Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
To submit a letter to The Age, email email@example.com. Please include your home address and telephone number.
Dealing with China and the US simultaneously
I know Chris Uhlmann has a sideline writing fiction, but he seems to be getting his two jobs confused (Opinion, 15/9). He accuses me of saying China bears no fault for the trouble in our relationship – this is not what I said, as readers would find if they checked my article in the Australian Financial Review of September 3 for themselves. The main purpose of my article to which Uhlmann takes exception was not to set out areas where I disagree with Beijing but to make clear the dangers to Australia in its current approach.
Uhlmann follows Peter Dutton and the Prime Minister in the growing chorus of Australian hawks who hear the drums of war beating and compare the current situation in East Asia to Europe in the 1930s, with China being portrayed as the equivalent of the rampaging Nazis (Uhlmann’s reference: “The Anschluss of the South China Sea”).
This imagery and the overblown language that goes with it – “Almost all Beijing’s grievances with Australia are commands that it compromise its security and its democracy” – is intended to serve only one objective: to normalise in the minds of Australians the idea that China is an existential threat to our country and our way of life and that military responses will be necessary because, unless China dismantles its entire system, there is no other way to deal with it.
There is no room in Uhlmann’s simplistic analysis for shading, debate or discussion – Beijing is a one dimensional villain and that’s it. Australia is the blameless hero. It could serve as a plot for one of Uhlmann’s thrillers (“Beijing has revealed … its plans for the way the world should be run”) but it is a dangerous fantasy as a prescription for Australian national security policy.
As I said in the Australian Financial Review article, Australia is being led by the government and the likes of Uhlmann into a strategic dead-end. And all in the cause of not having a foreign policy which is capable of dealing with China and the United States simultaneously.
Paul Keating, Potts Point, NSW
We must put Australia and our sovereignty first
Chris Uhlmann’s views on Paul Keating’s position on China are spot on. China sees Australia as a country that it must control. If it did not need what we have so much, it would have nothing to do with us. The Australian apologists for China who blame Australia for the problems should explain their position and why they are prepared to put China’s interests ahead of ours.
The idea that we need the Chinese money is not the whole story. As the pandemic has shown, we can establish new markets and thrive without China. When I hear different people say that Australia needs to bow down to China, I question their motives and if they have some financial interests for saying so because it ignores all the evils listed by Uhlmann. However, that list is far from exhaustive. Massive amounts of illegal drugs and precursor chemicals are coming from China too. We should treat it how it deserves to be treated and that is best done by putting Australia and our sovereignty first.
Douglas Potter, Surrey Hills
China, a very convenient enemy for our country
At the end of the Soviet Union, a Soviet general is supposed to have told a Western counterpart: “We are going to do a terrible thing to you: we are going to deprive you of an enemy”. Not to worry; now we have China. It may be an untrustworthy friend, a trade bully and a bad neighbour, but it also makes a very useful enemy.
Consider the possibilities: having an enemy helps you define who you are; a common enemy builds co-operation between countries that do not always co-operate very well; an enemy is always a useful scapegoat when things go wrong; and it helps greatly with simplistic explanations along the lines of “Them bad, therefore us good”.
But, maybe we should cool it just a little: too much nationalism can get nasty. And then there is the minor problem of global warming. We still need to co-operate with China on matters like that.
Robert Attrill, Balwyn North
Who donated the money?
As if it were not bad enough that Christian Porter accepted money from an unknown source to partly pay for his legal fees (The Age, 15/9), Josh Frydenberg defends his actions by saying he disclosed the fees in accordance with the rules for politicians and he did not use taxpayers’s money to pay for his defence. Does Mr Frydenberg really think we are that stupid? What if this happened during a Labor government? Imagine the screams of outrage coming from him and Mr Porter.
Pauline Ashton, Maribyrnong
Can I have my share back?
My accounting system is not all that good. I think I may have contributed a million or so to Christian Porter’s blind trust. Now that it has been revealed how it was spent – it ultimately paid part of his legal fees for his defamation action against the ABC and its reporter Louise Milligan – I have changed my mind. Can anyone give me advice on how you can get your money back if Mr Porter does not know who donated it?
Mick O’Mara, Winchelsea
I’m an MP, trust me
Christian Porter’s understanding of a blind trust is obviously that we, the electorate, will demonstrate a blind trust in whatever he says or does.
Sandra Peeters, Ventnor
Back up your words
Yesterday, on page 12, The Age thanks readers for helping it “expose lies” and answer questions that need asking. You make the point that you do it all, “from politics to business to food to football”. Why then bury the Christian Porter story in the bottom corner of page 13? Ironically, almost next to the assertion about hard-hitting, fearless, take-it-up-to-them journalism.
John Hird, Ripponlea
The best candidate first
Re Kristina Keneally’s decision to contest a lower house seat in Sydney’s west. If the key test for preselection for any seat is framed as “Is the contender from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background?“, then how can a contender with an exemplary record of public service (who is not from that background) ever be chosen? Being from a CALD background should never disqualify candidates, but it should not qualify them above better candidates.
Linda Skinner, Mooroolbark
If Kristina Keneally is successful in her proposed nomination for the federal seat of Fowler, why doesn’t Tu Le stand as an independent candidate? Let the voters of Fowler decide who they would prefer to represent them in Parliament.
Lindsay Cooper, Brighton East
Contest a marginal seat
If Labor is serious about winning the federal election and Kristina Keneally wants to move to the lower house, surely she and the party should be pursuing her nomination for a marginal lower house seat.
Brian Marshall, Ashburton
Rewarding rule breaking?
A day of shame for the Andrews government. Non-compliance (with masks) by construction workers is rewarded by their being given 20,000 priority Pfizer and unlimited AstraZeneca bookings (The Age, 15/9). Meanwhile, our students are pushed further back in the queue to advantage these workers yet again. Schools are in extended lockdown and mental health and learning are both compromised. Is the solution for exhausted teachers and our struggling students that we should disregard the rules and hope for vaccines to be rolled out for us?
Vesna Grant, Strathmore
The harsh reality of COVID
I have been a pharmacist since 1975 and I despair at the refusal of some people to be vaccinated. I believe that this could partly be due to the nature of COVID-19 and the perception that it is like “the flu”. I bet that if it were a visible or disfiguring illness like smallpox or meningococcal disease, where you can be scarred for life or have parts of limbs dropping off, there would be a stampede to be vaccinated. We need to clearly describe what it is like to have the distressing symptoms and how one actually dies – in agony, unable to breathe – with COVID-19.
Noela Bull, Diamond Creek
Won’t somebody listen?
Many people in the “luckier” states would not understand the hidden parts of lockdown. We are all sharing the pain. However, most of the time when you reach out to someone to vent, give yourself a chance to unload, you realise that they are doing it tough too, maybe in more ways than you are and particularly youth and young adults.A no-win situation and it says a lot about our mental health by this stage. It is hard to share with those close to you when we are all in the same place.
Maureen Gunn, Strathmore
Make it a free for all
So those who refuse to be vaccinated believe we will create two classes of society if they are refused entry to hotels and restaurants. I presume they will campaign actively for the right to smoke in the same venues.
Simon Costello, Melbourne
A snowballing effect
“The kids are all fine,” says the principal of Fitzroy Community School. “A couple are a bit fluey.” (The Age, 14/9) What about their parents, grandparents, neighbours and siblings? What will he say if his school’s 30-plus cases become 100, then 200? If a grandparent dies, will he keep defending his stance? He needs to be fined and dismissed.
Ian Clemens, Flora Hill
A very foolish action
I have some sympathy for Fitzroy Community School principal Tim Berryman. We teachers are always concerned for the wellbeing of our students and want to do everything we can to support them. However, his desire to help his students has caused him to lose sight of the bigger picture.
By letting his school become a super-spreader venue, he has inflicted damage on people in his school community and the wider community. A considerable number of people have COVID-19 and are in quarantine with others also isolating because of his actions. This includes at least one nurse who is unable to work for 14 days. We do not help anybody’s mental health by taking actions that are likely to infect people and extend the lockdown.
Grant Nichol, North Ringwood
We need some freedom
When Victoria achieves the target 70 per cent vaccination rate, we will be “rewarded” with one hour more of outdoor exercise and the possibility of travelling 10 kilometres from home (The Age, 15/9). I hope that under the state’s road map, to be announced soon, there will be further easing of restrictions as a reward for Melburnians who have struggled through lockdown after lockdown and complied with sledgehammer bureaucracy. If Dan Andrews offers peanuts, it will have little positive benefit to most people.
Margot Pogos, Caulfield
Policies based on evidence
Lara Blamey’s claim (letters 15/9) that neither Italy nor Sweden shut down schools during the past 20months is incorrect. Indeed, Swedish upper-secondary schools delivered online teaching throughout much of the pandemic and Italian schools have been closed at various times, but are open now with apparently 98per cent of teachers fully immunised against COVID-19.
Before we follow these “wise old world countries”, we should consider how well their policies have worked. In this regard, COVID-associated mortality rates to date per 100,000 population are 215 in Italy, 146 in Sweden and four in Australia. Although these striking differences are not necessarily due to policies concerning school closures, decisions based on evidence are generally the best.
Roy Browne, Templestowe
A community with heart
Don Jordan says, “In my experience, new arrivals tend to keep to themselves and kids don’t play in the street any more.” (Letters, 15/9) That may be so in Melbourne but it is not the case in regional and rural areas. I moved to Murtoa in 2019 and these days I know all my neighbours. We keep a collective eye on the neighbourhood kids when they are playing in the street, and on our neighbours’ homes when they are on holidays. My street is a vibrant, social and resilient community that is thriving.
Michael Fenaughty, Murtoa
Tudge’s empty words
And what uniform did federal Education Minister Alan Tudge wear? My paternal grandfather served in both world wars and only ever spoke about it once in my company. My father (and both his brothers) served in World War II. Dad only spoke of the war in his later years. I have always found it curious that those who did not take part in military service self-appoint themselves as the true custodians of our military history. For the record, I served 20years in the RAAF.
Andrew Percy, Newport
What the GF really means
The AFL grand final at the G is hard-wired into the psyche of footy people in Melbourne, Peter Drum (Letters, 15). Watching it take place in Perth, on television, will in no way capture the buzz of excitement that builds up in our city in the lead-up to the game at our ground. The air vibrates differently.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff
Give us the happy stories
Could The Age please borrow an idea from the online Washington Post? Each day there is a section called Good News, with half a dozen or so heart-warming stories. I am sure that others in lockdown are also tired of all the bad news.
Gaell Hildebrand, Cohuna
Two hours of pure joy
Thank you, Jill Dixon – “A garden treat” (Letters, 15/9). We used our daily exercise time to cycle to Fitzroy Gardens, and the floral displays were magnificent. And thanks to Melbourne City Council staff for their great work. One request: bike racks at the entrance to the gardens would be appreciated as cycling is forbidden. Our appreciation would have been even greater if we had not had to push our bikes.
Kerry Echberg, Princes Hill
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Has there ever been a “captain’s pick” that has worked out well?
Peter Carlin, Frankston South
Forget about Keneally. Just get Plibersek to lead the ALP.
Michael McKenna, Warragul
Does the federal government keep its policies in a blind trust?
Denis Young, Sandringham
Porter’s legal fees paid in part by a blind trust: designed to keep us, not him, in the dark. A disgrace.
Rosemary Kiss, Rippleside
Christian, I understand your position. Unknown benefactors pay my bills all the time.
Peter Randles, Pascoe Vale South
Are Clive and Craig aware of the connotations of ″yellow journalism″?
Bill Gilbert, Olinda
Once construction workers (tradies) comply with mask wearing, could something be done about their driving skills?
Gregory Head, Warburton
Wearing a mask saves on lipstick but you spend more on shampoo and conditioner.
Marjorie White, Blackburn
If Abbott saw kids destroying trees (15/9), he’d offer them a chainsaw and jackhammer to dig for coal.
Rohan Wightman, McKenzie Hill
The problem with facetious terms such as “common sense” (15/9). There’s yours, there’s mine, and we each mean something different.
Jan Lacey, North Melbourne
Great news that Quade Cooper will be granted citizenship. How long before the Biloela kids can play basketball for Australia?
Ted Keene, Burwood East
Refugees are advised to pay bowling coaches instead of people smugglers.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale
Wilcox (15/9) captures the cruel reality of life in Afghanistan: the ″new″ Taliban with the same old rules.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Brilliant, Wilcox. Deserves a Walkley.
Judith Taylor, Clematis
The Age’s editor, Gay Alcorn, writes an exclusive newsletter for subscribers on the week’s most important stories and issues. Sign up here to receive it every Friday.
Most Viewed in National
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article