Sharri and Barry — the ongoing feud

Mungo McCallum writes: Re. “Barry v The Australian: part 12,344” (yesterday). Sharri Markson thinks Paul Barry is obsessed with the Murdoch press in general and The Australian in particular, and Barry reckons the Murdoch press is obsessed with the ABC. To to some extent both are right, but the real story is The Australian’s obsession with itself. I have better things to do than keep count of all the editorials, feature pieces and interminable Cut and Paste columns devoted to the proposition that the Oz is always right and everyone else is wrong; but surely no other publication in history has ever devoted so much time and space to contemplating its own navel and extolling the fluff it finds therein.

Chris Mitchell obviously believes that his paper not only reports news, analyses news and makes news — it actually is news. Wrong, Chris,  and it’s time you either got the message or got your hand off it.

On amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act

Maire Mannik writes: Re. “Racial Discrimination Act: Brandis moves to amend — not repeal — 18C” (yesterday). Ah, yes, of course you can continue to vilify on the basis of gender as much as ever, so the Prime Minister and most religions can continue their good work without any annoying criminal charges. Although surely the Book of Mormon with its many sections on non-white skin being evil could still be done under 18C.

No upside to fracking

Brad Sherman writes: Re. “The case against fracking” (yesterday). Shaun Drabsch wields the traditional logic-chopping argument that fracking didn’t cause the contamination of the aquifer in the Pilliga, rather, poor storage of fracking fluids was responsible. He’s probably correct that the impact of fracking — by increasing the permeability of soil/rock — hasn’t yet been shown to contaminate an aquifer. It will probably take a year or two for relatively new research projects in the United States to shed some light on this.

What we do know is that fracking fluids have spilled into the environment and caused considerable harm on multiple occasions in different countries as a result of inadequate containment facilities on the surface. As a water researcher for 20+ years, I’m far more concerned about surface water contamination than aquifer contamination. If I had a bore, I’d probably be pretty concerned about the ground water, too.

The Pilliga episode simply confirms that contaminants produced by fracking operations, which in my book must include containment on the surface as well, have entered groundwater systems. If they didn’t frack, there would never have been an opportunity for fracking fluids to escape from containment facilities. It’s a pity Santos, who in my view appear to take their environmental responsibilities seriously, have been tarred with the brush of Eastern Star Gas, who were responsible for the contamination.

Peter Fray

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