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AUSTRALIA AND CHINA
We can barely afford to be at peace, let alone war
Retired ADF major-general Mick Ryan’s argument (“Bearing down on democracies”, Comment, 11/8) that China would be deterred from going to war by “a significant increase in funding for the military” is the latest version of the weapons of mass destruction deception.
The only lesson that Ryan seems to have learnt from the unjustified wars and innocent deaths in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq is that bigger and bolder falsehoods are needed to get the population to “build a deeper understanding of the issue”, i.e. support a war.
Schools, health, housing, infrastructure, climate and environment will all suffer from a “massive expansion” in military spending. Ryan is basically arguing that Australians must suffer and die in Australia to raise the money for the suffering and killing overseas.
The current huge federal deficit shows that Australia can barely afford to be at peace, it certainly can’t afford another senseless, overseas war.
Peter Martina, Warrnambool
Worrying words from China’s ambassador
It is worrying to hear the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, talking about the use of force to achieve reunification of Taiwan (“China backs right to take Taiwan by force”, The Age, 11/8).
I can’t help but be reminded of the quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “Let China Sleep, for when she wakes, she will shake the world.” The difficulty facing the Western world is that letting China sleep means ignoring the human rights violation committed by China, but as she wakes we are all confronted with a shaky world.
Let us hope Australia is also awake.
Julie Ottobre, Forest Hill
We both stand to gain from a reset relationship
The Chinese ambassador, in his address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, made it abundantly clear that Taiwan is a province of China and China will protect this sovereignty at any cost.
He appealed to Australia and the rest of Western world to stop being ambiguous about this issue because they had acknowledged a one China policy since the 1970s. I agree with him that the Australian government should reset the relationship with China because both countries have a lot to gain. Conversely both will lose if the relationship is not restored.
Ike Naqvi, Tinderbox, Tas.
We have paid our US debts and owe Taiwan nothing
Any war with China would most likely arise if Australia joined the US with military support for Taiwan in the event of its invasion by China. China would regard this as a declaration of war, with horrendous consequences for this country. Even without military assistance from Australia, US military action would result in missile attacks on our soil by China at US/Australian facilities at Pine Gap and North West Cape.
More direct military assistance from Australia would almost certainly result in many more missile attacks by China on Australian targets and a crippling of our supply chains, utilities and communications infrastructure through cyber-warfare and anti-satellite warfare. China could effectively unplug us, and watch us fight each other as we struggle with the consequences.
In this context, the review of Australia’s defence capabilities must extend to supply chain and cyber resilience. But this talk of war with China must stop. Harsh as it sounds, we have paid our debts to the US, and we owe Taiwan nothing. But we owe our children everything.
John Lambrick, Malvern
Put it to a vote
China’s ambassador to Australia is convinced that the majority of the people in Taiwan support reunification with China.
If that view were to be tested in a reunification referendum in Taiwan, I wonder whether China would agree to abide by the outcome of that vote. Probably not, I expect.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
Ease the workload
After almost 20 years of teaching it is with a mixture of relief and sadness that I’m leaving the classroom. I love being in the classroom but as former secondary school teacher Stephanie Wescott (“Bonuses plan to tackle teacher shortage”, The Age, 11/8) states, the data driven system adds hours of administration to an overwhelming workload.
Bonuses and financial incentives might attract new teachers but they won’t help retain them, or the current teachers.
The yearly contract circus results in many teachers spending every weekend in term 4 writing reports, assessing students and applying for jobs. Consequently they are employed early the following year and spend every weekend in term 1 planning teaching programs.
Pointless meetings eat into time for planning and assessing work when the teaching day finishes. Lack of part-time teaching positions and school leadership and bureaucrats treating teachers like errant children who must jump through hoops to prove their commitment to teaching rather than professionals who chose to teach add to the pressure.
All these realities destroy the desire and ability to teach. Sadly students are the ones who bear the cost of this dysfunctional system.
Rohan Wightman, McKenzie Hill
The root of the problem
Proposals to increase the supply of skilled teachers by the state and Commonwealth governments are a step in the right direction, but before increasing the supply, they need to have a clear understanding of the root causes of teacher burnout and fix that problem.
Solutions might include administrative support and the use of teacher aides.
Adding new teachers to a broken system won’t fix anything.
Peter White, Kew
Incidentally, I’ve been lost
I enjoy watching football and cricket but it’s generally incidental watching. If it’s on TV, looks interesting and I have time I watch. But if it’s on pay TV I will be far less likely to do this incidental viewing.
I’ve noticed as cricket chased the pay TV dollars, the amount of cricket I watched quickly declined and my interest in the current game has decreased (although I still love Tests). If more football goes behind a paywall I suspect the same will happen (“More footy to fall behind paywall”, The Age, 11/8).
So while the pay TV dollars look attractive in the short term, long term the loss of incidental watching may well damage the game as many “incidental” viewers like me will be lost.
Clancy Briggs, Berwick
Less law, more education
Since the evidence shows that many people can’t understand that no means no, consent legislation is unlikely to improve matters. If there’s a power imbalance, it would only exacerbate the problem.
Your report (“Warning over proposed sex consent law change”, The Age, 11/8) notes that in cases of assault the intention is to place more focus on the actions of the perpetrator rather than the victim.
That’s certainly a worthwhile aim, but in practice it’s hard to see how enforcing the notion of consent can change an unequal perception of what actually constitutes consent and what’s required of each party.
David Hallowes’ article (“Drunken sex, misread signals could end in court”, Comment, 11/8) importantly notes that “there is no doubt that greater education about consent is required”, and this seems a preferable route to take. As with so many things, the more the law seeks to intervene, the less likely a workable solution becomes.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale
That’s a fault
No question that Serena Williams is one of the all-time great tennis players, but the remarks quoted at the end of the piece by Scott Spits (“Williams dominated but wished for more”, The Age, 11/8) explain why many fans have never warmed to her.
She never lost a slam final because her opponent outplayed her on the day, but only because she “didn’t show up”.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura
Always doomed to fail
So the expensive, but worthless, COVIDSafe app has finally been decommissioned (“Un-appy: COVID tracer a $21m flop”, The Age, 11/8), but it was always doomed to fail.
In an ironic inversion of the usual tech dilemma, politicians and developers were so convinced that they should develop a technological solution to contact tracing, that nobody bothered to question whether they could.
Bluetooth was designed to transmit data over short distances, not to measure the distance between devices. While the most recent versions of the Bluetooth standard include ranging functionality, this requires hardware support that is not implemented in the vast majority of existing smartphones.
Taxpayers shelled out $21 million merely to confirm what should have been obvious: that the available technology was not fit-for-purpose.
Mark Summerfield, Northcote
Unclear on the concept
Could someone please explain council rate costs and why in our situation we pay up to double the rates of our neighbours, purely based on the supposed value of our house.
And not just the technical legislated reason, which is based on a financial equation, but why does one household pay more or less than their neighbours for the same council services.
Why are people charged different rates for the same service just because their house is deemed to be worth more than those around them are.
People living in smaller, less expensive houses could have far higher incomes yet pay lower rates.
What makes the council think that just because we live in one particular house that we should pay more than another household to receive the same services.
When you shop at Coles they don’t ask for the value of your house before deciding how much to charge for your groceries.
Craig Batty, Brunswick East
They still need help
It is no surprise that Cranbourne was one of the top four suburbs in Australia most dependent on JobKeeper to get through the COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Australian Tax Office data (“JobKeeper a lifeline for suburban battlers”, The Age, 9/8).
During the lockdowns, my organisation, Community Information & Support Cranbourne saw many people on JobKeeper who had never accessed support services before. Often there was a substantial gap between losing jobs and receiving a payment.
Not all people on JobKeeper have been able to return to work, and many are still working fewer hours. Certainly we are seeing financial hardship becoming more endemic in our community.
The reduction from the effective doubling of JobSeeker during the height of the pandemic also had a huge impact, with many people unable to cover the basic costs of living on their Centrelink income. This is why we support the Australian Council of Social Service position that JobSeeker and similar payments should be raised to at least $490 a week to lift households out of poverty.
Leanne Petrides, Community Information & Support Cranbourne
The best defence …
Retired ADF major-general Mick Ryan states that “democracies are the same. If one is not worth defending why are any of them” (“Bearing down on democracies”, Comment, 11/8).
The defence of democracy could be better attended to by strengthening trade ties, mutual respect and declaration of neutrality. This could be branded as appeasement however it is currently a better option than sabre rattling and the call for increased defence spending.
It should be remembered that wars generate their own momentum and follow the law of unanticipated consequences.
Peter Roche, Carlton
When has this worked?
Has any former government service or organisation become better, cheaper or more efficient following its privatisation? One, even one?
How much money that should have gone to end users goes instead to layers of duplicated, irrelevant or unnecessary administration costs? How many of these companies and/or their principals have not profited quite nicely from providing services on behalf of governments, state and federal?
I’m loath to suggest yet another royal commission but someone needs to provide the facts and figures to either prove or disprove the gut feeling of so many of us that privatisation was and continues to be a disaster.
It’s time to either put our minds at rest or do something to undo the mess, if such is the case.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Stop making excuses
With due respect to your correspondent’s suggestion (“Why public is always best”, Letters, 9/8) that Annie’s father made a poor choice for her to present to Holmesglen Private Hospital rather than going to the nearest public maternity hospital to address her medical condition, after contacting the hospital who were happy to accept Annie as a pregnant patient, I consider that to be offensive to Annie’s family.
When faced with such a decision in time of medical emergency does anyone have time to check out whether a hospital will be able to provide the “appropriate care and treatment”?
Surely her medical condition was such that it could have been better diagnosed by the hospital rather than what occurred.
Stop excusing the failures and poor decisions made at hospitals whatever they may be – private or public.
Alan Muir, Mount Eliza
Some cause for hope
I have hope for this country after reading Liam Mannix’s article (“Scientists ‘cautiously hopeful’ on funding boost”, The Age, 9/8) that the government is talking about increasing funding for research.
I hope along with the increase is a more streamlined approach whereby scientists don’t have to spend half their time applying for funding when they should be working on their research.
And I am not a scientist.
Pauline Ashtone, Maribyrnong
AND ANOTHER THING
Matthew Guy needs to schedule in a new diary manager in his diary.
Steve Haylock, Mount Waverley
To borrow from Oscar Wilde, to lose one senior staffer may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.
Viviane King, Milawa
If Melbourne managed to acquire Brodie Grundy to play alongside Max Gawn on a big salary, it’d be the football equivalent of owning Park Lane and Mayfair, which would possibly be the most Melbourne thing ever.
Huw Dann, Blackburn
“More footy to fall behind paywall” (The Age, 11/8). You can bet on that.
Graham Cadd, Dromana
Going back to the office
Why would people want to return to work in the city? Most people on public transport ignore mask rules, have no concept of social distance and simply don’t care about other people. It is not worth one’s health to prop up city businesses.
Malcolm Fraser, Oakleigh South
I wonder if the more than 30 per cent pay rise awarded to Matt Comyn, the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank (CBD, The Age, 11/8) was approved by the Fair Work Commission.
Steve Dixon, North Melbourne
China and Taiwan
China, through its ambassador to this country, has made it crystal clear what its intentions are. What now?
John Rawson, Mernda
The supply-related inflation confronting central banks as geopolitical relations break down, highlights the importance of globalisation in an increasingly fragile world.
Andrew Remington, Kuranda, Qld
With retired politicians being presented lucrative overseas jobs making the news for all the wrong reasons it makes you wonder why they never seem to serve their country in say, Pakistan, Iran or the like. The luck of the draw I suppose.
Ian Hetherington, Moama, NSW
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