Andrew Steele writes: Re. “Pell naps?” (yesterday). In “Tips and rumours” Crikey suggests: “Or he could be averting his eyes from the female priest, the Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon, who presided over the service (Pell is a staunch opponent of female ordination)”.
As well as female, in 2003 at the Uniting Church’s National Assembly, while head of the National Social Justice unit, Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon took the brave step of publicly outing herself as being in a lesbian relationship. All credit to Pell for being at a service presided over by a lesbian church leader.
Disclosure: as a member of the Uniting Church, I have great respect for Dorothy and her enormous contribution to the wider church community, both in Australia and internationally.
On Abbott and Hunt
Peter Burnett writes: Re. “Crikey Awards: in a year of incompetence, Abbott was the best” (yesterday). I’ve got no argument with your decision to name Greg Hunt as the least effective minister in 2013. However you should have noted his wonderful contribution on the international stage, as well as detailing his disastrous efforts on the domestic front (like most Australian media, Crikey seems to think that global warming stops at the borders of the Australian Capital Territory).
Just look Hunt’s record: joining Canada to block the consensus on adaptation funding at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting; refusing to contribute funds to the new Green Climate Fund, even though Australia has been serving as co-chair of the fund; earning the ire of most Least Developed Countries and Small Island States by supporting cuts to environment programs in the aid budget; not turning up to the Warsaw climate negotiations; giving a negotiating mandate to Australian officials in Warsaw that led to a walkout by G 77 negotiators. All this in just four months!
Mary Graham writes: I’m very disappointed in Crikey. I don’t know how you can say Abbott is the politician of the year. I won’t start pointing out all the things that I think he will eventually be brought down for (it’ll be a very long list), except to say I’ll remember your praise of him at this moment.
Crikey is an independent voice I take it — it’s not an arm of The Australian or some private online experiment of Murdoch, is it?
Rod Holesgrove writes: One would have to agree on your placing of Hunt as least effective minister for 2013. Perhaps he could be characterised as “the anti-environment minister”.
To qualify to comment on this matter I should mention that I served in the federal Environment Department from January 1973 to December 2003. I also have had postings in the OECD Environment Directorate (Paris) and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (New York). I worked briefly for the South Australian Department for the Environment and for a longer term, have worked as a consultant to an environment NGO. In the interests of transparency I should state that I am a member of the ALP and worked as a volunteer adviser on environment policies when Labor was in opposition from 2005 to the 2007 elections.
However, never in my experience have I seen an environment minister like Hunt, who is working actively to destroy Australia’s national environment governance system and critically important nationally protected areas that have been built up over the last 40 years by successive Labor and LNP governments. Your article focuses on climate change and refers to the Abbot Point approval. But to this I could add, just off the top of my head: the delegation of most Commonwealth environment approval powers to the states; its announced intent to completely overturn the critically important national marine reserve system; the intent to de-list the new World Heritage-listed Tasmanian forests area; the bizarre inquiry that will look at how “environmental regulations encroach on freedoms”; the abandonment of a deal to work with Japan and NZ on monitoring of Southern bluefin tuna; Australia’s refusal to support the international green climate fund; and, the recent disallowance of two critically endangered communities (one of which is the River Murray system).
It is difficult to identify any action by Hunt that is actually a positive for Australia’s environment.