Ministerial moan will not help to save our reef

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Ministerial moan will not help to save our reef

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

The Australian government’s whingeing at UNESCO’s declaration that the Great Barrier Reef is in danger will not help fix the problem (“Outrage at UN’s Barrier Reef warning a sideshow to climate catastrophe”, June 23).
If Australia wants a healthy reef, if we want any coral reefs to survive the next few decades, we cannot continue to be an international laggard in reducing our carbon emissions. Angela Michaelis, Balmain

Yet again scientific fact is being subverted by claims that the decision to place the Great Barrier Reef on the endangered list is a political act (“Federal push-back on UN’s move to list reef as in danger”, June 23). The facts of endangerment, with 50 per cent of the reef dead, are bald and compelling, no matter whether you are an Australian or from China. To characterise the callout as political is a contemptible mistruth which should be rejected by all Australians. Sid French, Waverton

The deterioration of the reef over the past decades has extremely serious implications. At present the average warming of the world is 1.1 degrees Celsius and already frequent exposure to excessively warm water causes extensive bleaching of corals. If all goes well at the November COP26 in Glasgow, the responsible nations of the world will all commit to zero net emissions by 2050, which will hopefully restrict Earth’s temperature rise to less than two degrees. However, the inevitable future warming above the present 1.1 degrees will cause increasingly serious destruction to the reef. Geoff Harding, Chatswood

In successive elections, the people of Australia have voted for continued and expanding exploitation of Australia’s fossil fuel resources and against effective action on climate change. Scientists tell us that the reef is unlikely to survive a 1.5-degree rise in global temperatures, and our government cannot even commit to action to prevent a rise to that level. Of course, the reef is critically endangered, and Australia has repeatedly voted for coal, not the reef or our other critically endangered environmental treasures. Peter Gibson, Wentworthville

What planet has Sussan Ley been living on to think that she has been blindsided by UN commentary on the Great Barrier Reef? She has been the invisible Environment Minister, totally missing in inaction on the Murray-Darling water debacle earlier, not offering any input on the climate degradation issue. Seppo Ranki, Glenhaven

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Now that the federal Environment Minister has gone through the first two stages of grief for the reef — denial and anger — can she quickly institute positive action, not platitudes, to reduce global warming so we don’t have to go through the bargaining, depression and acceptance of learning to live without our Great Barrier Reef. Over to you. Helen Lewin, Tumbi Umbi

Yet again statements made by the federal government are disputed by the original source, this time about heritage listing of the reef. This constant stream of misinformation is bad for democracy. Graeme Finn, Summer Hill

UNESCO and Sussan Ley can debate all they like about the state of the reef. In the not-too-distant future, social media and TripAdvisor will have the final say. Half a star — don’t bother. Nicholas Bertsos, Bellingen

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Value of good teachers not reflected in pay packets

The situation would change in an instant if teachers were appropriately compensated relative to other professions (“Schools struggle to find teachers as supply collapses”, June 23). Minister Sarah Mitchell knows full well that the only “barrier to entry” is the deplorable pay rate offered to teachers. Overcoming “barriers to entry” is her double-speak for lowering qualifications and the quality of public education. It always amazes me how neo-liberals preach the power of the market but ignore supply and demand when it suits their budget ideology. Peter Hull, Hat Head

To properly educate a child a teacher needs the time and resources to meet the child’s needs but our education ministers, both state and federal, seem to be unaware or choose to ignore these facts. Teachers are the education launching pad and are far more important than a university lecturer who is only there to finish off the 12 or 13 years of hard work a teacher has put in. Teachers are not respected or rewarded for their efforts. Frank Adshead, Mona Vale

There’s a simple answer to this problem: reintroduce teacher training scholarships for all levels of schooling. This is how plentiful and brilliant teaching staff were recruited to the profession in the ’50s and ’60s. In addition to fees, a living-away-from-home allowance was paid if the family income was below a certain level. The graduate was bonded to the Education Department for a number of years (or had to pay out the bond) and as a result the profession was improved all round, in numbers and quality. Robyn Weinberg, Bellevue Hill

The issues raised regarding shortage of teachers are not new. When I started teaching in 1975 it was the first year that there were too many new teachers. Previously, teachers were coming to NSW from USA on two-year contracts to meet the needs. The removal of the transfer system has added to the difficulty in staffing remote area schools. As a young teacher on a bond to work “anywhere in the state for five years”, knowing you could apply for a transfer made the experience less daunting. The lack of respect for the teaching profession and low wages for a degree also make the profession less attractive to young graduates. It’s not going to be an easy fix. Anne Szczurowski, Lambton

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the actual worth of all jobs and their contribution to society, and adjust salaries accordingly. Who is really more valuable: a senior classroom teacher shaping generations of children’s lives, or a backbench MP in a safe seat? A childcare worker struggling on a subsistence wage, or a financial planner drawing 10 times the salary? An ambulance driver or a real estate agent? Joanna Mendelssohn, Dulwich Hill

Vaccine delay compounds pain

Russel Howcroft questions the government’s vaccination advertising campaign (“‘She’ll be right’ just not good enough for vaccinations”, June 23). He sets out how an appropriate advertising campaign could have been developed in stages – advice surely available to the government.

Which begs the question as to why the government’s advertising has been so insipid and as described by Howcroft as “earnest” and “unlikely to do anything”? It now seem very evident that we were never at the “head of the queue”, and that supply was never going to be available to meet the government’s optimistic projections of vaccination rates.

The government’s lack of transparency on vaccination, supported by Howcroft’s analysis of the advertising campaign, is a national disgrace. Ross Butler, Rodd Point

According to the latest figures, about 23,000 people per day are being vaccinated nationwide each week (“Australia flying blind without more vaccine data”, June 23). At this very slow rate, Australia won’t reach herd immunity till March 2023. Unless the rate rapidly increases, people in all states and territories can all expect lockdowns, border closures, restrictions, business closures, sudden changes of plan and a general feeling of alarm, restriction and fear-filled apprehension for the next 21 months. Do we want that? Get vaccinated. Darryl Emmerson, South Ballarat (Vic)

Masking the problem

The exemption to the current requirement to wear a mask at all indoor venues unless eating or drinking is a farse (“What are NSW’s new COVID-19 restrictions?”, smh.com.au, June 23). Patrons can spend hours over a lunch and so far as many food and drink outlets are concerned, that’s okay and no mask is required. I was informed by one such outlet today that even though hours may be involved “they are eating and drinking all the time”. When I challenged the accuracy of that statement, I was told the rules were only introduced anyhow “by stupid politicians”. Brian Roach, Westleigh

On a recent flight to the Sunshine Coast on a full plane we found we were sitting next to a man without a mask and when asked to put one on by the cabin crew member he said he had an exemption but was not asked to provide proof (“Quarantine-free travel from NSW to New Zealand paused for 72 hours”, smh.com.au, June 23). We refused to take our seats and after being asked to wait we were told the man would be moved to business. As we walked back to our seats we passed him looking totally chuffed. Surely exemptions need to be sighted and stamped on the boarding pass and we should also be required to have a COVID test 48 hours before boarding. Liz Mather, Mosman

The ownership of the current outbreak in Sydney lies squarely with the state and federal governments for not mandating the full vaccination of anyone associated with quarantine. The driver of flight crew who was the source of this outbreak should have been vaccinated as a requirement of the job. They still won’t mandate this, yet they mandate the wearing of masks and all the restrictions we now have to cope with. You can’t drive a car without wearing a seat belt, can’t ride a bike without a helmet; if these things can be mandated, why not vaccination for anyone associated with quarantine? No jab, no job in quarantine. Geoff Ross, Bayview

Cracking QR codes

Good luck with your QR blitz, Premier (“Shops set for QR blitz as mystery child case puzzles contact tracers”, June 23). Out in a large shopping centre in Chatswood yesterday, I was the only shopper I saw in three stores using the QR codes and there was no QR code available at David Jones. Unless staff check that QR Codes are being used and it’s mandatory for all retailers to come on board, tracing is only ever going to be hit and miss. Elisabeth Goodsall, Wahroonga

Coal comfort

Labor and the Greens have delivered a shock defeat to the federal government with a Senate vote to strike down plans to invest taxpayer funds in new fossil fuel technologies, taking advantage of the surprise absence of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to win the outcome (“Labor, Greens veto coal move in shock Senate blow to Morrison”, June 23). What a relief.

Can you imagine how much better off our country would be if the Coalition supported and encouraged real innovation in renewable technology? Instead they persist with destructive and time wasting sham initiatives aimed at pleasing a very small minority of Australians who just happen to live in critical election seats. Michael Slocum, Ascot Vale (Vic)

My latte was so much more enjoyable this morning. Thank you, Pauline. Tim Hand, Balmain

Why stop at farmers (“Nationals plan to pay farmers to cut emissions in deal on net zero”, June 23)? Coal and gas miners will also need compensation. Those cutting emissions through the purchase of EVs and the generation of rooftop solar might also be eligible. Whatever their motives, the Nationals might finally force their Coalition partners to draft an exit plan for carbon. Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

Crossing the line

This is outrageous (“School asked boys to rate girls in class”, June 23). The principal must resign. He is in charge, he is responsible and he cannot hide behind ignorance. This is an Anglican school so it is not as if some unconnected religious group drops in to deliver scripture classes. John Ure, Mount Hutton

“The girls instead were given articles on the importance of virginity and how Satan provides opportunities for fleeting sexual encounters”. And this is called an education. Susan Newman, Mona Vale

Sales call

I have found the perfect solution for finding staff in DJs (Letters, June 23). I stand at the payment counter of a department, ring the store on my mobile and ask to be put through to that department. When the phone rings on the desk and a previously unseen staff member appears to answer it I end my call and present my purchases. Works every time. Sue Scott, Hornsby

Use power for good

Barnaby Joyce is acting PM (Letters, June 23). He has said many times the Biloela family should be released from detention and allowed to return home. All he needs to do is pick up the phone. Surprise us all with an act of compassion — show some leadership. Ray Armstrong, Tweed Heads South

Chris Uhlmann seems to think Joyce deserves a second chance after his time in the wilderness (“Second chance Barnaby back on top”, June 23). This would be more enticing if his climate policies weren’t likely to put us all there permanently. Colin Stokes, Camperdown

Barnaby’s supporters hope he will be a louder voice for regional Australia. Living in regional NSW, I am concerned he will be relying on volume rather than reason. Michael Kruger-Davis, Gillenbah

Time off no crime

Honestly, the mean-spiritedness of writers astounds me (Letters, June 23). In the midst of a series of day-and-night meetings with world leaders, a few hours off for a personal trip by the PM results in seething outrage back home. Get over it. Ross MacPherson, Seaforth

I have no problem with the PM digging around Cornwall’s graveyards. My only fear is he may discover we could be related. Michele Thomas, Mollymook Beach

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
Labor, Greens veto coal move in shock Senate blow to Morrison government
From Twocents: ″⁣Thanks to all for voting this down and preventing a watering down of the purpose of the fund.″⁣

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