaps payments, while something like 86 per cent of all GP consultations are bulk-billed, why is it that patients expect it to be the GPs – not for instance the surgeon who has operated on the patient –who upload a diagnosis onto My Health Record (“Patients in NSW hit by medical fee gaps“, January 20)? In order to receive some much-needed incentive payments, GPs have been obliged to fulfil all the requirements to be able to upload data. This has been a costly and time-consuming exercise and specialists are most certainly not precluded from doing the same. And don’t get me started on a specialist requiring a “new referral” for a regular review, thereby being able to charge a higher fee. – Dr Ruth Ratner, Northbridge
I’m confident specialists in Sydney would be able to reduce their charge to as low as five times the recommended fee if exclusive private schools stopped raising their fees. – Debra Miniutti, Ashbury
As a school teacher, I was very conscious of the power of peer pressure and its consequences. Today I read that our doctors “suffer” from the very same ailment. It seems they charge exorbitant fees because everyone else does? – Lorraine Hickey, Green Point
Expensive spin cycle
Recruiting spin doctors says it all about the contemporary approach of government (“Transport for NSW offering up to $1.8m for spin doctors“, January 20). Sell off all the public assets to private operators, who then consolidate by reducing services to suit the bottom line rather than the public interest, and then spend wads of public money to convince the customer that the resultant poorer service is good for us. The track record of privatisation in this state is not a good one. Perhaps the money allocated to corporate spin would be better spent on restoring and improving services. – Max Redmayne, Russell Lea
Move in the right direction
Boris Johnson is to move the House of Lords to York (“Plan to move House of Lords“, January 20). Our PM should follow the mother country’s lead and move the Senate to Batemans Bay to help that region’s bushfire recovery. – Chris Hornsby, Bayview
Will Harry now be known as the Windsor formerly known as Prince? – Joe Weller, Lewisham
Journalists and newsreaders using the word ‘decimated’ are not using it correctly. It historically means one in ten, but now can mean a large number. Towns are not decimated unless a large number of towns have been wiped out. Similarly, areas are not decimated. However animals, trees or houses could be decimated. Sadly, in the recent bushfires, the damage has been far worse. – Jan Perry, Chatswood West
More than 160 retail collapses and closures already in 2020 due to weak sales (“Store closures could hit landlords”, January 20). The war waged by retailers against penalty rates appears to be a little bit on the Pyrrhic side. Nobody told them to be careful what you wish for? – Pat Francis, Jannali