It could be debatable whether a royal commission is necessary to achieve a “resilient legal framework” for future bushfires, however we do not want the flurry of activity to distract – or excuse – the PM and opposition leader from the most important challenge; strong, meaningful action on climate change (Letters, January 14).
Nobody seriously expects an immediate closure of Australia’s coal mines and coal-fired power stations, however real leaders should, by now, be articulating clear “transition plans” out of fossil fuels and into the renewables and other industries. Unfortunately, it seems both leaders have placed “transition” in the too-hard basket. – Rob Firth, Cremorne Point
Greg Combet has a ”novel” suggestion (”Australia needs to punch above its weight on carbon emissions”, January 14). All parties get together, respect the science and work out a path forward. PR man Morrison seems only to able to spruik the coal industry’s fossil fiction. – Rosalind Ward, Balmain
I’m wondering if Zali Steggall has a friend in the Shire who might be considering putting her hand up for a run at Cook in the next election? I think she might be in with a chance. – Robin Love, Rozelle
Tackle feral animals as we nurture natives
In the 1980s, John Williamson wrote “Goodbye Bunyip Bluegum, goodbye Blinky Bill, and beautiful little Nutsie. I can’t believe it. Our koalas are all dying, can it really be? A national disaster, a world catastrophe.” And here we are, more than 30 years later and facing this reality. It would seem we are a country that only learns things the hard way (”Koalas are barely hanging on”, January 14).
Your correspondent makes an excellent point about not wasting this bushfire disaster. Let’s double or triple the funding and staff in our national parks country-wide and use some recovery efforts for the eradication of feral animals as well as invasive exotic flora and protect the environment for our struggling native wildlife and plants. – Christine Hackwood, North Lakes
It is now on the record. Sussan Ley, the federal Environment Minister, said “everything that can be done will be done” to save koalas from extinction. The minister should urgently use her federal powers to stop logging in any koala forests on the NSW north and south coasts that remain unburnt.
And she must stem the rampant urban sprawl that is threatening the koalas around Campbelltown, Appin and Wilton. Ironically, these “city” koalas have become even more precious as our more distant forests have become wildlife crematoriums. – Sharyn Cullis, Oatley
I have just finished the saddest book, Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. It has moved me to think that our increasingly ferocious and destructive bushfires are karma for the ignorant, cruel, arrogant and greedy takeover of Australia from the original inhabitants. This attitude continues and we are ruining our ancient, fragile, beautiful country by lack of understanding how to live with it rather than imprint our own ideas on how to utilise it. We exploit rather than nurture. – Christine Perrott, Armidale
While unfortunately some died from the bushfires, the “pink mist” from the sky is likely to be the new asbestos of the future (”Retardant threat to water supplies”, January 14). – Tim Schroder, Gordon
Overseas friends texted that they are praying we get rain soon. We replied that our government has been doing only that for several years and they have proven that it’s not a successful strategy. We added that we are living in hope of a Plan B, involving consultation with a number of experts in several fields, including firefighters and climate change scientists, with a long term view towards the future of our children and grandchildren. We also asked them to keep praying, just in case there’s no Plan B. – Peta Patton, Newport
Let’s follow the lead on zero road toll
Pleasing to see Transport Minister Andrew Constance was impressed by Norwegian road safety advertisements (“Zero road deaths : Oslo shows it’s possible”, January 14).
I hope he is equally impressed by the approach of Oslo’s Mayor: “It’s all about humans taking back the streets from cars.” – Geoffrey Williamson, Woollahra
If there were lessons on road safety to be drawn from Oslo, it wouldn’t be the first time that Norwegian city had been a guiding light on health and safety. In the 1940s, I was among the many thousands of Aussie schoolchildren who were fed the Oslo Lunch. This nutritious combination of bread, cheese, tomato and fruit put roses on cheeks grown pale from wartime food rationing. – Garth Clarke, North Sydney
Norway has zero-alcohol tolerance for all drivers, not just P-plate drivers. This undoubtedly has a major positive impact on road safety. – Susanne Collins, Warners Bay
The primary reason Oslo and many western European cities have reduced their deaths and serious injury toll is that the speed limit in areas of high pedestrian activity is 30 km/h. The London CBD will be 20 mph (32 km/h) by the end of this year. In Sydney, for example, areas around the ABC and UTS, where there is huge pedestrian activity, the speed limit is 50 km/h. The sooner Australian cities embrace the 30km system, the sooner we will reach the enviable Oslo example. – Harold Scruby, CEO Pedestrian Council of Australia Limited
Harry puts family first
Why all the fuss about Harry and Meghan wanting to leave the royal firm and lead a more private life (”Harry and Meghan score a win but this drama has a long way yet to run”, smh.com.au, January 14)? The Queen and her advisers must surely have sensed something in the wind when the Sussexes named their child Archie Harrison. –Graham Russell, Clovelly
When all is said and done, Harry is still family. Blood is thicker than water. Many younger siblings of the aristocracy have faced the same issues. So long as there is family love they will weather this. Unfortunately, their status means a family issue is played out in public. They don’t have the luxury of keeping it private. – Augusta Monro, Dundas
Usually, the Queen is dressed in bright colours but she was papped this week on her way to church wearing a dowdy brown coat and hat. She must be really upset by the most recent disastrous rift in her family. – Joan Dalgleish, Ballina
2019 exposed the Prince Andrew debacle. 2020 reveals Prince Harry, quite reasonably, taking charge of his family’s more private future. Two more examples of why Australians deserve the right to elect their head of state rather than relying on birth-right of a foreign sovereign. – Russell Murphy, Bayview
While we’re at it, can we have a royal commission into the royals? – Kent Mayo, Uralla
Pipe down ex-Pope
Though pledging obedience to the Pope, Benedict can’t help interfering in the current issue of priest celibacy within the Catholic Church. What is it with past leaders unable to “remain hidden from the outside world” – we have certainly had our share (”Two Popes face off”, January 14).
I feel sorry for Pope Francis. A difficult issue made much more difficult, coming again from someone who promised loyalty and non-interference. – Elizabeth Kroon, Randwick
Good Lord. Is the “hidden Pope” suggesting that once we marry life’s mysteries will elude us? – David Reid, Artarmon
Rabbitt in the spotlight
Latrell Mitchell is evidently an intelligent young man (“He’s one happy bunny”, January 14). Having signed with Souths on Monday he is quoted as saying, “I knew if I jumped straight into that Tigers deal I probably would have regretted it”. As an old Lidcombe Oval regular, it’s a sentence I wish the Western Suburbs Magpies had been in a position to deliver back during the earliest years of the new millennium. – Andrew Stark, East Gosford
Strong stance required
There is an outrageous proposition at the heart of the Julian Assange extradition trial (“WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in UK court fighting extradition to US”, January 14). The US is arguing that an Australian can be guilty of breaking US law even when he is not in the US, and when the actions for which he is being prosecuted were entirely legal in the country he was in at the time. The Australian government should take a strong stand on this issue, or are we all subject to the excesses of US law, everywhere in the world? – George Rosier, Carlingford
Stars in smokey eyes
Last night I wandered outside and what a glorious surprise! For the first time in what seems like months some of my old friends were back (“Australia’s bushfire smoke will do a full lap of the earth: NASA“, smh.com.au, January 14). In a band of clear sky there was the Orion constellation, next to the Dog Star group, (as usual, on his back wanting his tummy scratched) which includes our brightest star Sirius. Further south was our second brightest, Canopus, all in a line! With some steady rain on the way let’s hope we see more of them, along with some positive action by our governments to prevent this horrible summer from reoccurring. – Ian Bryant, Barden Ridge
Women coping with crisis
Most of us see two women politicians, Gladys Berejiklian and Jacinda Ardern, dealing with recent crises in their respective countries, as the “ultimate humanists” (“Recovery the priority over reviews: minister“, January 14). Are women in powerful positions superior performers in crisis situations? As the world is expected to experience further catastrophic events, would it be wise to elevate more women to leadership positions? – Jill Phillips, Ettalong Beach
Quiet Australian speaks
Yes, Sue Jay, we don’t march, we don’t stand outside public buildings chanting, we don’t impede the daily grind of your average citizen (Letters, January 13). We exercise our right when and where it counts. That is why we have been labelled “The Quiet Australians”. – Beverley Izard, Sancrox
Sky-high prices not standard
In Lisbon, regardless of how many metro lines a passenger uses to get to the airport, the journey costs $2. Are the metro administrators in Lisbon silly, or are we taken for a ride in Sydney (“State collects $110m a year from fees on airport train passengers“)? – Mustafa Erem, Terrigal
A welcome word
Has the delightful word “bloviating” ever been deployed in the Herald before? If not, it’s one Americanism we should definitely welcome (”Iranian threats ring hollow”, January 14).
Bloviate means “to talk at length, especially in an inflated or empty way”. It would be so useful when describing many of the speeches and interviews of our politicians, starting with our Prime Minister. – Ian Black, Redfern
Watch your backs
Staring at a seagull may ward off an attack on one’s food but what to do when they attack from behind (”When the chips are down, stare at a seagull to save your snack’‘, January 14)? I spend considerable time at both Balmoral and Cronulla beaches indulging in fish and chips and have noticed that while our southern birds mount an attack from the front, the northern beaches birds swoop from the back. Obviously our northern Aves have learnt from history which tells us that all successful battles, such as the Battle of Cannae led by Hannibal, have been won with attacks from the rear. – Elizabeth Maher, Bangor