Letters to the editor | February 15

Join the dots on energy

Last week, Australia's Treasurer took a lump of coal into Parliament as some kind of visual aid to justify his party’s promotion of fossil fuels as the best way forward to solve our energy problems. Last week we also saw temperatures in Penrith of over 47 degrees Celsius. For those old enough to remember, that’s 117 Fahrenheit! Here in Goulburn it reached 44 C (111 F), according to the temperature gauge in my car.

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison with a lump of coal he took into Parliament as prop for debate on fossil fuels and energy sources. Photo: Andrew Meares

Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison with a lump of coal he took into Parliament as prop for debate on fossil fuels and energy sources. Photo: Andrew Meares

In the Post (3/2), anti wind campaigner Michael Crawford called for an inquiry in to the cause of the Tarago fires. He suspects the local wind farm (no surprises there) despite the Rural Fire Service NSW finding that bird strike was a likely cause. Meanwhile, all mainstream media reported the threat of energy blackouts and the cost of electricity as temperatures rose to record levels and everyone boosted their air conditioners.

Yet nowhere are the dots being joined. Burning more coal so we can switch on more air conditioners, blaming renewables for everything from storm damage to fires to electricity hikes expresses the scenario of inaction we are seeing in Australia. We are already in a wicked cycle that will see temperatures continue to rise and extreme weather overwhelm our electricity grid. Life in Goulburn’s "rural idyll" will be unbearable for significant days in the year, not just for the community but all those animals and plants that have no air con to take shelter. 

Community groups like The Goulburn Group have been walking the talk of sustainability and clean energy transition for 10 years. The community can do some things, but not the big policy and regulatory transitions that are the realm of our elected representatives. When a senior Minister walks in to Parliament with a lump of coal and behind him the Coalition front bench smirks, my blood runs cold. Is this really what leadership looks like in 21st century Australia? For our children’s sake, this needs to change. 

Mhairi Fraser, president, The Goulburn Group

Concern is not imagined

From the sub zero temperatures of New York where I currently am I logged in to read my hometown's newspaper, I find the council has finally woken up to the fact that people are concerned about concentrated poison near a residential area. I knew when this facility was proposed metres from houses that community concern was inevitable. That was why I attempted to move an amendment asking for a report at the company's expense from the Department of Health about methyl bromide, which no other councillor supported.

The people of Goulburn deserve better than an unscientific, inexpert assessment of a facility that may be dangerous to health. I said it to their faces at the time and I say it again: the councillors were irresponsible to approve this facility without further investigation. As for the general manager, to stand up in a meeting and declare that people are imagining a smell and that their concerns are psychosomatic: that says everything about his approach to community. 

The onus is now on this council to prove that they have not allowed a facility in our town that is affecting the health of all of us.

Robin Saville, Goulburn via New York

Shun insults and hatred

I am disappointed to hear remarks made at the Q Society's fundraiser dinners in Sydney and Melbourne. Our world is passing through a turbulent time. It is important for all of us to shun those actions and statements that can cause unrest and hatred to spread in our peaceful society. We should work to unite people on common grounds rather divide them for political causes. 

Freedom of speech is a noble value if exercised within the framework of decency, honesty and respect. When speech is driven by insults, it reinforces stereotypes and prejudices, which is something we neither want nor can afford in our pluralistic society. Every person has a right to an opinion; however … insulting others can never be productive; neither can it maintain peace.

Usman Mahmood, South Bowenfels