Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Keane: I’m sick of the CPRS. To hell with you all.” (yesterday, item 3). I sympathise with Bernard Keane’s splendidly splenetic rant about the CPRS, but there’s a fairly obvious explanation for the government’s behaviour which he may have missed.

The government is looking after the constituency that matters.

Politicians depend on their parties for their seats. The parties depends on the big corporations and very wealthy individuals who pay their costs and give their senior people extremely well paid jobs. Ordinary voters are mostly in safe seats, are easily manipulated and are irrelevant.

Despite the superficial appearance of democracy we live in a de facto plutocracy. The people in control do not fear global warming. Their wealth and power protects from any consequences.

The CPRS (and the related policies of other wealthy nations including their drastic internal and external security measures) proves the richest people have decided (subconsciously, possibly) that a drastic cull of the world’s population is required; sooner the better.

Angus Sharpe writes:

Big Kev’s top secret memo to self #937564
Date: 16 November 2009
File under: Kevin2011(ish); Climate change; Project Keep the Libs And the Nats together at all costs

(1) Issue:

Minchin (not Tuckey — the contagion is spreading!) has moved the Libs even further to the right on climate change. Turnbull has not responded, so the Libs have now picked up the climate change stick and nailed it firmly to the Far Right Wall of Complete Denial.

(2) Action items:

Excellent <*drums fingers together*>:

(a) Move to the right again (i.e. no change to current plan). Stay as far to the right as possible. But just to the left of the Libs. Same solution as for:

– asylum seekers; and

– workplace relations (i.e. unions).

(b) Build Ark.

Clive Hamilton’s Holocaust deniers v climate change deniers argument:

Simon Mansfield writes: Re: Hamilton: Denying the coming climate holocaust (Yesterday, Item 4) This week’s attempt to use morality and denialism and still retain some historical honesty was the perfect example of the moral bankruptcy that is at the heart of Hamilton’s ideology.

Hamilton argues that climate denialism may in time be seen as a greater moral failure than the denial of the Nazi inspired Holocaust of the 1940s. The core element of Hamilton’s position is that a failure to act now will see the death of untold millions, leading eventually to the end of the Earth as an active biosphere due to a runaway greenhouse effect. For Hamilton, this is a moral and ethical issue that he sees himself as best positioned to make a judgment call on; and declare all thinking to the contrary as immoral.

This is pretty strong stuff and clearly sets the bar very high for all of us and as a consequence Hamilton himself. The problem is where does this morality start and stop. Hamilton by definition is a white Anglo Saxon male at the very top of the food chain on Planet Earth. Everyday he like most well educated Anglo Saxon men lives a life endowed with riches that most people on Planet Earth will never see let alone ever enjoy.

How much of that lifestyle has Hamilton given up already? And among his mob of fellow travelers the same question has to be asked. Just how much of civilization are any of you actually prepared to give up today, and actively rectify on a personal basis that vast imbalance of wealth and resource usage that clearly defines Western civilization. For me the central problem with making climate change the core issue of the environment and social justice movement is that it allows all the other pressing issues of today to be so easily ignored as an avalanche of bad science, bad technology and bad economics subsumes all other debates while making white men like Clive Hamilton feel morally superior to his neighbor. And that is clearly not true.

This complexity to the issue is avoided in all of the writings and speeches of Hamilton. Instead he continues to live a very comfortable life that today impinges on the world’s poor far more than climate change will do anytime soon. Climate change is not a moral issue. It is a science, technology and economics issue. For Hamilton to argue otherwise is simply moral vagrancy of the worst kind by someone who has clearly had the education and experience to know better.

Aboriginal Australia:

Justin Templer writes: Re. “Aboriginal Australia: like the poorest of Africa, says Amnesty chief” (yesterday, item 6). After reading of the visit of Irene Khan (Secretary General of Amnesty International) to Central Australia I am more confused about what solutions are available for the “Aboriginal problem” than ever before. Also confused, I think, is Ms Khan who described the situation she saw as both a tragedy and a puzzle, saying “they don’t need to be like this here”.

But it seems they do, if you listen to Rose Kunoth-Monks, a leader at Utopia. Rose insists that the locals live on their homelands out of choice and do not want to relocate to a large community with its neat streets like whitefellas. This is fine, but what is it that the community wants? If the Intervention is no good should whitefella society simply ignore Topsy Ngale, existing in dignified but desperate conditions in her humpy with her dogs?

“Ms Khan said the message from Aboriginal Australia was clear.” Not clear enough, but having a best guess: the current inhabitants of Utopia would like to retain the independence and dignity of their ancestors. But life is tough and houses would be preferable to humpies. So it would be great if the taxpayer could support the independence and pride of this community, “to live on (their) homelands out of choice, as (their) forefathers did for thousands of years”, by providing unrestricted welfare payments as well as building and supporting some comfy houses 250 kilometres from Alice Springs. Is this right?

Democracy, rights and voting:

“George” writes: Re. “Dust off your Smiths albums, it’s 1988 and the Australia Card all over again!” (yesterday, item 17). Peter Brent says that Nathan Rees’ legislation to automatically enrol people to vote is about “enfranchising Australians who easily drop off the roll or never get on it: Indigenous people, renters, transient workers, young people” and “dragging our electoral processes into the 21st century and into line with most comparable countries”.

What poppycock!

The best way to “enfranchise” anyone who is not on the roll is to educate them about their ability to enrol. Those people can then easily enrol (if they so choose) by filling out a simple form. The most likely things to come from Rees’ approach are not “enfranchisement” but instead:

  1. Unknowing default, when an election date comes and goes, of those people who’ve been automatically enrolled, and
  2. The auto-enrolment of a plethora of people who aren’t actually eligible to vote, such as NZ citizens.

As for bringing us into line with “comparable countries”, exactly which countries is Brent talking about? Cyprus? Lichtenstein? Nauru?? Brent fails to mention that only 19 countries enforce compulsory voting, and none of them are exactly major powers. Discussions in Australia about our “right to vote” are, in truth, about our obligation to vote. 90% of the world recognises the right not to vote. When will Australia?

Andrew Smart writes: Re. “‘Stronger democracy’ gives way to strong-arm democracy in NSW” (13 November, item 10). Hearing people continually whinge about “their rights” being infringed is starting to annoy me considerably. No-one in this world has any “rights” what-so-ever without a commensurate level of responsibility, and nor should they.

Voting within a democracy is not a “right” but a responsibility. It is as necessary for the proper functioning of our democratic society as driving on the left hand side of the road is for the proper and safe functioning of our roads. What next? Will we be hearing these people say it is their “right” to drive on whatever side of the road they choose. Encroachment of their “right” to choose!

Compulsion to exercise the responsibility to vote is as necessary as enforcing all citizen’s exercise their responsibility to drive on the left-hand side of the road. Otherwise some form of anarchy will result. The last time I heard someone whine so much about compulsory voting was Kiwi Derryn Hinch, two federal elections ago.

You’re in great company Bernard Keane.


Andrew Bartlett writes: Re. 13 November’s editorial. Crikey’s editorial on Friday 13th was wrong in suggesting we shouldn’t have a debate on population. The sloppy anti-migrant, pro-profligacy arguments provided in comments yesterday provide a very good reason why this population debate should be as thorough as possible.

Of course, there have been population debates happening both locally and globally for many years. They get an extra lease of life whenever new local population projections are released, but continue on quite steadily in between times.

I have been followed those debates since the early 1990s and it is always ironic to read those regular participants in that debate who also keep insisting it isn’t happening usually at the same time as alleging that a conspiracy of silence is being imposed by virtue of an improbable alliance of pretty much everyone who disagrees with them (which just happens to be a majority of people with views across the political spectrum).

Calling for curtailing of debates on population just plays into the hands of those who wrongly argue that the majority of people would support massive constraints on the movement of people into Australia, if only they were allowed to talk about it.

The many arguments as to why such non-solutions would be unjust, unworkable and ignoring the core causes of environmental degradation in Australia need to be aired as often as possible, both to ensure that few people get conned by the empty logic of any neo-Hansonites and even more importantly so that more attention gets focused on where the real problems are with our environment, planning, infrastructure and lifestyles.

Andrew Lewis writes: As with some of yesterday’s correspondents, I too strongly disagree with your editorial suggesting that immigration policy should be quietly played out behind the political scenes. There are a host of good reasons why it should be front and centre of political debate. In fact, having a climate change (and CPRS) debate without reference to immigration levels is just senseless. Environmental debates, economic debates, pretty much the entire scope of politics has this ridiculous unstated, unspoken policy underpinning it.

However the correspondents who caned you for it most somehow managed to give weight to your argument. If that is the quality of debate that would ensue, then perhaps your argument makes some sense, but we need to have the debate, even if it is a difficult one.

Kudos also to Michelle Loh for her well researched article on the wage gap. Unfortunately she blots her copy book by repeating the false conclusion that many have made, that women are being paid less to do the same work. Women are being paid less, and the statistics are no lie, but not for the same work. Many high profile women have repeated this false claim. It is wrong.

Matt McLeod writes: Re. Dierdre Ryan (yesterday, comments). The reason so many Aussie high-achievers leave this country is its backwards-looking and overly-conservative institutions and culture. This has been true for many generations and I’m not seeing any real prospect of change. It’s a great place to bring up kids or retire but if you want to do anything remotely out of the current mainstream, start looking at your emigration options.

Dave Horsfall writes: Could Crikey contributors PLEASE STOP SHOUTING? About the third issue is a row, now, and it doesn’t make their arguments any better.

Melbourne University:

Carmel Murphy, Executive Director, Office of Admissions, University of Melbourne, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Your tipster is apparently unaware that it is usual practice in Victorian universities that students apply through VTAC to be considered for a different degree to their current degree.

At Melbourne we also have students seeking to change degrees and in the past students tended to apply directly to the University and back it up with a VTAC application.

Requiring them to apply only through VTAC cuts confusion, makes selection more transparent and ensures that all applicants are considered at the same time and offered accordingly.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey