Promotion of fossil fuel borders on the criminal

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

So let me get this right: Angus Taylor will take taxpayer money from renewables to develop more gas, as California suffers its first ‘‘fire domes’’ and 38 degrees is recorded in the Arctic Circle. And this is to lead our ‘‘recovery’’. That’s it? Meanwhile planning regulations for the Star of the South offshore wind project (to power more than a million homes and save Latrobe Valley workers) languishes on Taylor’s desk, and Mike Cannon-Brookes gets on with Sun Cable to power Singapore with zero-emissions Australian solar power.

They’re wilfully ignoring fire chiefs again. Gas is a fossil fuel. At what point does consciously promoting climate change become criminal?
Gillian Upton, Balaclava

Industry controls levers of government policy
The PM’s ‘‘gas-led recovery’’ (‘‘PM’s ‘gas-led recovery’ to avert power price rises’’, 15/9) is a frightening example of industry control of government. Renewables with storage are already the cheapest new-build electricity source available and by far the quickest to bring online. They have already reduced the wholesale price of electricity for all consumers. Gas is not a low-emissions energy source when its fugitive emissions are considered and it consists mainly of methane, a greenhouse gas far more damaging than carbon dioxide.

It seems the Morrison government is deliberately ignoring the facts. Renewables with storage are cheaper than new-build gas, they do not emit vast quantities of greenhouse gases and they also create more jobs. The AEMO, the government’s peak energy advisory body, does not see the need for more gas-fired power stations.

Our obligations under the UNFCCC Paris agreement preclude the extraction and burning of more fossil fuels, yet the Morrison government has abrogated its responsibilities to Australians, Australia and the world and handed control of our future to the gas industry.
Helen Moss, Croydon

Price point of gas entirely down to supply
Scott Morrison claims he will keep gas prices lower by opening up new gas fields and gas import facilities. Despite any evidence that this will make any real difference to consumers it is completely unnecessary. We are the largest gas producer in the world but we increase prices for local consumers by virtually giving nearly all of it away to the rest of the world. The government simply has to tell producers that an adequate amount will be reserved for locals, sold at government-monitored prices.
Ross Hudson, Camberwell

Gas jobs will not be future-proof
The Morrison government is handing out money to projects that were already going ahead or that the private sector won’t back. There is no logic to this. It doesn’t fit the government’s rhetoric and fundamental principles, and with this gas-fired option, it doesn’t bring much in the way of jobs either. By shifting its focus from gas to renewables, and prioritising future-proof jobs, the government can protect Australian workers and the environment at the same time.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

Gas is not an answer but part of the problem
“PM’s ‘gas-led recovery’ to avert power price rises” (15/9) bore news that was equally predictable and disappointing. It was predictable given the fossil fuel-heavy membership of the original National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission. It was disappointing in its promotion of gas as a remedy for the nation’s energy needs and costs. Gas is not so much an answer as part of the problem. The economic and environmental costs of the gas supply chain – exploration, extraction, processing, transport and consumption – are unacceptable. Even if the government succeeds in driving down domestic prices, this is a short-term solution causing long term harm. The renewable energy sector has matured sufficiently to lead the way to a safe and cost-effective recovery. All that’s needed is a government prepared to invest in the future, not in the past.
Tom Knowles, Parkville

THE FORUM

Middle East peace
One imagines most people, especially in the Middle East, would hope that a lasting peace is possible between all countries (‘‘Israel, UAE deal shatters old barriers’’, 15/9). The latest agreement between Israel and the UAE does not necessarily equate to that happening. Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine is an indictment on the suffering of Palestinians for more than 70 years. The hypocrisy of many Western nations who espouse liberal democracies, not to address the Occupation, is an abuse of the human rights of Palestinians.
Judith Morrison, Mount Waverley

Local knowledge erodes
With many local papers now closed, how do we know when the local elections are to be held? Apparently we are to have a local election in Gippsland but we don’t know when or where to turn up for this happy event, nor do we know who gets our vote. With the demise of local papers we aren’t sure of who is performing well for the residents they are supposedly working for. This job was always left to the local papers, but now the whole selection process is left to the ignorant. The end result is that if we work out when this does happen and we miss the opportunity to voice our decision, will we be fined for non-appearance.
Laurie Vaughan, Bairnsdale

Cheer for the scientists
As the coronavirus pandemic rages, we cheer on scientists as they feverishly work on a vaccine. Yet strangely, we ignore climate scientists who have repeatedly shown us how to vaccinate against another problem, a climate-induced pandemic. Rising temperatures, droughts, wildfires, violent storms and floods, loss of habitat and species are the stuff of daily news items, however for this crisis we’ve joined the ‘‘anti-vaxxer’’ brigade.
Brenda Tait, Kew

PM’s lack of empathy
Unfortunately for Australians the Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not appear to be good in a crisis. His missteps and lack of empathy during the bushfire crisis earlier this year were well reported. Now similar issues are arising. Mr Morrison has been accused by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of a blatant attempt at bullying her. He also publicised the time and place of a private funeral. In doing so Mr Morrison politicised a family tragedy to put pressure on the Queensland Premier over border closures. He ‘‘made an absolutely devastating time for (the) family even harder’’ (‘‘Sister hits out at PM on funeral’’, 14/9). If the PM cannot act appropriately, if he cannot refrain from politicising disaster, if he is going to make matters worse then perhaps he could get permission from Peter Dutton to leave the country, and take another holiday? Failing that, he should increase the time he is spending with his empathy coach.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

Deniers still in charge
Shaun Carney asks ‘‘does it [the Morrison government] believe climate change is a big problem or not?’’ (‘‘What has this Coalition government actually achieved in seven years?’’, 14/9). Clearly ‘‘not’’. The Morrison government’s underlying beliefs on climate change were laid bare at the global climate change negotiations in Madrid last December. Even as bushfires raged in Australia, Angus Taylor was in Madrid undermining global efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Still the government has weak emission reduction targets, no clear plan, and incoherent policies. Its latest big idea is for a gas-led recovery. The climate change deniers are still in control of the federal Coalition.
Richard Fone, Camberwell

International guidance
If the PM can demand a road map from the states for their closures, where is his road map about our international border closure? And his plan for easing the return of our own citizens? There are at least 25,000 Australians who are still trying to return to Australia. After two months of arrivals limits, and seat cancellations by airlines, the federal government said it won’t even review it until after October 24. Why not?
John Boyce, Richmond

Fiery ideology
Commenting on the deadliest firestorms on record in California and Oregon, California Governor Gavin Newsom has denounced the ‘‘ideological BS’’ of climate deniers. ‘‘The debate is over around climate change,’’ he said. ‘‘Unless we disabuse ourselves of all the BS that’s being spewed by a very small group’’, the time to act will be lost. A view shared by former NSW fire chief Greg Mullins, who said US wildfires are a ‘‘direct reflection’’ of what happened here last summer, with more than 10 million hectares burnt, more than 3000 homes destroyed and 33 lives lost. While Trump blames ‘‘bad forest management’’, Morrison has said climate is just ‘‘one of many factors’’ which caused our bushfires. With his ‘‘gas-led recovery’’, it appears the PM has learnt nothing from the devastation caused by last summer’s conflagration.
Neil Hudson, East Melbourne

Fuel sales will rise
If taxpayers are rescuing the Geelong oil refinery then why don’t we own it. The CEO can drop off the keys at the gate and leave it to us. Seriously after decades of mega profit the shareholders can’t stomach a few months of belt tightening. Spoiler alert … fuel sales are gonna pick up again.
Cindy O’Connor, Brunswick

Act quickly on aged care
A single red flag in the Oxford vaccine trials resulted in the immediate suspension and recalibration of the work to protect human subjects. Likewise, the glaring failures in the aged care system evident in the avoidable deaths and neglect of the elderly need rectification right now, not in the distant future after the royal commission into aged care has wound up. Immediate corrective action will not undermine the inquiry and will deny cover to the missing in action Minister for Aged Care.
Peter McQuillan, Hobart, Tas.

Porte climbs high
So disappointing to read the Tour de France snippet made no mention that an Australian, Richie Porte, was third across the line after the climb up the Grand Colombier. He outrode all but two of the international climbers. An effort worth reporting I would have thought.
Elaine Connolly, Keysborough

Elderly have paid taxes
How low can free market economists go? A HECS scheme for the elderly? Endless complaints about the aged care spend, about $20 billion of taxpayers’ money? We elderly paid our taxes. We raised a generation of taxpayers, and they likewise. So whose money is it? They are the taxes paid by our children and those of our grandchildren who are already working. It’s not as if we’ve just shown up. We’ve been on the scene since 1946, yet government after government has ignored our future – our now – needs.
Sandra Goldbloom Zurbo, Castlemaine

Alarmist claims
What a sweeping statement Helen Scheller (Letters, 14/9), that human lives mean little if human rights are torpedoed and freedom of movement curtailed; and all Victorians are right to feel alarmed and angry.

We are not living in North Korea, or China or Iran or Belarus or in some tin-pot dictatorship in Africa. We are living in Victoria, Australia and we are certainly not all alarmed as you suggest. We are fighting a pandemic and need the number of infections in our state to come down, so the rest of Australia can open up to us and we can visit loved ones over Christmas. We are close to finishing our race now, so let’s make sure there are no missteps in the final furlong.
Peter Schiller, Camberwell

I prefer protection
I must correct some assumptions from Helen Scheller. She states that we are ‘‘tired of curfews and lockdowns’’. I live in Melbourne and I am happy to live with some restrictions due to the pandemic. As an older woman, I am at greater risk of death if I contract the virus. I think it appropriate for those living in the country to have some freedoms not available to us city dwellers. More open spaces and a smaller population means that you may have some freedoms that would be dangerous to city dwellers. I am not ‘‘alarmed and angry’’. I am relaxed and comfortable that the Premier has chosen to protect us from those who would use this pandemic to further their cause, whether they be anti-vaxxers or just common garden variety idiots.
Carol Reed, Newport

Self-reliance not liquid
Fuel security by adding more storage with $211 million of taxpayer funds will entrench our reliance on imported oil. If the federal government is worried about our capacity to withstand disruption to oil supplies due to wars, trade disputes or natural disasters, rather than a mere two-week extension, let’s direct the $211 million and all those petrodollars which flow out of the country into building self-reliance: using free energy from wind and solar, with battery back-up. Then we’ll have fuel security, sovereignty, self-reliance and real jobs.
Dick Friend, Melbourne

Lazy fuel approach
BP is ‘‘reimagining’’ the oil and gas industry and aims to become a net-zero emitter by 2050. ‘‘The world is on an unsustainable path and its carbon budget is running out,’’ BP chief executive Bernard Looney is quoted as saying. Meanwhile, in Canberra, Energy Minister Angus Taylor proudly states: ‘‘Our farmers and miners rely heavily on diesel to do their jobs and provide services, while the transport sector sources 98 per cent of its energy from liquid fuels.’’ His lazy, ‘‘business-as-usual’’ approach to the energy crisis displays a wilful ignorance of the disastrous environmental and economic consequences of his government’s attachment to fossil fuels. Big business no longer sees fossil fuels as viable, while our government plunges the taxpayer into billions of dollars worth of stranded assets.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East

AND ANOTHER THING …

Credit:

Energy
With its ‘‘mammoth’’ support for gas, the government has thrown ‘‘technology neutral’’ out the window and put emissions reduction on the back burner.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Doesn’t our ‘‘free market’’ Coalition see the double irony of a gas-fired power station being built by Hydro 2?
Gary Sayer, Warrnambool

Gas, the new coal, but without the optics of a piece being waved around the House of Reps. And damn the environmental consequences.
Michael Oxer, Fitzroy North

Coronavirus
Is it OK for my wife to declare me her pet and send me to a dog groomer for a haircut?
Ron Burnstein, Heidelberg

So The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was right after all. With 42 cases on Monday but no deaths, that surely is the meaning of life.
Ray Pilbeam, Canterbury

Louis Roller (Letters, 15/9) is right. Ethics trumps ‘‘rights’’.
Gael Barrett, North Balwyn

I’m enjoying the simple symmetry of modern life. In the evening, we get the stockmarket numbers, and in the morning we get the COVID cases and death numbers.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton

If the states’ hotel quarantine facilities are full, why can’t we put some of the returnees into the hotels in Canberra? Not much has happened there this year.
Breda Hertaeg, Beaumaris

Trump
Groucho Marx was quoted as saying ‘‘He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.’’ How prescient of Groucho.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Trump says climate change will go away. Will he lead by example?
Tony Lenten, Glen Waverley

So good old Trumpy’s got it sorted. Clear the leaves off the forest floors. We’re gunna need a bigger leaf blower, Donny boy. But I’m sure it’ll be tremendous, like nothing we’ve seen before.
Paul Davies, Frankston

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