Credit:Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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CHINA, AUSTRALIA AND THE US
Our decision not to upset an aggressive ally
Trade with China is essential for our survival. Thirty per cent of our income comes from the Chinese market, 80 per cent of our iron ore exports go to China and one in 13 jobs derives from our engagement with the Chinese economy. Logic would suggest that the US ‘‘alliance’’ is holding us back. We are urged to remember the ties that bind it and Australia, but we live in a world governed by economic realities. We need to look at another rather salient point.
More than 25per cent of all capital invested here comes from the US. Then there are the words of the then Vice-President Joe Biden on a visit to Australia in 2016 to ramp up anti-China sentiment: ‘‘So if I had to bet on which country is going to lead economically in the 21st century … I’d bet on the United States. But I’d put it another way: It’s never been a good bet to bet against the United States’’. Our leaders seem to have weighed up the odds and agreed that making an enemy of China is less threatening than upsetting our most powerful and aggressive American ally.
William Briggs, Niddrie
We need to end our economic dependency on China
After all the issues with China and its continual denigration of our country, and the consequent degradation of trade as well as ongoing espionage, is it wise to accept Chinese students again? About 25 years ago I was provided with a brief by military intelligence that stated one of the greatest dangers to our defence was sabotage of our financial system by China. This seems to have been ignored by a succession of governments until now. Many other countries would quickly fill the allocated student positions. It is time we removed the financial dependency on a country governed by paranoia and a desire for world domination.
Lee Nahmias, Oakleigh South
Australians are worried and the PM isn’t helping
Scott Morrison, in the interests of Australia, may I suggest that you try to react in a statesmanlike manner. You could point out that as a democratic country, we are able to accept our responsibilities and shortcomings, domestic and international, and are capable of commissioning, and then acknowledging, the findings of the Brereton Inquiry, and acting on them maturely. Many Australians, particularly primary producers, are very concerned at the latest conflagration in our relationship with China. You seem intent on throwing more fuel on that fire.
Peter Lloyd, Toorak
Do not reward this ‘provocative sibling rivalry’
Both the US and China want to impose global hegemony of their particular national-centric styles of respectively, capitalism and communism. They also wish to be well respected by the global community. The mature response to provocative ‘‘sibling rivalry’’ is to not reward it. This requires skilled and constructive diplomacy, as displayed by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The Australian government needs to send all its MPs to diplomacy training, and restore the numerous overseas diplomatic missions it has removed over recent years.
Jennifer Gerrand, Carlton North
How we should have handled this situation
Surely there was a better response to the fictitious photo. We could have agreed with China that the crimes committed by a minority of Australian soldiers were shocking and unacceptable. But we could also have noted that Australia is proud our free press was able to uncover and report on these misdemeanours, and that our independent judicial system was able to investigate and recommend charges be laid. Then we might have been in a better position to point out that circulating fabricated images does nothing to assist the process of accountability and shows disrespect to those Afghans who were killed.
Kairen Harris, Brunswick
A double standard from China on human rights
China relishes the opportunity to have a go at Australia. Let us not forget what it did to its own citizens in the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.
Basil Theophilos, Castlemaine
Let’s stand up for Taiwan
This might be the right time for Australia and other Western democracies to recognise Taiwan as an independent country. It is a democracy and has been an independent country for many years. It would be appropriate thing to do for Taiwan, so that it does not meet the same destiny as Hong Kong. That should give the Chinese Communist Party some food for thought.
Lou Novak, Rosanna
Trapped in one market
Damien Ryan says he ‘‘will not buy anything made in China for the foreseeable future’’ (Letters, 3/12). Let the search begin and good luck with finding any products which originate from nations other than China. This is a problem of our own making. That old adage springs to mind: Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket.
John Paine, Kew East
Pity our poor exports
Australia is not expected to be a world leader in relationships with China, and our current efforts are decimating our export sector. Let us step back and give our economic recovery a boost.
Maurice Morgan, Balwyn
The real media giant
Why all this concern about the Chinese government influencing Chinese publications in Australia – ‘‘Intel agency reveals how China runs local media’’ (The Age, 3/12)? We should have more concern about the non-government, multinational company having such a profound influence on the Australian media.
Patricia Norden, Middle Park
Why publicise the image?
I am interested in the judgment, or rather lack thereof, displayed by both The Age and the ABC in publishing photos of the doctored image from Twitter via China. Does any more publicity or a wider audience serve any real purpose?
Robin Nettleton, Richmond
Two different approaches
The essential difference between Australia and China is that we publicly acknowledge our failings whereas the Chinese do not. They must think we are crazy to publicise these alleged war crimes. However, we know about the terrible things that China has done, such as the invasion of Tibet, the Cultural Revolution, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, the Uigurs and all the political opponents who disappear into its opaque legal system.
Michael Meszaros, Alphington
Stand up for our rights
We might as well forget about China as a market. The question is do we kowtow to Xi Jinping or do we show a bit of backbone? We might as well recall our ambassador and his staff, close our embassy and consulates, and cease having any official relationships with China. Once we have everyone home and safe, we should put a travel advice telling citizens not to go to China. Six months down the track, we should recognise Taiwan which does not have a president for life.
Peter Ramadge, Newport
Let’s be independent again
Why don’t we do better than buy a bottle of wine or two and tell China to ‘‘nick off’’ (Letters, 30/11), and start making everything here in Australia again? If we did, we would always be ‘‘supporting local’’. If China is going to have that attitude, we do not need it. Simple.
Maria Tsigerliotis, Moorabbin
The joy of a good wine
John Mosig’s suggestion to replace vines with food crops (Letters, 1/12) will create ripples in the wine glasses of readers who enjoy both. It was W.C. Fields who said: ‘‘I cook with wine. Sometimes, I even add it to the food.’’
Ray Peck, Hawthorn
The troubles will pass
John Mosig’s comments on wine exports suggest we try ‘‘a form of horticulture that produces edible products that can be processed for long-term shelf life’’. Well, wine has a long shelf life, getting a better flavour every year. Let us lay it all down for a year or two, the troubles will pass, new markets will be found and the prices will be even better. It will be well worth the wait.
Graham Reynolds, Soldiers Hill
Speak out on disability
Yes, Dr Ben Gauntlett (Opinion, 3/12), let us end the silence on disability. Having an acquired disability, I now see life through a different lens. The lack of accessible buildings and houses is astounding. Whenever I visit a restaurant or cafe with bathrooms upstairs and no lift, I sigh and do not return. It is time for change.
Caroline Morgan, Mordialloc
Building for our future
Sixty years’ working in the residential construction sector convinces me it is possible to design and build homes in a way that takes into account owners’ present and future needs – for example, constructing houses and units that can be divided easily and inexpensively into separate residences. Considering future access, incorporating fire walls, soundproofing and preliminary work for plumbing and power is much cheaper during construction than retrofitting later on.
Residences built this way would allow older couples to remain in their family home and community, releasing equity without having to enter into reverse mortgages with banks that can quickly eat into their assets. Splitting homes in this way can also provide an affordable pathway for children of owners, or other young couples, to rent or buy a first property in an established suburb. This would reduce the need to constantly expand Melbourne’s boundaries and associated infrastructure.
Norman Marr, Williamstown
A minister who really cares
The final report of the aged care royal commission comes out in February. The reform to aged care in Australia will get the best long-term results if Richard Colbeck is replaced as Aged Care Minister and whoever takes his place has expertise in the field and is motivated, in the main, by an attitude of effective altruism. This would make a huge difference to the quality of life of older Australians for generations to come.
Ruth Farr, Blackburn South
Celebrating our wildlife
Thank you, Joe Armao, for the great photo of San Remo’s pelicans in your Marvellous Melbourne series (The Age, 3/12). If you walk along the pontoon arm of the nearby jetty (as I do most mornings), you might be lucky enough to see one of the world’s largest stingrays gliding gracefully into shallow waters and hoping to share the pelicans’ meal.
Jane Ross, San Remo
We need our own V&A
It is good news that the National Gallery of Victoria Contemporary, a gallery for local and international art, will be constructed at the Southbank arts precinct. However, there is still a vacuum around recognition of the decorative arts. A permanent place to show the work of designers past and present of jewellery, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, textiles and graphic art is still missing.
Diane Garrett, Kyneton
Unnecessary and painful
Journalists Paola Totaro & Robert Wainwright (Opinion, 3/12) appear to have a pretty good knowledge of Martin Bryant. But why on earth would making a film about him, written by Shaun Grant and directed by Justin Kurzel (The Age, 3/12), ‘‘widen understanding of the kind of brain development and psychiatric issues that can lead to such catastrophic disasters’’?
Write a book then for those who are interested, but surely a film will just resurrect awful memories for so many people. Save the time, effort and cost and move on to something worthwhile.
Andrew McNicoll, Kew
Preventing more atrocities
For those who are contemplating opposition to the proposed film about Martin Bryant and the Port Arthur massacre for which he was responsible: it may well serve as an object lesson, as have depictions of many other atrocities such as the Holocaust and its instigator Adolf Hitler. We need to face up to, reflect on and act to prevent or limit such events in the future.
Stephen Dinham, Metung
An unjust punishment
The treatment of Tamil asylum seekers, Nades, Priya and their daughters (Letters, 1/12) is truly disgraceful. Can we be told why it has been necessary to detain this family on Christmas Island and what has been the ongoing cost of their detention, let alone the mental anguish for them?
Eleanor Villani, Elsternwick
The cost of retirement
Ross Gittins says ‘‘careful calculations by the Callaghan review – coming on top of those by the independent Grattan Institute – have found that, on the present (superannuation) contribution rate, most workers will retire with disposable incomes at least equal to the widely accepted benchmark of 65 to 75per cent of their pre-retirement disposable income’’ (Opinion, 2/12).
Is he suggesting people should be comfortable to live on 25-35per cent less from the time they retire? Their expenses will not suddenly diminish – and a reasonable desire to travel might increase their needs. Few of us can predict how long we will survive, or the costs we might face due to illness or accident, or the need to support families. Ill-timed economic shocks can create large, unexpected holes in one’s assets.
Many people do not save only for retirement but also to leave something for their children and society. Given the generous tax advantages of super contributions and payments, it is one of the most efficient, and perhaps in the right hands, safest forms of saving.
Rodney Syme, Yandoit Hills
Please save our sudokus
It is the little things that keep us sane. Please retain the user-friendly sudoku formatting as it appears on the current Age app. The revised formatting on the new app is doing my head in.
Rosemary Benkemoun, Brighton
Providing more rooms
It might seem to be counter-intuitive, but why not use cruise ships to supplement hotel quarantine capacity that is said to be inadequate to meet the need?
Michael Hipkins, Richmond
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding
Keating told Hewson: ‘‘I want to do you slowly’’. We’re seeing that again – Xi Jinping to Morrison.
Colin Mockett, Geelong
I don’t know what’s worse: Chinese whispers or Twitter stupidity.
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury
I’m looking forward to drinking export quality wine at a reasonable price.
Robert Page, Barwon Heads
Memo to China. Pot, kettle …
Mike Daly, Burwood
Perhaps we should send Abbott over to shirtfront Xi Jinping.
Tim Douglas, Blairgowrie
He should be advised it’s futile to lodge lawsuits as courts throw out those that are Trumped-up.
Doug Shapiro, Doncaster East
A new role for Orson Welles if he were alive: Citizen Trump.
Ivan Glynn, Vermont
Apologists for China’s behaviour are like Trump supporters: wilfully blind to the bleeding obvious.
Greg Hardy, Upper Ferntree Gully
If the world can support Australia by drinking our wine, can our government support the world by tackling climate change?
Wendy Knight, Little River
Climate change? Too late. Climate changed.
Anne Carroll, Brighton East
Chris Wilson, well said re the bushfire lessons we’ve learned from the pandemic (3/12). Let’s hope our leaders read The Age.
Diane Baxter, Mitcham
Perhaps Paul Fletcher will appreciate how the Four Corners episode was in the public interest after the next election.
Rosslyn Jennings, North Melbourne
Russia points the finger at Australia over war crimes. All I can say is: flight MH17.
Julie Carrick, Leopold
Don’t make a movie and don’t print photos of the Port Arthur murderer or mention his name, in memory of his victims and their families.
Alan Williams, Port Melbourne
Note from the Editor
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