IF it wasn't already, I believe these fires have made it crystal clear that we have a federal government in this country which is directly and irretrievably hostile to the national interest.
We know how the Coalition has for years assiduously worked to frustrate and prevent climate change action. We've heard all their lies and seen their sneering contempt. We've watched them guffawing in the parliament as the now prime minister held up a lump of coal. Oh, how they all laughed. They don't seem to be laughing now, at least in public.
In the lead up to these fires, the prime minister set the scene by announcing plans to use the law to try to silence climate change protests. He then sent his energy minister to Madrid to half-truths about Australian action and refused to even mention climate change as the fires spread before quietly slipping out of the country to Hawaii in the midst of the crisis. He then came back only when he sensed the political damage was becoming unsustainable.
In my opinion, he then insulted Australians with a patronising and insincere mea culpa before embarking on a hastily-arranged tour of fire affected areas to play the sorrowful father to the nation and said resourcing for firefighters was not an issue because they "want to be there". He then delivered a New Year's message full of platitudes about the "Aussie spirit" but devoid of any plan or intention to defend and protect the country.
Through it all, the message woven into everything this marketing prime minister has said about these fires is that they are not extraordinary, not unprecedented. Why? Because if he acknowledged that they are, he would need to concede that global heating is part of the cause of this unprecedented situation and that would increase pressure for Australia to do something about it. It would mean developing a credible climate policy instead of just pretending we have one.
In my opinion, that is something he and his denialist government will never do. It's not just because they are in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and protected by the Murdoch media, but also - in fact, mainly - because they will never concede anything to the "green left", which they seem to pathologically despise above all else.
I believe we therefore need to realise that our own government has become a sinister and implacable threat every bit as dangerous as climate change itself. It is the enemy within. Lacking any constitutional mechanism to remove such a threat, we must keep its betrayal firmly fixed in our minds and take that image, and our cold anger into the ballot box with us at the next election.
Michael Hinchey, New Lambton
AN EXTRA PRECAUTION
MY beautiful but troubled son died recently from an accidental overdose of an opiate, leaving my family and me bereft.
What makes it even harder to deal with is that his death may have been prevented if it were more widely known that Naloxone or Narcan is available to non-medical people in both pre-filled injection form and nasal spray with a prescription or over the counter.
I only became aware of this when I found a prescription among his possessions. He had overdosed previously and I had picked him up from two hospitals and, while staff knew that I was aware of his opiate use, nobody told me that Narcan was available. In my opinion the hospitals should consider it a duty to inform families of this treatment.
When I found him unresponsive on the floor the next time, I had to anxiously wait for an ambulance to come as I couldn't move him to ensure he was breathing deeply enough. I believe Narcan would have helped.
Please print this, as it makes his death even more painful knowing that it could have been prevented. If more opiate users and their families were aware of the availability of Narcan, I think many deaths could be avoided.
Dianne McDonald, Cardiff South
A MUCH CRUISIER OPTION
EVACUATING 4000 stranded people on the coast at Mallacoota, a navy ship was sent which was reportedly to take about four days. Surely there are cruise ships around Australian waters that could be seconded to evacuate these poor buggers. Some of these cruise ships take up to 5000 people and they have 20 tenders to transport the majority of these stranded humans in possibly one trip.
Come on, use some of your influence and get it done, especially that a state of emergency has been declared for the next seven days. There wouldn't be anything worse than exposing these already traumatised people to more horrendous conditions a second time. Of course, the cruise ship should have been available either from Sydney or Melbourne ports. I'm sure the tourists would understand if they were asked to disembark for this rescue mission, and I imagine ship owners would also be empathetic towards this mission and give the passengers a return trip for their understanding and assistance.
We don't need a Dunkirk scenario, nor should we put people at risk by using smaller boats to try and traverse waterways at nighttime.
Graeme Kime, Cameron Park
FAITH IS FINE BUT NO HELP
ALAN Kendall (Letters, 2/1) quotes Bible verses to explain why we are in the midst of droughts and fires. It's the wrath of his God and the inference is that humans have strayed from god's path. The uniquely incredible difference between humans and other sentient beings on the planet is our ability to imagine things that don't exist and invent things like nations, human rights, money systems, limited liability companies and gods. However, these fictions need shared human belief to exist.
Mr Kendall, if we want to save the planet we need to rely on facts not fiction. Our problems cannot be solved by turning to primitive superstitions, but by using the collective scientific knowledge acquired over millennia. Scientific laws are immutable and have the answers we need, but those with the power to do something with those facts are ignoring them.
John Arnold, Anna Bay
PM NO JACK OF ALL TRADES
THERE appears the misconception as to the duties of a prime minister, whether he be true to his job description or a jack of all trades in settling all and any thing that may arise at any time of the year.
I would have thought that being the CEO of Australia's largest enterprise, his job would be to allocate various duties to paid professionals while still being in contact and control. I can't recall any other CEO that doesn't take time off while leaving their professional advisers to make decisions in their absence. Why is a Prime Minister any different?
In a previous letter I said he is no Houdini, but according to some that is his job description. Maybe I should have included the words miracle worker.
Carl Stevenson, Dora Creek
DOCTOR Jon Konchanski ("Jon's good medicine ends with new year", Newcastle Herald 1/1), who spent 48 years as a CBD GP in Watt Street, said "we've had too much disruption. It's just not the town it was." Everyone expects some things to change and some change could be called progress but his final comment said it all. "Frankly, the town's f--ked". Indeed.
Keith Parsons, Newcastle
JEREMY Bath's frustration with not being able to access the earthquake relief funds is understandable. But I believe councils overuse of the term "commercial in confidence", i.e full disclosure of costs of super cars on residents of Newcastle and full disclosure of the mystifying move from a house you own to one you rent would give some understanding of why council needs this money. Without these events there was possibly enough funds to do Shepherds Hill Cottage without relying on someone else.
Terry O'Donoghue, Merewether
AT least one good thing has come from the furore over New Year's Eve fireworks; with over 250,000 people signing an online petition against the celebrations, we now have a publicly available list of killjoys who should never be invited to parties.
Scott Hillard, New Lambton
NEWCASTLE and Sydney let the fireworks go ahead in what I think was an insidious conclusion to 2019. I was so ashamed when hearing from overseas people asking how we could be having fireworks at this terrible time. Newcastle, you speak of running your own race but you have massively failed. Sydney, you may have made a larger impact on the world stage in not making celebration with fireworks the thing to do at this time. I know celebration is great and necessary but let's please think of everyone instead of just us, funding or the world stage.
Jane Musgrave, Adamstown Heights
ANTONY Bennett (Letters, 3/1), if you think this great country is so bad then I have a suggestion for you. There is a place in Sydney called an airport; make your way there and board the next flight and leave. Happy New Year.
Matt Ophir, Charlestown
STEVE Fernie (Letters, 2/1) you don't have to get a life, your life is enriched with the most powerful gift a person could give: an opinion. I am over the moon that you have read my letters. I may not be an intellectual giant like Mr Hill, however it's healthy to vent one's spleen. I've minced a few in my time and the finished product resembles that of the modern day Labor party. Happy New Year.
Steve Barnett, Fingal Bay
INDONESIA needn't worry about the bad flooding there; the Australian government will look after them.
John Bonnyman, Fern Bay
PURISTS everywhere will applaud Jim Richardson (Short Takes, 3/1) for pointing out that the current decade is not over until 2020 is completed. Purists will also delight in adding that it all began at A.D. 1, and not 1 A.D. as Mr Richardson asserted.