Don’t dismiss nuclear yet — we’ll need renewables for a while

Roger Clifton writes: If we are to completely replace all fossil fuels, we have no choice but to include nuclear energy (“The right’s nuclear stupidity is enough to make us cough up Phlegm Orville”). All serious plans to maximise renewable energy always include the caveat “plus a little bit of gas”, or words to that effect. But that doesn’t refer to a constant little trickle that can be hush-hushed away; some of the time, the entire centralised network of gas-fired generators will be thundering away full blast. We can only — and must — replace that gas with nuclear.

The main objection to installing a series of nuclear power stations is the cost of the first one. It is the subsequent series of run-of-the-mill power plants that will average out the costs. They will be cost-effective, if only because the entire decarbonising world is focused now and will converge on making serial production cost-effective.

John England writes: Forget about the cost and the nuclear waste issue. By the time one is ready for Australia in 2040-plus we won’t need it as renewables will be covering nearly all the load.

As the power stuff-ups and price rises continue, most people will scrap the grid and run independent solar and battery systems either as a community or as individuals.

Rounds of the kitchen

James Christie writes: Annabel Crabb’s talent is getting politicians to drop their guard (“In defence of Kitchen Cabinet, where humanising is the point”). She succeeded hands down with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton. He voluntarily showed us why he is completely unsuited to be prime minister, while at the same time showing us that he is actually a human not a cipher.

Eva Cox writes: Do we want political leaders who have as little ability to judge people fairly? I thought Crabb showed Dutton as lacking leadership skills and judgment. Attacking him would not have shown the weaknesses that reinforce his limited leadership capacities.

Jennifer Manson writes: Watching Crabb with Dutton was fascinating. Not only did she confront him directly with some of his atrocious behaviours (although she didn’t frame the question that way, instead just asking about his thinking and rationale), but she constantly interfered and almost took over his cooking. I was impressed that he stayed calm as I thought her actions were intrusive and rude, but perhaps she could see he wasn’t doing well with the cooking, something less obvious to me. 

I would have been very annoyed at her presumptuous interference, but he was very tolerant of her actions and questions, something essential if he was to participate in this program at all — which was perhaps not that wise. It did show him as human in all his narrow, rigid, black-and-white thinking, not someone I see as capable of being able to improve the future of our country given his negative and divisive views of people he really knows little about. It confirmed much of what was already known from his actions in all of his roles.

What’s to hate?

Michael Hayward writes: Re “What is Australia’s most hated company? A Crikey form guide”, surely the Catholic Church must get a guernsey?

Jiordi Read writes: Crikey has done an excellent job of giving readers a comprehensive guide to Australia’s most hated companies/industries, but at the mention of the Melbourne Cup as a segue I was reminded of another industry that has gone practically unscathed since it was in the spotlight in 2017: greyhound racing.

The live baiting scandal exposed by Four Corners showing small animals being used as lures in the dogs’ training was a real eye-opener for a lot of Australians. After the program aired, there was strong condemnation from the public and animal rights groups.

It was a massive scandal that had national repercussions, but what really grinds my gears was that NSW launched an inquiry and it found there was great malpractice and cruelty at play by the greyhound trainers, which saw it eventually get banned in 2017. But then-premier Mike Baird decided to overturn the decision a mere three months after it had passed, saying he would help clean up the industry instead of outright banning it.

It felt like such a step back in progress in an industry that seems to thrive on the exploitation and cruelty of animals (we’re one of only seven countries where greyhound racing is still legal).

Voice recognition

Peter Barry writes: The referendum can still be won, but it would be a desultory, minimalist win that will leave the nation divided for years (“The Yes campaign must abandon its ‘make history’ shtick or risk being on the wrong side of it”). The whole process has been drawn out and cloaked with portentous righteous sensibility instead of appealing to the ever-simmering “give it a bloody go” attitude of Aussies.

The compulsory and sometimes protracted Welcome to Country is becoming formulaic and tedious for many, like having to stand up in theatres for “God Save the Queen” was in the ’50s and ’60s. We do not need to be breathlessly reminded several times a day that the Aboriginal culture is the oldest living culture going back 65,000 years. We all get it.

Aboriginal lore does not always have a simple solution to complex modern problems, but First Nations’ input should always be welcome and respectfully considered. Whether the Voice has a powerful impact in Closing the Gap in a sustainable way is yet to be determined. What should have been joyous has become grating and annoying, but a Yes vote is still the only sensible choice at this point. 

Dr Christine Velde writes: The Yes vote, if achieved, will result in a divisive Australia, and one I am not sure I want to continue to live in. If one wishes to vote No, for example, as former prime minister Tony Abbott or current Opposition Leader Peter Dutton recommend, one is viewed as “racist” and apparently also non-urban, aged and uneducated. I hold several academic qualifications, including two PhDs.

I will be voting No. Many people I have spoken to in my daily life will also vote a resounding No. Simply because it is unfair that 3% of our population should have consistent access to government, while the rest of Australia does not.

Object lessons

Ilario Maiolo writes: Re “Welcome to the whitelash: how an aggrieved refusal to learn is driving the No campaign”: more than 60 years ago, my high school geography and history books about Indigenous Australian people offered one paragraph. As a first-generation Australian born to Mediterranean migrant parents and growing up in a small regional town with many others of similar backgrounds, I realised very early the prejudices that existed within the community and with some classmates.

The most obvious came from the middle-class, white, colonialism-descendant British stock. My most vivid experience of this was standing next to my mother as an eight-year-old during her “nationalisation” ceremony. If looks could kill, the cold glare and disdainful attitude from the pompous, very English master of ceremonies left me traumatised for life.

It shaped my life attitude towards “authoritative” figures, government departments, local councils and politicians — absolutely no trust.

My cynicism grew with maturity and I am grateful that my early learning experiences honed my skills to recognise self-serving, narcissistic political figures and corporate elitists who will stop at nothing in pursuit of power and profit — at the expense of our world and the ordinary people.

What grieves me most about the authentic No campaigners is their laziness to get themselves informed. It is all out there, including the official pamphlet. The pretentious No voters — including the leader of the opposition — won’t give any ground but haven’t come up with alternative solutions — not surprising given how they have been such laggards for the past 10 years in power.

The coming of age

Richard Creswick writes: I fall into the demographic which should be concerning itself with this issue (“What does aged care look like for younger generations retiring deep in debt?”) — being close to 80, married, still pretty healthy and a homeowner with a modest super/part pension income. My wife and I are asset-rich but cash-poor. It is our fervent hope that we are carried out of our own home in a box, avoiding the aged care tragedies that befell a couple of our parents. However, should that fate befall us I hope like hell the institution is not operated as a privately run profit-making exercise, but by a caring not-for-profit group adequately subsidised and scrupulously regulated by an adequately resourced oversighting body.

It is a disgrace that aged care services have been considered as welfare and demonised by uncaring governments intent on making sure mates can make money out of the process. The shocking tales which emerged during the pandemic shone a light on the way the sector had been exploited by unscrupulous actors, government and private, and allowed to become a hollowed-out husk of inadequate care.

Undoubtedly many of us boomers have had it good. We should all be able to spend our declining years in dignity but never more so than if we are unfortunate enough to be institutionalised.

Sandra Bradley writes: As a long-time researcher in this area, I have been an advocate of increasing taxation for funding aged care but in a way different from most. Ageing in our society is an extremely complex proposition. It involves housing, health, family relationships, taxation, inheritance, religion, medical messaging and, ultimately, choosing how long to live (although most people keep on living as the default). My proposal was to have every person over the age of 80 self-fund all health and aged care from that point onward. This means that people actually have to think about how long they want to live and be prepared to support their healthcare after the age of 80.

Why do I feel this way? Because as a previous medical research scientist, none of our discoveries were meant to prolong the lives of frail, elderly people and yet that is what they are doing. Because Australia does not discriminate on healthcare treatment based on age, as some countries do, many people are, by default, listening to their healthcare professionals and accepting treatment that not only prolongs their lives but also diminishes their quality of life.

People think they will be in a nursing home at the end of their life — almost a fait accompli. Where did that idea come from? It means that they aren’t willing to move in with family or have assistance from family when they need it most — earlier rather than later.

We need an aged care tax and we need to provide financial planning for the next generations that provides all of the options they need to consider.

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