Climate change, CPRS and politics:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “The CPRS: what the Liberals want” (yesterday, item 2). With due respect to Bernard Keane, he failed to mention in his otherwise excellent article, the main reason Malcolm Turnbull gives for his requirements. The reason the Liberals want to ease up on industry, especially the coal industry, is saving jobs, so they tell us. I’m sure I heard Malcolm and other Liberals say this many times over the last few weeks.

During the last forty years in Australia I have seen thousands of jobs disappear, whole industries leave our shores and have heard the mantras of unavoidable change, cost with efficiency and not much about the jobs that have gone. The bottom dwellers in the jobs hierarchy had to accept the changes in good spirit because it was good for the economy and thus the country and in fact they were being subjected to tough love. It was good for them.

The Liberals’ concern for Australian jobs, especially in the coal industry is heart warming and makes me feel all fuzzy inside. They seem to have lost interest in “The Market” and become all touchy feely. It sounds almost too good to be true but perhaps I’m being cynical.

Les Heimann writes: So on and on it goes; the politicisation of doing nothing to prevent the inevitable. Remember when we used to look at atlases or those globes that used to spin around and look like classy furniture? Well if you do remember you will recall the different colours. The colour brown representing that part of the earth with no, or little, vegetation. Compare those old maps with coloured sat maps today. Yes – those brown bits are much bigger.

Now this may not be climate change. In South America it’s called business and industry. Yes that’s deforestation of the Amazon big time. Cutting down trees causes climate change. Less rain falls and the rain that does fall carries away the soil and deposits it into the ocean and that deoxygenates the ocean which means less rain.

The one area where we should be having a raging worldwide debate is about what we do. It’s not about who pays and how and it’s not about complicated trading schemes and so on. It is about stopping logging. It is about methaneless animal farming. It is about clean energy. It is about electric cars and so on. And ultimately it absolutely is about — gasp — nuclear energy! Yes it is clean energy. We just have to work out how to detoxify the waste — or get rid of it safely.

True political leadership would have us engage in meaningful discussion on all these points — internationally. Keep the world green and we will all pay a little to make it happen. Think of all those millions of new jobs in new industries, why we would all come out winners. Get real before it is too late — concentrate on the bottom line.

David Gothard writes: Another example of Rudd and Turnbull going for the complex solution.

We have a perfectly good taxation system. Let’s skip the crap and apply a tax per tonne of CO2 emitted. Apply it to every producer regardless. Perhaps with a sliding and increasing scale. The market would soon learn to move to lower polluting industries and those who cannot would soon close the shop. Or would seek ways to reduce their emissions and the tax impact.

Emitters would find consumers deserting them and moving to non polluting activities. Use the funds derived to subsidise the non-polluting activities. This is a simple solution but is absolutely certain to achieve the results we must obtain.

Brett Gaskin writes: Much of the discussion around the ETS seems to be about who will be paying for the emissions generated by big business. The argument is focussed on how much taxpayer money will be given to various industries to “purchase” the right to pollute.

How exactly does paying for the pollution make it go away? Is there any point of having a system of trading emissions allowances if we are still emitting the same amount of climate changing stuff? Surely the objective is to reduce the amount of stuff we generate, but there is not much discussion about this.

Asylum seekers:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “When it comes to asylum seekers, Australia is no Malta” (yesterday, item 3). Sean Carmody, writing from A Stubborn Mule’s Perspective and measuring our ranking in terms of generosity to displaced persons, proposes that “Malta is by far the most welcoming country for refugees”, with Australia comparing unfavorably well down the list in 20th place.

To assist our understanding Sean reproduces a graph of “countries who reported accepting asylum-seekers” over the 2009 year to August and applies a “magic (average) line” to extrapolate how many asylum seekers Australia should accept. I’m sorry to bring boring facts to the table, Sean, but you may have noticed that the graph measures applications, not acceptances. Helpfully the graph is even labeled “Applications/mil. population”. Being quite close to Africa one might expect Malta to rank high in number of applications received — but not necessarily in acceptances.

To further assist Sean, the Stubborn Mule website itself provides a convenient link to a BBC report which tells us that “Malta has been under criticism for its policy on asylum seekers, which the UN says is by far the strictest in Europe”. Sean writes that “it is worth trying to keep a cool head and get some perspective from the numbers”.

I agree, but it would help if the numbers were right and Crikey’s editorial standards allowed us to accept what is written as being at least approximately correct.


Hilary Russell. Deputy Head, Research Strategy, NHMRC, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Crikey published:

Medical researchers around the nation are waiting with bated breath for the “official” announcement of the outcomes NHMRC funding for project grants for 2010. People’s lives, salaries, futures and careers are dependent on this funding and yet the minister is sitting on the results. In the meantime, universities have been breaking embargo from last Monday (October 12), telling individual researchers in an ad hoc fashion as to whether their grants got up or not. Some have been contacted and others haven’t. Is she simply waiting for a politically opportune time to make it all official while medical researchers have to sweat?

We thought you might be interested in the NHMRC response to the yesterday’s “Tips & Rumours”. All successful applicants for current NHMRC Project Grants have been notified, under embargo, to ensure they are able to plan their work for the year ahead.

The formal announcement event profiling a number of successful applicants is to be held next week.

Send your comments, corrections, clarifications and c*ck-ups to [email protected]. Preference will be given to comments that are short and succinct: maximum length is 200 words (we reserve the right to edit comments for length). Please include your full name — we won’t publish comments anonymously unless there is a very good reason.

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Peter Fray
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