Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson
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Australia’s drum beating will only worsen relations
Warmongers should note very carefully former Defence chief Peter Cosgrove’s observations about China:the People’s Liberation Army is now a very potent force, and China has “unequivocally said over a long period of time that they regard Taiwan as being a part of China” (The Age, 19/5).
If it decides to take military action to incorporate Taiwan into the modern communist Chinese state, military intervention by the United States or its allies, including Australia, will end with humiliating defeat. Drum beating and aggressive criticism of China will achieve nothing except worsening relations and further economic damage.
China has no fear of Australia and can bear the cost of trade and diplomatic sanctions much better than we can. Meanwhile, Australia shuts the door on Chinese students who wish to study at our universities, thereby burning the best bridge we had to improve relations with, and influence on, China.
Danny Cole, Essendon
We’ve lost so much, but it’s all OK? Really?
The vision of the Monty Python knight, having lost various limbs, declaring it was “only a flesh wound” came to mind when I read our Prime Minister’s view of the state of trade with China. Peter Hartcher quotes him saying: “There can be a lot of diplomatic atmospherics, but at the end of the day the relationship is still going on.“
And this in the context of Hartcher’s comment that “China’s government has imposed coercive restrictions on Australian exports of beef, barley, wine, thermal coal, copper, cotton, seafood, sugar and timber, and warned students and tourists against travel to Australia because of the danger of violent racism”. Did Scott Morrison really pass Spin 101?
Maurie Trewhella, Hoppers Crossing
Why we need to handle China with ’kid gloves’
China is waving its arms and showing menacing teeth, yet it should occur to our own mandarins that this is just posturing. Some of our cabinet ministers have endorsed the “drums of war” rhetoric of a senior, if obtuse, senior public servant. They would be better off pointing out how much the 400 billionaire families who have indirect and sometimes direct control of major companies in China would lose if hostilities broke out.
China is certainly no paper tiger. The armaments are very real, but it is beset with self-contradictions and hypocrisy. A socialist state that is a haven for-hyper capitalism needs to be handled with kid gloves.
Richard Campbell, Brighton
A balance between assertion and respect
Penny Wong exhibits a natural ability for patience and respectful diplomacy towards obstinate foreign governments such as China (Opinion, 20/5). Whilst the alpha-male hubris and hyperbole of Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton dangerously escalate the tension, she stays calm and favours de-escalating tensions with China as the best way to maintain dialogue and pursue co-operative outcomes. This does not mean Australia should acquiesce to China’s coercive behaviours, but panicked, sledgehammer responses will have far less success than using persuasion and respect.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South
Danger in taking an accommodating approach
I am sorry, Senator Penny Wong, but the edited text of your speech sounds more like accommodation than diplomacy. Playground bullies rarely respond to waffling pleas for more engagement. Whiffs of Neville Chamberlain 85 years ago?
Alan Cane, Frankston South
Our right to speak up in defence of Taiwan
Does treading carefully with China mean that we, the Australian people, must pretend that we are not 100per cent behind Taiwan’s ever-continuing independence as a nation?
Barry Lamb, Heidelberg West
Business can afford it
Big businesses (The Age, 21/5) are complaining about a paltry 0.5per cent payroll tax surcharge (announced in the Victorian budget) which is chicken feed for those with payrolls of more than $10million. With that wages bill, their turnovers will be at least $20million, and the surcharge will only be $50,000 – ie, 0.25per cent of turnover and, in most cases, a fraction of the JobKeeper subsidies from which they profited.
Rob Rogers, Warrandyte
Ways to dodge the tax
Treasurer Tim Pallas plans to raise taxes on businesses with payrolls of more than $10million. Most businesses of this size have a structure of a head office in Victoria and satellite offices around Australia. When they do their business planning into the future, all they have to do is make one of their satellite offices their head office and this will avoid the tax increase.
Regarding the increase in stamp duty on homes over $2million: people can buy interstate. Socialism only works if the money generator stays in your field of taxation.
Roger Wolfe, Balwyn
A very double standard
I find it disingenuous that Harvey Norman founder Gerry Harvey should complain about the upcoming 0.5per cent levy on payrolls over $10 million, given that his company used the federal government’s JobKeeper payments last year to help pay its wages. It has since transpired that Harvey Norman really did not need that assistance.
Alan Becker, Illowa
Clarify the exemptions
Tim Pallas has increased land tax and stamp duty. However, universities in Victoria, which own huge land holdings and continually acquire more, are exempt from both taxes. They are businesses, not charities, so why the exemptions?
George Greenberg, Malvern
I feel sorry for Nicholas Cails (Letters, 18/5) who earns $31 an hour as a disability support worker. Try earning $22 an hour as a personal care worker in aged care and being totally undervalued because you are not a nurse.
Helen Parker, Greenhill
I have been involved in several projects that had grants from the federal government. In each case a detailed proposal was required and every dollar granted had to be accounted for. Any proposed change to what had been funded had to be negotiated with Canberra.
If aged care were funded this way, there would not be huge profits going to some providers. This kind of transparency would also show where there was a legitimate need for further funding, including decent wages for aged care workers. It could show how much was going to contract hire companies rather than workers, and to what extent this contributes to low wages. There would be genuine accountability which is what taxpayers expect. And another royal commission would not be needed in a few years time.
Jan Thomas, North Melbourne
Leaders swayed by polls
It is unbelievable that 73per cent of Australians support the closure of overseas borders, according to a Newspoll. We laughed at Yes Minister’s witty lines like: “Is that what my constituents think? I’m their leader, I must follow”. Sadly, this is no longer a joke, as it has become the modus operandi of our Prime Minister (and the majority of premiers). Oh, how I long for courageous, wise leaders with vision reaching further than the next election.
Aila Copland, Mornington
Security of protection
My husband and I have both had our first jab and it has taken a great weight off our minds. We have family and friends in the US who are recovering from COVID-19 and it is deeply concerning hearing about the many ways some of them are struggling with the long-term effects. Statistically the chances of blood clots is far less than the chances of long-term health issues arising from catching COVID-19. The federal government is negligent in not running an informed campaign.
Anne Maki, Alphington
Learning from our past
My appreciation goes to Stephen Duckett for his excellent article regarding vaccine hesitancy and opening our borders (Opinion, 20/5). There is one other possibility for consideration and this is a lesson from the past.
Australia was able to remain smallpox-free from the the 1930s due to the policy of compulsory smallpox vaccination of all persons entering our country – both new arrivals and returning travellers. Those extremely small number of people who were not able to be vaccinated for health reasons went into compulsory quarantine. Hence our long period of freedom from smallpox until its global elimination in 1979.
Dr Jillian Grogan, Albert Park
Why many are ’baulking’
The media beats up the extremely small dangers of the AstraZeneca vaccine, then headlines the information that “almost a third baulk at COVID vaccination” (The Age, 19/5). What else did they expect?
Patsy Sanaghan, North Geelong
Let’s follow NSW’s lead
What a contrast NSW offers in managing to “stay safe”. Nearly all venues ask to see the tick on the Service NSW app, proving we have checked in, before they take orders. Their app permits one person to add “dependents” (companions), thereby simplifying the process. And it is all reinforced by messages aimed primarily at the businesses, informing them of fines for non-compliance. It seems that none of these aspects are evident in Victoria. Why?
Ian Benjamin, Brighton East
Where is everyone?
That must have been Scott Morrison I saw leaning over the balcony of the Royal Exhibition Building. He was gazing down at the nearly vacant vaccination booths below, looked very puzzled and muttering: “Where the bloody hell are they?“
Margaret Harrison, Clifton Hill
Right idea, wrong site
As a mother who lost a son to a drug overdose in the city several years ago, I would have been first in the queue to have a drug-injecting room open at that time. It could have saved his life. He left a regional centre to go to Melbourne to source drugs.
However, the Degraves Street precinct is not the right choice for such a facility, however discreet it may be from the street. The amount of foot traffic going to and fro will be evident amongst all the families using Flinders Street Station and all the people who buy lunch in Degraves Street. A “recipe for disaster” (Letters, 21/5) indeed. Our CBD is still reeling from a lack of office workers and commuters to support businesses. Our traders need to survive. Please find another city venue that is more appropriate.
Name and suburb withheld
An impossible cost
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge wants Australians to know more about their Western heritage (The Age, 20/5). Is that why he increased the cost of degrees in classics and history?
Peter Davis, Magill, SA
Investing the Australian community’s hard-earned money in new gas fields and facilities is a wickedly cynical and immoral act, especially in light of the International Energy Agency (and all other climate and business experts) agreeing that the continued use of fossil fuels is having devastating consequences on our world. It is also uneconomic.
This government acts as the ideological representative of the fossil fuel industry, certainly not in the longer-term interests of Australia. It will face the consequences of it actions, if not in the ballot box then in the future human rights courts of the world.
Jen Evans, Blackburn South
Facing up to the future
The school kids are striking again, accepting the science of climate change and taking responsibility for their futures. In contrast, the Morrison government ignores the science and announces a new gas-fired power station as it clings to the fossil fuel industry like a baby clutching its mother’s breast.
Chris Young, Surrey Hills
AND ANOTHER THING
Credit:Illustgration: Matt Golding
With science, technology, economy and common sense screaming renewable, only fossil fools would waste $600 million on a gas power plant.
Charles Laycock, Castlemaine
Frightening. Uneconomic. For Morrison, the Kurri Kuri gas generator must be an offering. For planet Earth, its harakiri.
Andrew Gunner, Brunswick West
Scott Morrison says he will not take risks with Australians’ lives, yet does nothing to reduce the dangers of climate change.
Vikki O’Neill, Ashburton
Three certainties in life: death, taxes and negative responses from opposition parties to budgets.
Catherine Healion, Seaford
Pallas’ budget reminds me of the economic shambles of the Cain-Kirner government’s final years.
Martin Newington, Aspendale
From trickle down to shakedown.
Robyn Hewitt, Carlton North
The LNP selection process (21/5): some people are chosen by God, others are chosen if they can drink more beer than their rivals.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
Last year Scott hammered the states to open borders for the economy. Now that borders are his responsibility, he’s missing in action.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen
Surely a marketing guru could run a “have a vaccine” campaign. Offer free sporting tickets as an incentive.
Stan Marks, McKinnon
Old people are voting with their arms.
Teresa McIntosh, Keysborough
Would you like chips or ice cream with your vaccine?
Peter Caffin, North Ringwood
The government should divert some of the money currently being spent on encouraging people to get tested to a campaign encouraging them to be vaccinated.
Neale Woods, Wattle Glen
Build quarantine facilities at Avalon and Mickleham. We’ll need both to get everyone home.
John Walsh, Watsonia
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