Chris Wallace has said something I have been thinking for some time (“Maybe Peter Dutton’s just not that smart”, April 29–May 5). Continuing to treat women – half the adult population – as a special interest group is just dumb. Not listening to the Australian people before and during the last election and subsequent byelection is crazy. Either he is just a figurehead who behaves like anything other than a Marvel superhero, or he isn’t very smart. Then, of course, there is the Voice. The walkout on Kevin Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generations showed Dutton’s true nature and his belated apology for doing so was just as disingenuous. He doesn’t listen to his party room, the Australian people generally, or to Indigenous Australians in particular, despite his claims to the contrary. Apparently, he doesn’t pay attention to what is happening in parliament either. The other option is he is just the latest example of the Liberal Party’s adherence to the Peter principle.
– Geoff Nilon, Mascot, NSW
In Karen Middleton’s article (“Inside Labor’s Defence strategy”, April 29–May 5) we read that “with China’s posture becoming increasingly aggressive, the situation has changed”. But where is the evidence that China is militarily aggressive towards Australia? When the risk of invasion, presumably by China, is said to be “remote” – but not non-existent – China’s so-called “aggression” essentially refers to recent expansion of its defence capabilities. Why are they not entitled to do so, like any other country? There is apparently no suggestion that the United States’ massive and massively increasing defence spending can be called aggressive, when it outspends all of the total of all of the next 10 countries, including China. The US has about 800 bases in other countries and China has one in the Horn of Africa, at Djibouti, to protect its shipping against piracy. Any honest inquiry into aggression, in recent decades and much earlier, will soon find that no country comes near to the US. The US lobby and its influence on our defence elite has been reported on long since and we are to become more enmeshed with AUKUS. We continue to go along with Uncle Sam just as we have since World War II and seem set for another, even worse, disaster than Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
– Barry Stevens, Tura Beach, NSW
All for the US
Notwithstanding the government’s grand-sounding announcements, the new Strategic Defence Review bears all the appearances of having been prepared jointly by the Pentagon and the US State Department in conjunction with the CIA, without regard for Australia’s best interests. Stripped to its essentials, it has four aims: to confirm Australia as a huge military base for US forces; to lock Australia’s defence forces into those of the US; to have Australian taxpayers underwrite the US military-industrial complex by buying unnecessary and inordinately expensive military equipment – rockets and missiles et cetera – to protect US bases in Australia; and to continue the pursuit of the US agenda of damaging and disrupting the Chinese economy to the maximum extent by undermining Australia’s trading relationship with China, on which all Australians depend for their welfare and prosperity.
– Barry Fox, South Melbourne, Vic
Here we are in the 2020s but stuck in the past when we read of the thoughts behind the Defence Strategic Review. Yes, we were threatened from the north and yes the US was our close military friend but – that was the 1940s. Mention of strengthening our northernmost reaches seems not to understand that any external threat would surely concentrate on our eastern flank, which contains the big cities Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, set to be prime targets to demoralise our citizenry. But did you not notice that elephant standing beside you? Forget about further enriching the global armaments industries and get on and urgently counter Australia’s and the world’s greatest threat, both short and long-term, which is climate change.
– Robert William Auld, Pasadena
I was deeply saddened to read Gavin Oakes’s letter (“Lack of power”, April 29–May 5) as to why he will vote “No” to the Voice. It is a great example of how the perfect is the enemy of the good. How he imagines that voting down the Voice will lead to anything other than the complete abandonment for another generation of any real recognition and reconciliation with Indigenous Australians is beyond me. Did we learn nothing from the republic debacle? The same applies to those who think that voting down the Voice will create an opportunity for a Treaty, or Blak Sovereignty, or reserved Indigenous seats in parliament, or any other “more perfect” proposal. None of these are incompatible with the Voice, but they will all be completely off the table if the Voice is voted down.
– Tim Sprod, Taroona, Tas
Martin McKenzie-Murray’s “From the ashes” (April 29–May 5) was reflective journalism at its best – vivid, moving and compassionate. McKenzie-Murray successfully expresses the inexpressible by drawing with characteristic style and insight the silent burden of war experiences that people such as his grandfather had somehow to carry for a lifetime. In the denouement there is love, even quirky humour. His virtuoso prose brings light and humanity out of the ashes.
– Daniel Dennis, New Farm, Qld
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 6, 2023.
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