Drought here to stay but action can ease the pain

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Drought is defined by the Bureau of Meteorology as “acute water shortage” (“”, November 4). It is certainly not going away, and in all likelihood will become more prevalent. Politicians from all sides are realising that a modified Bradfield scheme (diverting monsoonal waters west of the dividing range in Cape York) is the only way to restore the Murray and Australia’s agriculture. Barnaby Joyce and Pauline Hanson are advocating it. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to talk to Scott Morrison about it, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian could get in on the action by donating one of her four tunnel boring machines, perhaps named after Kathleen Butler, who played a vital role in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as the technical advisor to legendary engineer John JC Bradfield. The Prime Minister could deflect criticism regarding his lack of infrastructure planning by jumping on board and pronouncing, “How good is this?” Technically, there is no doubt that it can be done and it would have a bonus of reducing sediment and fertiliser being dumped on the Great Barrier Reef. - Steve Johnson, Elizabeth Beach

One of the most significant causes of drought continues to be ignored by journalists and governments. Trees bring rain. Clearing large tracts of native vegetation and clear-felling forests and riparian zones leaves one legacy – drought. The crises in Australia caused by drought need critically urgent solutions. Forests must now be urgently protected and land clearing prohibited. The catastrophic loss of biodiversity and clear-felling of our forests by the government-led juggernaut of ecosystem destruction will ensure this ancient continent becomes a desert. Major revegetation programs need to be carried out. The message that trees bring rain needs to be hammered home to all governments. We can no longer afford ignorant politicians. - Sue Arnold, Ocean Shores

How good was that rain? Yet the drought will go on and immediate and greater measures need to be taken. Acknowledgments of change and positive directives from above may help! (From the PM, I mean.) - Janice Creenaune, Austinmer

The PM's time is running out. The media has enabled most Australian voters to glimpse the environmental destruction and economic pain of areas devastated by drought. The politicians "pain for gain" policies, of refusing to outlaw coal and of ignoring climate scientists, are already causing many Australians wide-spread pain, even in mining communities where water has run out or is rationed. Unless he quickly cuts the fuse and seeks support and advice from the alternate energy industry, the PM risks losing all. - Joy Cooksey, Harrington

Ban the growing of cotton in NSW. Although the cotton industry is not to blame for the current drought, it has certainly aggravated it. Either buy the growers out or offer them the option of planting industrial hemp (which has no use as a recreational drug). Hemp requires only modest amounts of water, is frost tolerant, and grows in all countries. It requires no pesticides, no herbicides and only moderate amounts of fertiliser. It produces food, cloth, paper, bio-fuel and composite board. - George Vassallo, Chatswood West

Good aged care should be properly, publicly funded

Ross Gittins is again on the money ("", November 4), as that is what it is about, in pointing out the washing of hands from responsibility in aged care. Apparently no member of the Liberal base will ever need such care, or use the NDIS or Newstart etc, as clearly any spending there is wasteful and a Labor trick. But maybe, if the last election is a guide, the voters think we get these things at no cost? Meanwhile the mantra of "small government" goes on, and clearly small government does not stop those in Canberra from creating laws to stifle protests, allow religious discrimination to trump other forms of discrimination and to limit the role of unions. - Tony Sullivan, Adamstown Heights

My wife has been in care for three years and I am delighted with the level of care and commitment shown by all staff at her facility. At the weekend things seemed a little more hectic than usual and my enquiry as to why led to the following response: “Why would people work here with the physical and mental stress involved when they can earn better money at Woolies?” I’ve looked at the relevant award and ask the same question. Caring for the aged and infirm is a profession, not just a job.
I hope the Royal Commission into Aged Care has something to say about peanuts and monkeys. - David Stibbard, Singleton

Bravo, Mr Gittins! In a few short paragraphs, you have exposed the dissonance between what the public wants and needs, and what our conservative politicians are determined to give them. In survey after survey, people prioritise more funding for public services, yet the people who are elected to do so, don't. They seem to prefer making their few wealthy benefactors even wealthier. It must stop. - Kristina Vingis, Church Point

Amid all the woe and horror stories of the aged care situation, we need to remind ourselves that there are good, decent people caring for the elderly. Sure, some shouldn’t be in the industry and certainly need to go, and others are severely under-educated on the multifaceted needs of aged people, especially those with dementia. With the focus on the bad eggs, the others who give their all, but are unable to adequately cope with the workload, are suffering and are traumatised by the current situation brought about in no small way by huge underfunding in the sector. They need our support. - Judy Finch, Cedar Party

Surely "aged care" is a poor title. From stories regularly published, the care part is unfortunately missing. Urgent government intervention is needed, not long inquiries where recommendations are rarely implemented. - Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

Cameras need big-picture ideas

The proposal that warning signs for mobile and fixed speed cameras be removed should be resisted vigorously as it is based on faulty concepts ("", smh.com.au, November 4).

The Auditor General’s report and recommendation cited a definition of “speeding” supplied by the NSW Centre for Road Safety, very little of which actually involves exceeding the speed limit, the only thing that cameras can detect.

The 46 per cent fatality rate by that definition is ridiculously high when compared with professional forensic assessments by the UK police of 13 per cent of fatalities involving exceeding the speed limit, and some 5 per cent where the speed is the primary cause.

States which rely on covert cameras for road safety have had big increases in fatality rates because it is the wrong tool. We will not improve road safety until crash causes are forensically examined (as in the UK) and full results are published so that both public and politicians are not misled by emotional pressure. - Michael Lane, St Ives

The NSW Premier flatly refuses pill testing despite the recommendation of the State Coroner. The NSW Premier considers recommendation to remove speed camera warning signs. Both may save lives, but only one creates revenue. - Michael Beattie, Seven Hills

Got those berry blues

Those of us who live beside and adjacent to the numerous blueberry farms which blight our landscape are not amused ("", November 4). Clear-felling of hundreds of acres of trees, run-off from pesticides and fertilisers and the influx of out-of-town pickers have turned us, who live west of Coffs Harbour, off blueberries. When the bottom falls out of the blueberry market due to over-abundance, we may get our peaceful farmland back. - Christine Tiley, Nana Glen

Getting great value

As long as that war chest shirt-fronted Abbott, many of us were happy to pay ("", November 4). Go, Zali. - Margaret Hogge, North Curl Curl

Steps beyond running

Your correspondent asks "What happened to running rugby?" (, November 4). South Africa have traditionally played a game based on forward control and a kicking five-eighth. England were coming off a win over New Zealand - a win which was always going to be hard to top in the final.

So this was never going to be a game of running rugby. The Boks played their game with control, dominating the scrum and the line-out and keeping England tryless; the two Springbok tries in the final 15 minutes reflected the dominance South Africa achieved. The spirit of Madiba was there as well. - Tony Everett, Wareemba

Another mail in the coffin

What's the chance that the upcoming review into Australia Post will recommend privatisation, leading to the loss of its subsidised mail service and many retail outlets, which will particularly affect residents in regional areas ("", November 4)? - James Deli, Oatley

Lessons of Barty's rise

Rugby Australia’s enquiry should include a long look at the factors and influences in Ashleigh Barty’s career ("", smh.com.au, November 4).

Barty’s career started with a humble suburban tennis coach with a keen eye for talent, recognising her potential at their first meeting. There were selfless parents who saw that one of their God-given roles as a parent was to discipline their child and prepare her for life. There were siblings who put aside some of their own goals to support and nurture the rare ability of their sister.

Barty has had great support from a local community, Tennis Australia and encouragement from her fellow Australians from the time she was junior Wimbledon champion at 15 years of age. - Nan Howard, Camden

Ash Bart was magnificent as she won the last, possibly most prestigious, event in this year's tennis calendar in China. She was resilient, dogged and inspired, and seems to add another layer of brilliance each time she steps out. Could our petulant male "stars" please look and learn. - Rosemary O'Brien, Ashfield

I guess if Joe Hockey were still Treasurer, his advice to poor young people would be to take up tennis. - Don Firth, Wooli

Fight freedom creep

Never in the political history of this nation has a leader ever so assiduously and deviously sought to divide its people in an attempt to shape their democracy into an image of his own dogma and destroy its moral fabric in the process (“Nor should government in one of the world’s most secretive democracies be beyond scrutiny”: “”, , November 4). - Bert Candy, Glenvale (Qld)

I have archived that stunningly arresting front page of the Herald of October 21 about the right to know. It will show how close we once came to the secrecy and masking of truth we associate with totalitarian regimes we purport to abhor. As Tony Walker rightly and urgently argues, press freedom needs somehow to be enshrined in law. If we deafeningly quiet Australians value our freedom as we have known it until recently, we must fight the Morrison government’s creeping and creepy secretiveness before we have to think twice about writing letters like this to the press. - Ron Sinclair, Bathurst

Some people are saying that Scott Morrison's government is becoming authoritarian and populist (, November 4). Strange, I have always thought that this was the very nature of all conservative governments. - Paul Duncan, Leura

Well said, Nola Tucker. Although I'm not "old" (only 79) and not a granny (although a human granny to four wee dogs), I'll be joining you at the front of the protest and manning the barricades along with young Jane Fowler. My 89- and 84-year-old friends will be with us. I'll bring the Thermos if you bring the sandwiches. I'm sure my anti-Vietnam protest banners are still in the loft! See you there. - - Margaret-Anne Hayes, Turramurra

Hold the fries

The closing down of MacDonald's in Iceland felt like "the collective failure of a nation". ("", November 4). Maccas pulled out of Newtown 21 years ago. KFC lasted a bit longer. I looked on it as people power. - Genevieve Milton, Newtown

Revisionist history

It's something of a stretch to describe Britain's self-serving and exploitative colonial occupations of North America, Palestine and India as "engagements with other nations" (, November 4). The "disastrous" exits your correspondent mentions would never have happened without equally disastrous (for the inhabitants) prior invasions. It is ironic that Britain seems unable to get to grips with a relationship requiring genuinely cooperative engagement, such as EU membership, and that yet another relic of its colonial past (its long regrettable involvement in Ireland) has come back to haunt Britain by presenting the major complication in Brexit. - Steve Cornelius, Brookvale

Yes, the British would score a consistent fail for most of their exit strategies since the eighteenth century, but they did do a good job in difficult circumstances when they last had to pull out of Europe, at Dunkirk in 1940. - Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

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