flood storm damage climate change insurance hail
Damage from the 2017 Murwillumbah floods (Image: AAP/Tracey Nearmy)

Crikey readers took their time over the weekend to consider the predicaments of disaster-prone northern Australia, where insurance infrastructure is struggling to keep up with an increasingly severe climate. As readers pointed out, it’s not the only region that’s going to feel the coming storm. Meanwhile, readers tucked into the government’s response to Extinction Rebellion protests, and discussed the legacy of Penny Wong.

On insuring the apocalypse

John Bushell writes: I distinctly remember that in 2005/2006 Lloyds of London, MunichRE and SwissRE all stated that continued warming of the planet would render an increasing number of assets uninsurable in future. The February 2019 “global warming of 1.5 degree” paper by the International Panel on Climate Change demonstrates that mankind will need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by some 7% per annum each year for the next 30 years to have any chance of retaining a habitable climate. This is a challenging goal considering that these emissions rose 1.7% globally in 2018. By continuing to insure fossil fuel assets the operation of which put many of their other insured assets at risk of damage or destruction and eventual diminution of the insurance market itself the insurance and reinsurance industry has managed to cleverly devise a self-destructive business model. I would call this an “own goal”.

Richard Shortt writes: Ah, more welfare payments that are not welfare payments, where will it end? George Christensen cannot have a free market economy and then try and bend the market because it does not suit him. The market, via insurance companies, sets the price, George. It’s based on their very well-honed calculations of risk. It’s a message to you and your constituents, you all should really listen.

Ken Dally writes: George Christensen and his climate change denying colleagues, along with the coal and gas mining sector, should be paying for subsidies to insurance in northern Australia. You broke it, you fix it. It’s the most equitable way.

On the government’s Extinction Rebellion crackdown

Philip W. Barton writes: The clear implication of anti-terror laws is now evident. Their main purpose is easily subverted for use against legitimate, non-violent protest against government action threatening our climate future. That has led to direct government permission for police violence and a huge lowering of trust in government.

Janet Nixon writes: Australia is on a forced march to a detention centre. In our digitised world total surveillance of any individual’s activities and preferences is already close to fruition. The tools to make use of this are already in the hands of the minister for Home Affairs. Conveniently ignoring that, far from being a crime, public protest is fundamental to democracy, Dutton speaks of fining protesters $40,000 and sending them to jail.

On Penny Wong

Paul Tucker writes: Penny Wong is difficult not to admire. She’s intelligent and determined enough to have been successful in a number of fields. She could certainly have been wealthier pursuing some corporate legal gig. But she appears to genuinely want to make a difference whilst not being overwhelmed by her own ambition. I’m glad she’s sticking around.

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Peter Fray

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