[LINK] Environment Department Wasting Energy on Letters

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Sun Jan 31 10:11:58 AEDT 2010

In early January I sent an email message to the Minster for Environment,
Water, Heritage and the Arts suggesting Internet enhanced meetings for
post-Copenhagen climate change negotiations:

Two weeks later I received an anonymous reply in the form of an email 
message with a facsimile letter attached (signed by someone with an 
unreadable signature). The letter thanked me for my email and said my 
letter (I didn't send them a letter) had been referred to the Minister 
for Climate Change.

The attached letter was in the form of a TIFF image. The resulting file 
was about 100 times larger than it need to be and would not be readable 
by those with limited vision. Government guidelines (and Australian law)
require services to be provided in a way does not discriminate against
people with a disability, including the blind. Routinely generating
correspondence in the form of an image may constitute unlawful

If communication was necessary (which it wasn't) all that was needed was
a brief email. This would have been more readable and would used much
few resources.

Environment's ministerial and parliamentary services handled about
20,000 items of ministerial correspondence last year:

Assuming that a message similar to the one I got (about 40 kbytes of
unnecessary data) was sent to each, that represents about 800 Mbytes of
data. As this is correspondence the department will need to keep a copy
on file for some years, wasting resources (and causing greenhouse gas 
emissions) and increasing costs. So the Department's response to my
suggestion for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been to increase

The Australian Government has some excellent guidelines on how to handle
communications (some of which I helped write). The Ministerial and
Parliamentary Services of the Australian Department of Environment
perhaps should read some of them.

ps: I don't normally write to government ministers, I just give public 
talks and post items online. I assume that someone will pass the 
information on to whoever might find it useful in government. The 
recipient is then not obliged to acknowledge the source and is free to 
use as much, or little, of the idea as needed. I suspect that gets 
better results and I will stick to that approach from now on.

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

More information about the Link mailing list