Shocking report shows now is the time to act

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State of Environment
The latest State of the Environment report is shocking and screams for urgent restorative action (“Wildlife extinction risk grows in climate crisis”, The Age, 19/7). The devastation of our environment, including extinctions, has been caused mainly by land clearing and climate change extremes of heat, drought and wildfires as well as the introduction of invasive species.
Reforms are critical, in particular recommendations of the Samuel review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, along with the establishment of an independent Environmental Protection Agency, and a National Water Commission. We cannot wait years, our minister for environment must act now.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

A planet lacking signs of intelligent life
When will the curtain of lies and prevarication finally lift? When will we look clearly at the devastation we have wrought on the environment and take the immediate drastic action necessary? Future generations will weep and curse us our greed and utter stupidity. Aliens looking at us via their equivalent of our James Webb telescope would see a unique phenomenon: a planet of breathtaking complexity and beauty seemingly spontaneously combust over a period of 100 years. They will sigh with disappointment and turn the telescope towards other planets to seek evidence of intelligent life.
Peter Barry, Marysville

Material pursuits a distraction
Humans are living in a nightmare of self-delusion. If we continue to be driven to accumulate enough wealth to enable choice of every available good, service or experience, and to accumulate additional wealth to protect this freedom of choice, the Earth will continue to be plundered. We have a chance if we move our main motivations in life to discovering who we are. To have curiosity and self-awareness about our values, interests, hidden talents. These motivations need far less stuff. First Nations peoples would be terrific guides to these new goals.
Howard Tankey, Box Hill North

Habitat loss a widespread failure
The dismal State of the Environment report shows that governments of all levels need to stop paying lip-service to ecological decline and actually act. It’s their lax laws and enforcement that allowed 7 million hectares of bushland to be bulldozed between 2001 and 2017, and millions more since then, driving species towards extinction.
Warwick Sprawson, Brunswick West

Regenerate forests
Australia’s endangered species are losing their habitat to agriculture or industry. Professor John Woinarski warns this is “a very pivotal time for the natural world and the legacy we leave for our descendants. If we don’t take action now, it will crumble rapidly before our eyes.” The most frightening aspect of this report is that the destruction appears to be gathering pace. What are we thinking? A good start would be to replace VicForests with an environmental agency charged with the regeneration of our natural reserves. We need to stop logging our forests.
Jane Garvey, Camberwell

Learn to share
The most positive aspect of the State of the Environment report is the number of Indigenous authors that have contributed, telling their cultural stories on what is required to tackle our poor environmental practices. To reverse Australia’s biodiversity destruction, we need to invest in managing “country”, using Indigenous philosophy based on sharing resources.
Leon Zembekis, Reservoir

Population pressures
Clearly, if urban sprawl and road construction are major causes of habitat destruction and extinctions we need to stop bringing more people into this country.
Jan Kendall, Mount Martha

THE FORUM

Strange decision
Surely, Daniel Andrews could have appointed Lizzie Blandthorn to a portfolio other than planning and avoided the obvious difficulties and waste of time of public servants in trying to manage the potential “conflict-of-interest headache” (“Huge housing project off limits for new minister”, The Age, 19/7). A lack of planning on his part?
Heather Barker, Albert Park

Perception of conflict
I can’t understand why there hasn’t been more uproar about the state government’s appointment of Lizzie Blandthorn as planning minister despite her brother working as a lobbyist for large construction firms. It doesn’t matter how honest Blandthorn may be, it will be impossible to remove the perception of conflict of interest. If it requires so much extra work to come up with “ways to manage the relationship” between Blandthorn and her brother’s clients, why not appoint someone else to the role? If lobbyists didn’t have influence on government decisions and if it wasn’t such a lucrative career for them, there wouldn’t be so many ex-politicians and ex-staffers in the lobbying industry.
Combined with weak lobbying rules in Victoria that seem designed to obscure rather than reveal it undermines trust in planning decisions made.
Suzette Miller, Ashburton

Steamroller planning
As a resident of Dingley for over 35 years I am appalled at the persistence of AustralianSuper in trying to steamroller its application through the planning procedures in the face of such extensive resistance by the residents and various council/government departments (“Enormous housing project on new minister’s ‘can’t touch’ list”, The Age, 19/7). It is generally acknowledged that AustralianSuper purchased the golf course without proper consultation, and without establishing that the rezoning required to allow the development to proceed would be granted.
The resultant loss of valuable open space, and the strain on local schools, medical and dental service providers, roads network and public transport services are in themselves reason enough to prevent the construction of the proposed homes.
Roger Bideleux, Dingley Village

And the battle continues
I cannot believe that our dispute with AustralianSuper is still going on. Council has three times rejected its different proposals. Thousands of residents have sent in objections to any development on the golf course. They have already destroyed so many trees on this property that it has greatly affected our wildlife. If I were to kill a native bird I could face criminal charges.
If AustralianSuper gets away with this blatant disregard to residents and council decisions, where will it stop? How many other suburbs will be walked over in this way?
Barby Alston, Dingley Village

Failure of leadership
Lisa Visentin’s report “We don’t trust in governments: Morrison” (The Age, 19/7) exposes the hypocrisy of a man who was the prime minister of this country. Scott Morrison made this country a laughing stock of Asia and allowed the economy to deteriorate. Now he says not to trust in government. His speech at the Pentecostal Church in Perth gives sufficient evidence why he was a failure as the PM of this country.
Bill Mathew, Parkville

Wrong man for the job
In a Pentecostal church sermon ex-prime minister Morrison says he still believes in miracles, trusts only in the Lord not in governments and believes that anxiety (like “… all of this feeling about bills that are pouring in”) is Satan’s plan. If you experienced a certain uneasiness when Morrison was prime minister, then you now have an explanation. His heart and brain were elsewhere. His extra-terrestrial focus was clearly a distraction from his earthly role as the political leader of Australia and its people.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Considering others
Your correspondent, (Letters, 18/7), asks why people get worried about others not wearing masks. Because people who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons, people who are not vaccinated for medical reasons, as well as babies and toddlers, appreciate being considered.
Bruce Watson, Clifton Springs

Pitch in, mask up
Yes, I often wear a mask, but it is only a mask – not a hazmat suit. Is it too much to ask that people use their newfound “personal responsibility” to do a little public good by masking to slow the spread? Under present circumstances, it’s just the right thing to do.
Ian Powell, Elsternwick

Benefits of salvaging
I viewed with concern the comments of Professor David Lindenmayer (“We are fuelling state’s bushfire risk”, The Age, 16/7) regarding timber harvesting and bushfires within Victoria. Making recommendations to combat bushfire severity and intensity is complex, contextual and contingent on forest type. Therefore, to make a blanket statement that logged forests always burn at greater severity than intact forests is just plain wrong and to conflate the clearing of trees after storms and timber harvesting is misleading at best. All three major inquiries into the 2019-20 bushfires – the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, the NSW inquiry and the Victorian inquiry – made no reference or recommendations regarding timber harvesting and fire risk.
The use of the Wombat State Forest, a dry eucalypt forest, as an example is also misleading. The question in the Wombat State Forest comes down to is it better to leave a large proportion of the fallen trees in the forest or salvage it for use as fibre products or firewood?

Lindenmayer himself in 2009 made the point that strategic forms of timber thinning in dry forests can reduce fire severity and this must entail removal of the timber from the forest site or risk unplanned ignition. In dry eucalyptus forest, more fuel load means more intense and severe bushfires more often.

Lindenmayer’s opinion reinforces prejudices towards forestry organisations and governments in ecosystem management. I fear his views could be used, on supposed environmental grounds, to justify cessation of salvage operations. This would in turn create greater fuel loads and the likelihood of bushfires due to climate change by leaving the salvage job half done.
Daniel J. McDiarmid, Hepburn Springs

Energy security
If Daniel Andrews cared about Victorians being able to keep warm or keep the lights on he would lift the moratorium on gas exploration onshore and support our remaining coal power plants to keep running.
Helen Leach, Bendigo

Close the border
As an ex-Australian quarantine veterinarian of more than 30 years’ experience, banning flights to and from Bali is a no-brainer (“Indonesian border to remain open”, The Age, 19/7). Foot and mouth disease is right on our doorstep and we can’t afford to let it in. And for the government’s information, foot and mouth is not a disease that necessarily kills infected livestock. It kills economies.
Henry Woolley, East Keilor

Holding on for clunkers
These old trains (“V/Line runs clunkers on long trips”, The Age, 19/7) should not be in use at all. They don’t announce to passengers until they’ve left Southern Cross that “there are not toilets in every carriage”, and you have to wait until the train stops at the next country stop to find a carriage with a toilet (you have about 30 seconds), as you are not allowed to walk from carriage to carriage while the train is moving. No one even tells you which carriages have toilets. Last time I was on this type of train a young mother with a toddler walked through to our carriage on the little metal platform between carriages while the train was doing 100 km/h.
Carol Evans, Elwood

Flirting with danger
As regular tram users, we are intrigued why car drivers don’t seem to understand that when the tram stops, they must as well. On too many occasions cars race past the tram while it’s stationary and just prior to opening its doors to let unsuspecting passengers alight. It’s time Yarra Trams and the Victorian government mandated that trams be fitted with cameras, with hefty fines for those who think they are more important than passengers.
Nathan Feld, Glen Iris

Young talent
No sooner than Ash Barty had hung up her racquet, than Cam Smith comes along. These young Australians are such powerful symbols of the value of playing competitive sport, and with a very positive attitude. Winners certainly, but just as gracious in defeat. Hats off to the families and supporters that raised these wonderful young and talented sportspeople.
Richard Strugnell, Kew

Tour duties
Our new golfing idol Cameron Smith, when asked if he would join the Saudi Arabian government-funded circuit more or less said “I play golf, the team around me organise where and when”, absolving himself of responsibility. He should reflect on the fact that the Saudi government does not promote a female tour. Indeed, females are banned from playing golf, indeed any sport held in a public arena. Cameron might be a good innocent Aussie bloke with his mullet and his liking of beer. But this does not mean he is immune from morality and ethics.
John Rome, Mount Lawley, WA

Who’s fooling who?
Simon Birmingham, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, on the ABC on Monday night said the challenge for the government is “to not have the Greens as the tail wagging the dog in the relationship between the Greens and the Labor Party”. I assume he wants us all to forget the National Party tail flaying the Liberal Party dog when “negotiating” the Coalition policy on emissions targets. Our memories are not that short.
Alan Gamble, Boronia

And another thing

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Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison shouldn’t confuse people’s lack of trust in his former government with their lack of trust in all governments.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh

At least Scott and the Lord share some common ground – they both work in mysterious ways.
Mary-Lou Poulson, Ashburton

Morrison believes governments are untrustworthy. Perhaps that is why he challenged Malcolm Turnbull, knowing he would be better at it.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Morrison, your recent sermon in Perth is four years too late. If you had preached it at your local church in Sydney four years ago, we would have all been the wiser.
Roger Christiansz, Wheelers Hill

So failed prime minister Morrison doesn’t trust in governments. A nice thing to say for someone who was happy to accept the wage. Perhaps he’d be willing to return his pension.
Carmel Boyle, Alfredton

I couldn’t agree with Morrison more. I certainly never trusted his government.
Ian Greenshields, Melbourne

Scott Morrison’s “oil of God” sounds more like snake oil to me.
Bill Pell, Emerald

Unlike the member for Cook, I don’t believe in miracles; but I do believe in karma.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Oh God, what a lot of damage is being done to your “brand” by Morrison and Margaret Court.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn

Furthermore
Is now the time to remove 5¢ coins from our monetary system? New Zealand did in 2006.
Graeme Walters, Mount Waverley

The US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia suggests that money will trump morality every time.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn

Building costs go through the roof. Why are we floored? The young see the chance of a home of one’s own go out the window. And their savings go up the chimney!
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

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