Latrobe Valley pits would be ideal site for landfill

Latrobe Valley pits would be ideal site for landfill

December 13, 2020

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THE ENVIRONMENT

Latrobe Valley pits would be ideal site for landfill
Jill Dumsday’s letter (‘‘Endangering an agricultural ecosystem’’, The Age, 12/12) makes several solid points. Another good use of the open pits left by the brown coal extraction in the Latrobe Valley would be as a dump for Melbourne’s kerbside garbage collection.

The methane created could be collected and burnt to generate electricity. Most of the infrastructure is already in place: the power generators, the transmission lines, the rail link to Melbourne, the local service industries and the skilled workforce. The Woodlawn bioreactor near Canberra has been operating since 2004 and handles 20 per cent of Sydney’s garbage and generates enough electricity to supply 30,000 homes. The composted garbage, once exhausted of methane, could be used as top-dressing by the growers of fresh fruit and vegetables in the nearby regions.

This has to be a win all round. All it needs is an infrastructure commitment from Daniel Andrews’ government to kick-start the conversion from brown coal to methane processed from garbage to drive the turbines of the Latrobe Valley.
John Mosig, Kew

Our trading partners will pressure us
The line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth sums up the Prime Minister last week – ‘‘there’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face’’. Outwardly, the PM and his cocksure fossil-fuel advocates in the Coalition are dismissive of the cold shoulder given to Australia at the global climate summit on the weekend. ‘‘No big deal. Who wants to speak there anyway?’’ is their churlish attitude.

Beneath the smug face lies a fuming government that wanted to use the opportunity to boast its climate credentials by crowing to the world that they weren’t going to fudge the ‘‘Kyoto credit’’ numbers on carbon emissions any more.

But there’s a hard edge to this. Further pressure on the government to do more on climate (by setting more ambitious targets) will come from our trading partners who condemn us and will punish us for being the climate laggards we are. Our exports don’t need any more headwinds than we are already feeling from China. It’s time for Australia to get on board the Fiji PM’s metaphorical climate canoe.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

The world has refused to back this mine
The UN Secretary-General has called for all development finance institutions to stop funding fossil fuel projects (‘‘UK to end funding fossil fuel projects’’, The Sunday Age, 13/12).

Adani has been scouring the world trying to find finance for its rail link and mine in the Galilee Basin. Most major banks have ruled out financing Adani’s project presumably having priced in the risk of stranded assets and public disdain. According to the Stop Adani campaign, Adani has now turned to the State Bank of India for help.

Our government has failed to stop this irresponsible carbon bomb of a project. Will the Indian government listen to the UN and have the vision and fortitude to say no to Adani?
Lynn Frankes, Kew

He’s barking up the wrong tree
Our Prime Minister was barking up the wrong tree if he was trying to emulate John Howard’s ‘‘we’ll decide who comes here’’ when he declared in Parliament that Australian climate policy would be set in Australia and in the national interest (‘‘PM shrugs off summit speaking gig’’, The Age, 11/12.

For starters, Mr Morrison, the laws of nature that dictate climate change couldn’t give a toss about Australia’s national interest.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East

He really meant to say this …
Scott Morrison’s response to being locked out of a UN climate summit speaking spot should be revised due to an acknowledged lack of accuracy and instead read: ‘‘The only approval I seek for the policies of my government and the ones I answer to is the backbench, the IPA, the Minerals Council, big business, oh, and political donors. That’s it. The Australian people, not so much.’’
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North

THE FORUM

Have we learnt nothing?
Did the citizens of Victoria endure one of the harshest lockdowns on the planet just to let it all be placed in jeopardy by allowing foreign students to return (‘‘Students in limbo as harvest plan agreed’’, The Age, 12/12) and quarantine in campus accommodation.

Have we not learnt the lessons of the past few months that people basically cannot be trusted to obey the rules and that foreign students coming from highly infectious countries are a disaster waiting tohappen?

Successive governments of both persuasions only have themselves to blame if the university sector is crying out for the return of foreign students to cover their financial problems.

By failing to see the benefit of a well-funded government higher education system, is it now time to pay the piper for their mistakes both financially and by putting at risk again the health of the state of Victoria?
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris

Test them before they fly
Victorians have worked hard to eliminate COVID-19. Now there are more cases due to people flying in from overseas. Why aren’t these travellers tested before starting the journey home and refused entry if they have the virus?

Allowing these unwell people to board a plane, possibly infect the crew and other passengers then enter Australia doesn’t make sense.
Margaret Ward, Sorrento

Christmas Island is ideal
Here’s an idea: We could open up the Christmas Island camp to full operation for quarantine to allow many more Aussies to return home. To protect the Biloela family from possible exposure to COVID-19, they could be sent back to Biloela.

The government could save face and justice would be served.
Ann Romain, Sale

Cause for concern
Based on FluTracking data, 65-80per cent of Australians with runny nose and sore throat and 40-60 per cent of Australians with fever and cough do not get a coronavirus test. The number of daily coronavirus tests in Victoria is now about one-third of what it was in August, during the peak of the second wave, when about 45 per cent of symptomatic Victorians were not getting a coronavirus test.

Is the current testing rate adequate to identify SARS-CoV-2 in the community? The epidemiologists are not sure, but their advice seems to be consistent with the precautionary principle, and with Premier Daniel Andrews’ catchcry, ‘‘If you have even the mildest of symptoms, get tested’’. ‘‘Get tested’’ could be added to the prevention mantra of ‘‘physical distancing and hand hygiene’’.

Is social responsibility an adequate incentive for getting tested, and an adequate deterrent to not getting tested?

Barriers to coronavirus testing seem to include attitudes, access, and inconvenience: More testing centres? Mobile testing services?

A problematic attitude? ‘‘Who cares? Zero cases again, and a vaccine just around the corner …’’
Andrew Baird, Elwood

No need to hesitate
You reported on the potential and risks for accelerating trade talks with Taiwan (‘‘Australia, Taiwan in trade talks amid tensions with China’’, 13/12).

One would wonder why there would now be any hesitancy on the part of the government given that China is such a thoroughly unreliable trading partner and has set out to make bullying part of any relationship that we might have with them.

Taiwan has also requested closer ties with Australia through sharing information and intelligence, which would help counter China’s illegal claims to the South China Sea.
Surely we cannot allow our sovereignty to be dictated to by an unreliable trading partner and roll over and just accept the threats to our and other Pacific countries’ safety.
Mel Green, Glen Waverley

Only a matter of time
If anyone does manage to get through to someone in authority in China, could you please ask them if their aggression and vindictiveness are targeted at the Australian people or the Australian government?

If it is the latter, could you remind them that we have regular democratic elections, and the next one will be in less than two years’ time?
Paul Sands, Sunbury

What’s going on?
The Prime Minister insists that “Australia’s climate and energy policy will be set here in Australia”. As quoted in this paper (‘‘PM shrugs off summit speaking gig’’, 11/12) Morrison says: “The only approval I seek for the policies of my government is the Australian people.” Have your readers been consulted? I doubt it.

With the replacement of the COAG Energy Council by the secretive Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee, communication seems to have all but dried up.

Apart from a brief notice in a website report of the September 4 meeting of the national cabinet, we know nothing of the deliberations of the new committee.

Under Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor meetings are conducted under strict rules of cabinet confidentiality. But they are tasked by the national cabinet to develop a package of reforms “to unlock new gas supply, improve competition in the market and better regulate pipelines”.

The people’s approval of the PM and Nev Power’s gas-led recovery seem to have been taken as read. If climate change has made it onto the reform committee agenda, we wouldn’t know.
John Gare, Kew East

Right on the money
I wholeheartedly endorse the statement of Labor MP Warren Snowdon (‘‘Veteran MP to ‘roll up the swag’’’, The Age, 11/12) that the nation cannot reach maturity until Aboriginal Australians were given full recognition and the demands by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for compensation for land stolen and social and cultural disruption were addressed.

I would like to add that I hope to live to see the day when our national flag is golden stars on a field of Aussie green with the Indigenous flag replacing the Union Jack.
Michael Elvins, Holbrook, NSW

A huge embarrassment
Let me get this straight. The Morrison government wasn’t embarrassed by being snubbed by the recent climate summit. This is despite having no national strategy to meaningfully address climate change.

There is a real likelihood that it will miss the low emissions targets set years ago. If it miraculously meets these pitiful targets, this will be the result of state leadership on renewables that it seeks to undermine at every turn.

Unbelievably it expected kudos for not using carry-over credits. It has also failed to set new targets. All this, combined with the undue influence of the fossil fuel industry and the climate deniers in government, is hugely embarrassing to me.
Trevor King, St Kilda East

Why does this continue?
In 1990 the state of WA banned duck shooting. In 1995 NSW did the same followed by Queensland in 2005. All done under Labor governments successfully led by Carmen Lawrence, Bob Carr and Peter Beattie, respectively.

In 2020 this anachronistic activity remains in Victoria with no explanation offered by the Andrews government as to why this cruel assault on our defenceless and valuable waterbirds is still allowed.
Apparently there are about 1500registered shooters in the state although it’s unknown how many illegal shooters in excess of this add to the havoc in our wetlands between March and June of each year.

The Andrews government fancies itself as the most progressive state in Australia and on this score alone it is not .When will our number plates be changed from The Education State or The Place to Be to The Redneck State?
Tony Delaney, Warrnambool

They can do this
We teach our students not to be bystanders to injustice, to respect others and reject the policies of oppression and discrimination that litter their history textbooks. Yet here I sit at a cafe enjoying the sunshine and just a few kilometres away at the Mantra Hotel stands a stark reminder these same lessons are lost on some of our politicians.

In a country that prides itself on the ‘‘fair go’’, how can the indefinite detention of asylum seekers in our suburbs even be contemplated, let alone implemented? Why should citizens be forced to accept the role of bystanders in the face of this inhumane policy? Why are we incapable of doing what is clearly right and ending the misery inflicted on the powerless and vulnerable?

For a government well practised in spin and marketing it shouldn’t be too hard to design a campaign that appeals to the better nature of Australians and brings them along with a change in policy that grants these people an amnesty and belatedly salvage some shreds of human decency.

After all, they have already successfully created a narrative that has many forgetting the lessons of the past and prepared to accept injustice and cruelty.
Paul Sinclair, Thornbury

He must act now
Our Prime Minister insists he prioritises Australians and not pressure from overseas leaders. So how come he doesn’t seem to know a statistic such as ‘‘84 per cent of Australians are willing to take action on climate change’’? (The Climate Cure, Tim Flannery).

The PM must stop making a public fool of himself and act now to set truly ambitious 2030 and 2050 emissions reduction targets for all our sakes. Plus act accordingly including cancelling new fossil fuel mining and really helping our long-suffering Pacific ‘‘family’’.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

We still need America
The US Supreme Court has unequivocally refused the facile attempt by the Texas Republicans to overturn the election result. Despite the fact the court has a supposedly leaning Republican majority and three Trump appointees, they have displayed what we would expect of any court – independence and respect for the law.

This result gives hope that the Republican party, post the period it has been beholden to a delusional and vicious adolescent, may be capable of a reset and return to the party of Abraham Lincoln.

We can only hope that this happens. The world still needs an ‘‘adult’’ America to help us all through the turbulent times ahead.
Bob Malseed, Hawthorn

AND ANOTHER THING

The pandemic
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to test international travellers to Australia before they got on the plane rather than after they got off?
Bill Gilbert, Olinda

Credit:

Surely the 2020 word of the year should have been “lockdown”.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

Climate change
Georgie Cripps may be right in saying that most Australians want action on climate change (Letters, 13/12). Unfortunately, however, this desire was not reflected when they voted.
Dave Torr, Werribee

The last thing the UN conference on climate change wanted was a lot of hot air blowing from Australia.
John Rome, Mount Lawley, WA

Perhaps the organisers of the climate summit should have invited Australian premiers as a replacement for the Prime Minister.
Marie Nash, Balwyn

Don’t take the snub to heart, Scott, somebody’s got to keep the home fires burning.
Don Stewart, Port Fairy

A tall order
Can someone help me purchase a frying pan big enough to cook Neil Perry’s “Home made” recipe in Friday’s Age (11/12)? I’ve looked everywhere, but cannot find one big enough for 500kg of live clams.
Rob Prowd, Box Hill South

The US election
Perhaps annoyingly for Donald Trump his appointed judges in the US Supreme Court have demonstrated that ‘‘quid pro quo’’ can take second place to rule of law when it really counts.
John Weston, Melton South

Furthermore
Why this focus on what returned travellers in hotel quarantine are being served for meals? It’s only two weeks.
Margaret Ludowyk, Brunswick

Finally
Vale Charley Pride, one of the greatest country singers of all times. Your songs gave me so much pleasure.
Robert Scheffer, Bayswater North

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