LETTERS

Green tape cuts

Green tape cuts

disappointing

REPORTS of the Gillard government's likely acquiescence to business calls to "slash green tape" make depressingly familiar reading.

In 2008 the federal government commissioned an independent review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by Professor Allan Hawke. Following extensive public consultation, in 2009 Professor Hawke delivered a report that recommended a new Australian Environment Act, which would strengthen environmental protection and prioritise ecological sustainability. After two years of inaction, the government's response in 2011 was to reject all Hawke's recommendations for stronger environmental protection and qualify its support for other recommendations.

This anaemic response contrasts shamefully with Labor's willingness to appease the latest calls by big business, and is the same sort of retreat from scientifically informed and evidence-based reviews of environmental policy that we saw in relation to the Garnaut Climate Change Review and the Murray-Darling Basin Basis Plan.

Paul Norton, Highgate Hill, Queensland

Appalled veteran

THE high cost our service personnel are paying for our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was highlighted by ABC's 7.30 on Wednesday. The high rate of mental trauma that those who served in these misadventures are now suffering is a glaring example of our service personnel being sent into harm's way when it is questionable as to whether it was in our national interest.

At a time when these service personnel need all the help they can get, the government is cutting Department of Veterans' Affairs numbers. As a Vietnam veteran I find it appalling that the government is now cutting the personnel needed to look after these damaged service personnel.

D.J.Fraser, Mudgeeraba, Queensland

Virtuous business

TOM Fanning (Letters, 12/4) suggests that bankers and miners won't get into heaven. The big four banks are owned by their shareholders who expect a decent return on their investment. The miners listed on the stock exchange do likewise. These companies have legal obligations to their owners. Given that I have superannuation, it is almost guaranteed that I have an interest in most of the banks and probably some of the big miners as well.

I have seen enough losses in my superannuation and want it to grow to provide for my future. Banks and miners that are listed do not just put the money under the mattress and keep it for their children.

I think there needs to be a distinction between a family dispute where people want to extend the date of vesting of a trust to avoid paying tens or hundreds of millions in tax, and a company that fulfils its obligations under the corporate laws of this country.

Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills

Jumping tragedy

DURING the Easter weekend, two Victorian horses, Art Success and Virvacity, were killed as the result of injuries sustained in jumps races at the Oakbank carnival. Both horses were 10-year-olds: Art Success fractured his pelvis, while Virvacity broke his shoulder.

Art Success won the Brisbane Cup in 2006 and ran in the Melbourne Cup that year. He won $680,000 in flat racing before being sent over jumps four years later to earn more money.

Four steeplechases have been conducted so far during the 2012 jumps season, and these two animals have joined Jotilla (killed at Sandown on March 28) as fatalities. More deaths must follow soon. They always do.

John Capel, Black Rock

Gospel lessons

I WONDER what Mr Costello expected to hear when he went to church at Easter? Did he go? (Comment, 11/4). Did he expect praise for the merchant authorities in their grabbing too much for themselves (Mark 11:15ff), or perhaps grudging acceptance of those with the power extracting and exporting the profits, but washing their hands and blaming others (Mark 15:6ff)? No, he would have got the way these groups ganged up on the criticiser and put him down (sorry ,"up" on a cross). Perhaps he might have thought again as he listened to the Archbishop's sermon. Good going Dr Freier!

Rev Dr Alan Reid, Balwyn

A must read

ARCHBISHOP Philip Freier's comments ("Fair distribution of wealth will enrich Australian society", The Age, 12/4) are a must read for our political leaders and people at the high end of town. The disparity between the rich and the poor in Australia and in other Western democracies has been increasing at an alarming rate in recent decades. In Australia, mining companies and banks are making enormous profits, unprecedented in Australia's history, while there is insufficient money for the government to spend on badly needed infrastructure projects for hospitals, schools, old age care and the like. The Occupy Melbourne movement was a reflection of what the 99 per cent think about the 1 per cent.

Bill Mathew, Parkville

Church vs state

IF, AS Professor Bouma argues, the religious implications of public policy have been submerged since the 1960s, it is no longer the case (Comment, 12/4). The decriminalisation of abortion, prostitution and drugs, gay marriage and school funding, including those teaching creationism, are all policies hostage to the conservative religious adherents who determine electoral outcomes in swinging seats on the urban fringe. The wake-up call was surely when then treasurer Peter Costello joined a Hill Song congregation of 20,000 in 2005, with 20 fellow members of Parliament. That year, the then minister for health, Tony Abbott, refused to honour the decision of Parliament to authorise the morning-after pill, RU486.

Many watch with apprehension as we risk following American politics down the path of religious fundamentalism. This may explain the willingness of those who want a secular state to stand up and be counted.

Angela Munro, Carlton North

Free speech at stake

I WRITE regarding your report "Bolt link to racist reviews of book" (12/4). When I linked to the discussion on the Amazon site of Anita Heiss' Am I Black Enough for You?, not one comment I saw then was "openly racist".

Even now, it's hard to find any that are, and not one was cited in your article. Most are instead about the very point I had made: that Heiss' book asks a question now incapable of being debated openly in Australia, making the US-based Amazon site a reminder of our own loss of free speech.

Your report is a flip dismissal of something that should be treated with respect, given that without free speech we are nothing.

Finally, I note your journalist contacted Heiss for comment, but not me. How low.

Andrew Bolt, Southbank

Not so rainy Blighty

IT IS disappointing to see so many myths perpetuated in your article about the drought in England. To refer to "notoriously rainy" England is itself wildly inaccurate. The west side of England is wet and the east side very dry. Most of East Anglia is technically a "semi-arid zone" with a large part of it receiving less annual average rainfall than Jerusalem. London's average rainfall is much the same as Melbourne's.

The fact is that we have suffered from two exceptionally dry years in the south-east of the country, which has made the problem of supply acute. We may water plants and wash our cars using a bucket or watering can filled from a tap. The fountains have been turned off here just as they were in Melbourne during the drought.

Where the ideas about our wet climate and our drizzle emerge from I have no idea, but they need to be corrected.

Robert Nelson, London

Not a fair contest

COULD everyone stop referring to the AFL "draw"? It is anything but a draw. A draw implies some randomness. Maybe an even playing field. The draw is a prosecution of the AFL's agenda.

If and when we get back to a system where each team has an even chance over a given time frame, where we stop giving financial advantage to the existing powerhouses (e.g. two Carlton-Collingwood blockbusters each and every year), then we can go back to calling it a draw.

Until then let's just call it The AFL Agenda.

David Hoyle, Essendon

Not a problem?

RE YESTERDAY's front-page report "Longer lives put paid to pensions". Does this statement apply to retired politicians? If things were managed as well as Peter Costello says they are, there should not be a problem!

Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North

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