As an informed climate change activist, I have been contributing to talkback radio and writing letters to The Age, the HeraldSun, and the Australian Financial Review for some years. A selection of the letters are attached. To avoid confusion with contributors of the same name, I usually sign as ‘William Chandler’ or ‘Bill of Surrey Hills’.
Selection of media letters 2019, 2015 – 2018
Why does the fossil fuel industry need billions of dollars in subsidies?
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 27/3/2015
Confusion is costly
Why does the fossil fuel industry need billions in subsidies? In its international campaign to slow down action to reduce greenhouse emissions, the government seems very confused. It slashes overseas aid, but then assists the coal industry to export coal to poor countries, which will result in climate change, thus requiring more overseas aid. It says there is a budget crisis, but then subsidises international companies to continue to unnecessarily pollute our environment in a manner similar to that used in socialist economies.
Now the government repeats the cynical “direct action” mantra and ignores the pleas for effective action on climate change by local farmers who are on the front line of its effects: increased temperatures, droughts and wild weather. Beyond the environmental concerns, ideological horse-trading with misleading statistics about the RET is costing our economy heaps. We cannot afford this confusion.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 5/4/2015
Libs’ confusing signals
What a confused message this government is sending. It is willing to support the views of a secret religion about vaccination, but then tries to bully the small group of parents who choose not to have their children vaccinated. This is inconsistent with the government’s usual messages based on “freedom of the individual” and “economic benefits”.
If the “no jab, no pay” policy is based on health or economic grounds, then the government should withhold Medicare payments, for example, from people who are obese or smoke or drink too much until they changed their behaviour. Such savings would go a long way to clearing the ballooning budget deficit. So what is the policy based on?
William Chandler, Surrey Hills 15/4/2015 The Age
Swayed by leadership
We take good governance for granted – that is, until we lose trust in the politicians who have a constitutional, legal and moral responsibility to represent the citizens who elect them. Politicians are now so intent on wedging their opposition for personal and party gain that they ignore their primary responsibility.
The Pope’s encyclical, highlighting the concerns of many people, is enlightened and courageous. I am not a Catholic, so am not obliged to take notice of this teaching. However, it is having a powerful effect on me because it demonstrates a degree of responsible leadership that our politicians aren’t showing. Will our so-called leaders, Catholic and non-Catholic, take his message seriously enough to change their self-interested perspectives? For God’s sake, Australia deserves better.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 23/6/201
Australia’s international reputation continues to be diminished by the radical change of direction at CSIRO. But all is not lost. The next CEO, picking up the Prime Minister’s innovation theme and support for science, could attract money from foreign governments, not just from businesses that capitalise on the important research done by CSIRO. There are some excellent precedents of co-operation: Pine Gap and military bases with the US; the port of Darwin and large farms with the Chinese. Surely, climate change action is at least as important as defence and agriculture.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 5/6/2016 (2 in a day)
Paucity of leadership
Far from wealthy, my parents were optimistic for their children’s future. Surviving two world wars and global depression, they were part of a community that opened our eyes and our borders to a rich mix of cultures and opportunities. From the 1960s to the 1990s we built on that optimism. Now I am saddened by increasing awareness that my country is falling behind in many areas. We might enjoy the good life, but how do we explain our ongoing practice of child abuse; our Pollyanna approach to climate change; our increasing levels of homelessness; our vindictive approach to genuine refugees; and fear-driven legislation that undermines the very freedoms we boast about?
There is a paucity of real leadership needed to govern in a complex 21st century. Mr Turnbull’s inability to transcend petty party politics in snubbing ex-PM Rudd will sadly not be the last example of just how far we have slipped from what being “Australian” was all about.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 2/8/2016
Victorian senator Bridget McKenzie says hundreds of thousands of gun owners will feel let down by the reclassification of the Adler shotgun (an efficient killing machine), adding: “There’s no evidence to suggest that this is a rational decision based in evidence, in common sense.” It sounds very similar to my feelings about the government’s flip-flopping approach to climate change action, energy transition and our economy.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 13/12/2016
Some say we have entered the “post-truth” era. Simplistic slogans are always seductive, but complacently accepting that slogan is extremely dangerous.
For Australians to give away an expectation that their leaders will tell the truth is frightening, not naive. The federal government willingly spins “the facts” as it jumps from one foot to another on climate change action: breaking the promise to not subsidise the Adani coal mine. Yet the same government claims virtue in not breaking an Abbott cabinet promise to hold a referendum on same-gender marriage. Oh, the hypocrisy.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 18/12/2016
We must achieve affordable housing for all
Michael Short’s piece about the attack on homeless people in Flinders Street – “Blaming and punishing the very people in need of help” (Comment, 2/2) – is strong and passionate. It is also an insightful comment on the complexity of homelessness and the knee-jerk reaction to keep our city “tidy”.
We need informed leadership by the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, and the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews to address the underlying issues. An aggressive and forceful removal of this small group of needy people will simply push “the problem” elsewhere – and generate resentment from those who have homes and those who are homeless. Melbourne – the “‘world’s most liveable city” – has a lot to learn from other cities around the world which are more effectively addressing the community issue of achieving affordable housing for all.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 3/2/2017
A very sad day
When much of what our MPs say could be classified as comedy, the passing of satirist John Clarke is sad news indeed. His respectful but cutting insights into the antics of our so-called leaders rang true. His untimely end, and his years of partnership with Bryan Dawe, leave a gaping hole that even the entirety of the Melbourne Comedy Festival cannot hope to fill. Thank you, John, good night and RIP.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 11/4/2017
Who needs a comedy festival when we can listen to our politicians? Did you hear the one about taxpayers giving $1 billion to a rich Indian company based in the Cayman Islands to build a white elephant rail line? But it is no laughing matter. While crying crocodile tears about the budget deficit, the government squanders our taxes on a fool’s errand that will threaten our energy security, increase our energy cost and destroy our environment. The evidence from smart business and scientists is that a rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables will provide effective energy management, better economics and a sustainable environment.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills The Age 16/4/2017
Remembering the forgotten, it’s simple
What would Bob do? Any reading of his legacy explains why his progressive approach to many issues led to him become Australia’s longest serving prime minister. Most current politicians are overshadowed by the intellect of Menzies. The current member for Kooyong, Josh Frydenberg, seems to have forgotten what made Menzies both popular and effective. Menzies’ “forgotten people” speech has frequently been quoted. The voters of Kooyong have become the latter-day forgotten people. .
Stare down the fossil fools
The AFR editorial (“SA’s power fix, sort of”, June 11) is right to point out that there are no quick fixes to Australia’s energy and environment challenges, but the South Australian batteries are a game changing step in the right direction.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, belatedly, made it clear that his government is progressive and pragmatic in the tradition of Robert Menzies, Liberal Party hero and Australia’s longest serving prime minister. There is hope that he, and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, may now see the light about the economic wisdom of a rapid transition to renewables. This will require a progressive and pragmatic approach that stares down the head-in the-sand fossil fools approach of his so-called conservative colleagues, who are costing Australia dearly through the current trifecta: high electricity prices, market uncertainty, and increasing pollution.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills, Vic Financial Review 11/7/2017
Coalition dithers on CET
The AFR editorial “Power deal moves in right direction” (July 17) praises progress made by COAG in endorsing most of the Finkel recommendations, but highlights the fact that the federal government needs to adopt its centrepiece and anchor, the Clean Energy Target. Notwithstanding Minister Josh Frydenberg’s protestations about his need for more time, it is clear that divisions in the Coalition are likely to prevent an adequate response at any time.
The Minister frequently states the importance of achieving what he calls ‘the trilemma’: maintaining electricity security; achieving lower cost energy; and reducing emissions to meet the Paris commitments. The editorial goes on to endorse the need for renewables to provide storage capacity to deal with intermittency but fails to recognise an equivalent failure: fossil fuels to deal with the substantial health and pollution costs.
Unfortunately, the editorial also adopts a backward ideology: supply-side market economics for gas has led to high prices, and it is likely that more gas production will go the same way. In the meantime, Finkel, AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman, and business investors make it very clear that a rapid transition to renewables will provide the most secure and lowest cost energy, with the least emissions
William Chandler, Surrey Hills, Vic Financial Review on-line 18/7/2017.
I strongly support a national approach to energy management and the environment, not least because of the unconscionable increase in my electricity and gas bills. State boundaries are a historical anomaly in a modern era.
However, in light of a federal government that continues to fail to take effective action on energy prices and the environment, I am grateful that states are taking the lead. The Coalition might moan about the state action, but I can’t wait for the federal head-in-the-coal ideological approach to catch up to the accelerating worldwide transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills, Vic Australian Financial Review on-line 28/8/2017
Turnbull ideologically blind on renewables
Some on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s side of politics have claimed that he is too much like traditional Labor. Indeed, in 2009, Tony Abbott narrowly defeated him for the leadership of the party over his then common-sense approach to climate change and energy.
The AFR editorial (September 13) bemoans how he and Minister Josh Frydenberg are attempting to bully AGL on maintaining an economically unviable coal-fuelled power station. Perhaps those 2009 critics were right. Ideologically blind to the positive economics of the rapid transition to renewable energy, the PM and Frydenberg are prepared to throw the private sector under a bus, kowtow to the agrarian socialists posing as the National Party, and reject the critical Clean Energy Target called for by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, the man they appointed to undertake an independent review. Deliberately misinterpreting the recent AEMO report completes the quadrella. Clearly the traditional definition of adversarial two party politics has been turned on its head, and the disincentive to invest caused by energy policy indecision continues.
William Chandler, Surrey Hills, Vic Australian Financial Review on line 14/9/2017