So, some jobs are more important than others

So, some jobs are more important than others

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Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

This should be treated with suspicion

So Coles imagines it could be “checkout free” in 10 years as “an increasing focus on costs make the traditional purchasing experience redundant”. My concern is that this will guarantee that the attendant traditional Australian employment experience will also be redundant.

While I am not against new technologies, those that are introduced purely to reduce major retailers costs and further diminish actual service, and local employment opportunities, should be treated with suspicion.

Julian Guy, Mount Eliza

It’s already frustrating enough

Interesting to see that Coles imagines it could be checkout free in 10 years despite 50 per cent of its customers not using the self-serve systems in place now.

It is frustrating enough having to frequently ask for assistance at the “self serve” checkouts now, due to items not scanning correctly.

If like Amazon’s “Go” stores, Coles is going to charge the customer’s account after they leave the store, I predict further problems for customers.

More time taken by the customer in checking that they have been charged correctly and a possible return to the store if not?

Wilma Hills, Echuca

Another win for data harvesting

Your article about Coles caught my attention, with big businesses trying to reduce employment and gather more personal data. I think that’s what it was about, couched in the usual platitudes like “seamless shopping”. No chatting at the checkout any more, it’s completely de-personalised. But I might save two minutes of my precious time.

Not sure who will buy from them if they keep pursuing their rigorous de-employment policies. We will all struggle with having multiple small items on our bank statements from buying coffee each day and the banks are doing really well by taking a cut of every card purchase we make.

John Pinniger, Fairfield

What about the rest of us?

Customers will just walk out without going through a checkout, according to a leading Coles executive.

Yes, those customers without a smartphone, a smart watch or an implanted microchip linked to a bank account will walk out. Where will they go? That’s the question.

Wendy Brennan, Bendigo


Imagine it’s your bathtub

During the past few weeks, contributors to The Age Letters have suggested a variety of strategies to deal with the ongoing bushfire crisis.

The situation is analogous to finding your bathtub overflowing with water, which has covered the bathroom floor. What you can do is (1) use towels to mop up the excess water – equivalent to extinguishing fires, protecting property and helping those affected, including wildlife; (2) remove the bath plug – equivalent to taking steps to reduce the risks and consequences of future fires, for example, by establishing taskforces to deal with fire emergencies, undertaking appropriate back-burning, etc, and (3) turn off the taps.

The last is the most important step, because it addresses the cause, which in this case is climate change.

Dealing with this issue will not only reduce bushfire risks, it will simultaneously protect ocean life and prevent the inundation of low-lying islands and shorelines, while slowing down the rate of mass extinctions and other catastrophes. Although all three steps are necessary, we should prioritise the third as a matter of urgency.

Roy Robins-Browne, Templestowe

Don’t forget air travel

As many sporting organisations, global sporting personalities, celebrity musicians and business people generously donate large sums of money to the bushfire appeal, I hope we all can take a moment to consider one of the apparently intractable contributors to global warming – the aviation industry .

Whole plane-loads of sports teams, racing cars, musicians and their equipment, fans and staff travel the world constantly. Private jets fly stars to their events.

Emissions from aviation include a complex brew of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. Increasing air travel means pressure to obtain fossil fuel to fly them and huge tracts of countryside paved and given over to airports. This fossil fuel industry is propped up annually by billions of taxpayer dollars in Australia.

Greta Thunberg really is trying to tell us something when she refuses to fly at all.

Anne Gayler, Blackwood, SA

Dim the lights

Thank you for the revealing two-page special investigation (“Switching it up in the battle to keep our lights on”, 13/1) on the electricity energy industry’s three potential disaster areas. Probably most of us know them: ageing power plants, extreme weather and a policy vacuum.

The report is a frightening expose of the problems in Australia’s electricity system: 22per cent of Victoria’s electric power comes from an ageing coal power plant, Yallourn. Our temperatures are rising – the long-term devastating fires across the states are stark evidence, and still they burn.

It has been many moons since I ventured into Melbourne City at night, but I see much evidence on television that many city buildings after dark are ablaze with lights. Security is no doubt one reason, but do we need such a huge waste of energy?

Householders are reminded to switch lights off when we leave a room. Can we ask or mandate that our city buildings greatly reduce their lights? If this electricity is conserved in cities large and small throughout Australia, more power will be available on the grids for future sweltering days.

It makes sense to me.

Margery Joan, Templestowe Lower

We should not have to pay

Transurban is blaming contaminated soil for the West Gate Tunnel sackings. Methinks the “due diligence” wasn’t diligent enough. Given the route of the tunnel, surely the possibility of contamination and toxic soil conditions was a given.

One hopes the government sticks to its guns and the contractor wears the cost due to its poor research into the ground conditions it would likely encounter during the tunnelling.

The public should not wear the cost of a private company bidding low and hoping the public purse will stump up for any cost overruns.

Ross Cropley, Ringwood North

What will we learn?

Scott Morrison is suggesting a royal commission into the bushfires that have plagued Australia in the last few months. This will take at least 12 months to finish, probably much more – good news for the legal profession but will this really tell us anything we don’t already know?

Why do politicians not listen to the science? Why do they not listen to the professional firefighting experts? Maybe a diversion into an unnecessary royal commission will delay a serious discussion of climate science until the embers of the 2019-2020 fires have been forgotten by the suburban population.

Roger Leslie, Pakenham

Department of Irony

Surely, even our Prime Minister cannot miss the irony in ruling out a “tax” on carbon (“PM open to ‘further’ cuts to emissions”, 13/1) when it is solely the success of the short-lived carbon tax 2012-14 in reducing emissions that produced the “carry-over credits” that are the cornerstone of his argument that Australia is meeting its obligations.

Furthermore, he wants the suggested royal commission to “not to seek an answer to, but … acknowledgement of the climate we now live in …”

How good a side-step and delay is that?

Geoff Payne, Mornington

Not really comparable

Entrepreneur and investor Paul Bassat has called for the current bushfire crisis to be Australia’s “Port Arthur moment”, analogous to John Howard’s politically and personally courageous decision to ban guns despite opposition from his supporters.

For the analogy to be adequate it would require Howard to have been warned repeatedly over years by forensic experts that Martin Bryant was an ever-increasing threat, that extra security was needed around Port Arthur and other possible sites, and that the community had to be educated about the risks.

Howard, his ministers and his supporters in the media would have responded by scorning the experts. Howard would have brandished a rifle in Parliament, mocking the Labor Party for jeopardising the living standards of ordinary Australians.

This is not a Port Arthur moment. This is the government’s encounter with the consequences of the hubris, ignorance and falsehoods that the Coalition embodies.

Edwin Harari, Fitzroy

Take the lead

To all the commentators suggesting we should do nothing about our emissions “because we contribute just a tiny percentage of China’s emissions”, there are a couple of words that spring to mind: principles and leadership.

We no longer have capital punishment in Australia, not because we only ever contributed a tiny percentage to the world’s total, but because it was the principled thing to do. On the global stage, how could we criticise other nations’ barbaric use of capital punishment if we were still busy leading the condemned to their execution?

It’s not possible to lead from the rear. It’s time for our politicians to actually lead and take a position based on what the science tells us is necessary.

Colin Howard, Hawthorn East

Words, not action

David Crowe says, “Morrison can be cagey with his language” (Comment, 13/1).

What an understatement. His words, “evolving our policy”, and promises of “action” sound encouraging, but as David Crowe reminds us, “It’s easier to change language than change the product”, and it’s not cagey words we need, it’s action on climate change before it’s too late – unless, of course, it’s already too late.

Rosemary Taylor, Castlemaine

Selective scepticism

I’m always amazed when some say they need to look at the science for themselves before accepting the reality of climate change.

Really. So I assume before seeing a doctor they examine the science of medicine, before taking medication they examine chemistry and before flying they study physics.

Of course not. And pointing this out is not showing disrespect, it’s providing a community service.

Samantha Keir, Brighton East

Our anger is reasonable

John Fitzgerald (Letters, 14/1) says we should be more thoughtful to those we disagree with on climate change.

Image a bunch of people insisting, despite the mountains of contrary evidence, that the world is flat – “round earth sceptics”. Normally, we’d just laugh at such people, but when they actively campaign to damage our way of life in support of their “belief”, reasonable people are entitled to be angry with them.

Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick

The Middle East principle …

Australia has just sent a ship to join a multinational force in the Middle East – Australian service personnel will make up maybe 1 per cent of the force.

If a gesture like this is worth doing to demonstrate leadership, solidarity and shared concern, then surely cutting our carbon emissions will do exactly the same.

Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South

Unclear on the concept

I was a bit confused by your statement Prime Minister. Did you mean we’re going to do something about climate change while pretending we’re not, or we’re not going to do anything about climate change while pretending we are?

Either way it seems you’re more concerned with appeasing the climate change deniers than actually taking effective action.

It’s time to toughen up, put them back in their box and get on with the job you so desperately wanted.

Tim Durbridge, Brunswick


Climate change

If 20 countries with similar emission targets to Australia met them, that would account for a large percentage of emissions reduction overall (And Another Thing, 13/1). Do the maths. So yes, I do really think doing our bit will help.

Kate Daniel, Glenrowan West

Our politicians should heed Edmund Burke’s advice: “No one ever made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”

Les Aisen, Elsternwick

The idea of rolling over carbon credits is like over-watering the garden one year so as to not water it the next. Ridiculous.

Dorothy Waterfield, Seaholme

The fires

Removing government taxes from fuel stops along the way to fire-ravaged tourism destinations would be a practical way to aid recovery.

Bill Burns, Bendigo

We first need a royal commission to establish why previous royal commissions are ignored.

Jeff McCormack, ​Hangelsberg, Germany


Missing: Some very big ideas. If found, please return to Parliament House.

Paul Drakeford, Kew

Senior ministers talking of “listening to experts”. Is this an official reversal of government policy?

Lauriston Muirhead, Table Top, NSW


Feed the seagulls in Yarra Park and they won’t go to the game.

John Bowman, Ocean Grove

Retailers are proposing to put the focus on “smarter selling”. What their customers would prefer is better buying.

Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale


“The thought that Tehran is not being run by a coherent strategic brain is unsettling (World, The Age, 14/1). Replace Tehran with Washington and it’s just as true.

Graham Fetherstonhaugh, Carlton North

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