Learn from Cold War history
“The virus is a reputational disaster for China, as well as a health and economic one, with ordinary citizens now experiencing the impact of its actions around the world” (Karen Middleton, “Not exactly China plates”, April 25–May 1). And as usual the West is reacting in precisely the wrong way in setting China (and the World Health Organization) up as a global scapegoat. China cannot be let off the hook in an unprecedented global existential crisis. But we are making the same mistake we did with Russia after the Cold War, of kicking a proud (if not always justified) country when it is down, particularly one that has good historical reasons for resenting Western attitudes, encroachment, invasion, exploitation and humiliation over a long and unfortunate colonial period. By all means have an internationally convened investigation into the outbreak; we need it. But let’s make sure it really is independent and does not pre-empt its conclusions by singling out one country before it has even begun, effectively alienating that country and virtually guaranteeing poor or no co-operation. The Western international community and its neoliberal economic system has its own house to get in order after its collective shortcomings have been made abundantly clear by this pandemic. Let’s not make the mistake of further antagonising each other by attempting to deflect attention from our own failings in our effort to understand and deal with a crisis no one, on this planet we are slowly cooking, can escape blame for.
– Tor Larsen, Marrickville, NSW
Gadfly lands on answer
Is hypocrisy and selective amnesia a prerequisite for political leadership in this country? Anthony Albanese suggests Scott Morrison “put a knife in Malcolm Turnbull’s back” (Paul Bongiorno, “Bigger pictures, littler men”, April 25–May 1), reminding us his very own Labor Party catapulted backstabbing into an art form. The prime minister’s proposal that “the WHO be given powers akin to international weapons inspectors” (Karen Middleton, “Not exactly China plates”, April 25–May 1) is a poor comparison considering the dreadful outcome for the people of Iraq, after their findings were ignored. Gadfly has provided the answer (“Trumpette revived”, April 25–May 1). Both leaders suffer the “cognitive bias” known as the Dunning–Kruger effect.
– Carmelo Bazzano, Epping, Vic
WHO’s Abbott a put-up job
Gadfly (Richard Ackland) raises the issue of Alan Jones’s proposal that Tony Abbott, the “Mad Monk”, should replace Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as director-general of the UN’s World Health Organization (“New foe WHO dissed”, April 25–May 1). Mr Abbott may have risen to the exalted heights of Australia’s prime minister, but one struggles to find anything in his CV that would equip him for the world’s top medical job. Tedros is a microbiologist and internationally recognised malaria researcher, and was Ethiopia’s health minister from 2005 to 2012. He has a BSc in biology, an MSc in immunology of infectious diseases, and a PhD in community health, specialising in malaria. Mr Abbott has graduate qualifications in economics and law from the University of Sydney, and postgraduate qualifications in philosophy, politics and economics from Queen’s College, Oxford. His only claim to medical fame is a stint as John Howard’s minister for Health and Ageing , for which he allegedly showed little aptitude. Jones should reconsider.
– Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin, ACT
Minister has not earned our trust
It is worrying that the somewhat hapless Stuart Robert is the federal minister responsible for the introduction of a government coronavirus tracing app (Royce Kurmelovs, “A trace of danger”, April 25–May 1) . On the other hand, how many would sign up to a government-sponsored app if Peter Dutton instead had responsibility for encouraging its take-up?
– Sue Dyer, Downer, ACT
Behind the scenes of the tracing app
Just a “thank you” to Royce Kurmelovs. “A trace of danger” was informative and drew on sources that most of us don’t know about, particularly the link between the Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre (which supports the app) and its membership of and links to the federal enforcement agencies. It made me laugh in amazement.
– David Petrie, Portland, Vic
Greg Sheridan’s point well made
Memo to Richard Ackland (Gadfly, “Grouper Greg’s Aunty agony”, April 25–May 1): The decision by the High Court about Cardinal Pell might have gone contrary to your wishes, but that is how the law of this land works. Greg Sheridan was right in saying the ABC had been zeroing in prematurely on Cardinal Pell and its zeal proved to be misplaced. Snide and distracting comments are no alternative to the facts.
– John Colussi, Wahroonga, NSW
Ever since reading the short story “Bobby Moses” I’ve looked out for more of Tony Birch’s writing (Fiction, “The blood bank: a love story”, April 25–May 1). I would have a phobia about needles though, wouldn’t I?
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Setter gets better and better
So said my partner Chris – “Look at 3 down! He’s finally done it!” I had to look at his well-worked answer on the scrap paper as I’ve rarely been able to see through the mists of Mungo’s cryptic crossword – Mungo has his name in lights (The Cryptic, April 25–May 1). Thank you, Mungo, for keeping an inquiring mind busy for a few hours each Saturday!
– Meegan Ferguson, Ipswich, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 2, 2020.
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