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Child detention

Congratulations to Sue Gilbey for winning the International Bremen Peace Award and working to end Australia's shameful treatment of asylum seekers. (Suffering in the 'lucky country', GLW #822).

My country, Scotland, also treats asylum seekers shamefully. Back in October a bunch of seven friends launched a UK citizens' campaign, End Child Detention Now, fighting for an immediate end to the pointless and punitive policy of detaining children and their parents in conditions proven to damage their health and sanity.

Inspired by Australian campaigners, we have initiated parliamentary motions and prompted questions in Holyrood and Westminster and raised more than 3600 signatures in an online petition.

In December, representatives of Britain's doctors and nurses condemned the Government's detention policy and urgently called for it to end.

More than 100 leading writers and illustrators, including Andrea Levy, Quentin Blake, Nick Hornby, Jacqueline Wilson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Kamila Shamsie, Ian Rankin, Carol Ann Duffy, Philip Pullman, Julia Donaldson and Beverley Naidoo, supported the doctors' protest.

We ask all Australians who have UK friends and family to urge them to sign our petition .

And please urge UK doctors to sign the doctors' petition.

Clare Sambrook,
Co-ordinator, End Child Detention Now, England

Climate change I
Just as we get the advice of top medical specialists in the face of life-threatening disease, so we should seriously consider the advice of top climate scientists and climate economists in the face of the worsening climate emergency.
Joseph Stiglitz (2001 Economics Nobel Laureate) has slammed the carbon trading/emissions trading scheme (ETS) approach as empirically unsuccessful, and advocates revenue-neutral carbon taxes and also carbon tariffs to speed effective action on man-made global warming.
Professor Stiglitz: "The 'minimally' fair allocation to the developing countries requires equal emission rights per capita … Perhaps it is time to try another approach: a commitment by each country to raise the price of emissions (whether through a carbon tax or emissions caps) to an agreed level, say, $80 per ton.
"Countries could use the revenues as an alternative to other taxes — it makes much more sense to tax bad things than good things."
In relation to key, expert-advocated climate change policies of (1) No ETS; (2) direct action on renewables and similar measures ASAP; and (3) carbon taxes (carbon cost recovery), the Australian Greens score 3/3, the Coalition scores 2/3, and the anti-science, pro-coal Labor Government scores 0/3.
Dr Gideon Polya,
300.org Convenor, Vic [Abridged.]

Climate change II

I am tired of hearing the fallacious argument that "Australia is too small to make a difference to the world's greenhouse gasses". The people who make this argument never mention that the average Australian is responsible for five times as much greenhouse emissions as the average global citizen.

A little thought will show how ridiculous the "Australia is too small" argument is. China has overtaken the USA as the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gasses.

China is made up of 23 provinces; if every one was to declare itself an independent nation then each would be responsible for much less pollution than is China as a whole. Would it follow that suddenly they would have a greatly diminished responsibility to cut their greenhouse gas production?
Of course not.

If I was the biggest individual greenhouse gas producer in Australia I could claim that I am only responsible for a tiny percentage of the world's greenhouse gasses, therefore I shouldn't feel any obligation to change my ways. Ridiculous!

Are those who peddle this falsehood stupid enough to believe that it is valid? Or do they use it only in the belief that it will fool many of the ignorant plebs?

David Clarke,
Clare, South Australia

Education about republics needed

The unhelpful debate (British) Monarchy versus Australian Minimalist Republic flares up again when a young Royal visits the antipodes.

With minimalism no longer an option how well prepared are Australians to engage in a far ranging constitutional debate? Isn't that the real issue?

The primary case for Australia is very clear: a constitutional Republic with a directly elected, symbolic President, now favoured by over 80% of citizens.
Considering more comprehensive constitutional change Australians should be looking at modern republics to see how they operate, e.g. Ireland, Finland, Portugal, France, Austria, Iceland, Indonesia and Poland (direct election); and Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, Malta, Czech Republic, South Africa and Hungary (Indirect election).

Could the Rudd Government, as an essential part of the education revolution, commence producing and circulating materials enlightening the public about the options? Australia needs to be much better prepared for the next plebiscite or referendum than it was in 1999.

Klaas Woldring,
Convenor, Republic Now!

Sever link with climate change denier

The recent televised debate between climate change denier,
Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University, and journalist George Monbiot again cast great doubt onto the credibility of Professor Plimer; if any more was needed following the scathing critical review of Plimer's book, Heaven and Earth.

I wonder about the link between Adelaide University and Plimer? While AU employs Plimer, at the one time it is giving credence to his ramblings and the same ramblings are discrediting AU. Is it time the link was severed for the good of the University and truth?

David Clarke,
by email