Training idea invokes memories of Vietnam

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Training idea invokes memories of Vietnam
So, the Albanese government may consider sending ADF personnel to train Ukrainian soldiers somewhere in Europe (“Australia considers training Ukrainian troops overseas”, The Age, 12/10). For those old enough, the memories of the beginnings of our involvement in the Vietnam War loom large.

Although most people support Ukraine’s struggle against Vladimir Putin’s attempts to drag Ukraine back into the Russian fold, what the government is considering is a step too far.

While it is heartbreaking to watch the suffering unfolding in Ukraine, our government must refrain from committing us to participating in a long-term and seemingly unwinnable war. We’ve seen the consequences in Iraq and Afghanistan, where years of conflict achieved little.

There are many instances of oppression and injustice around the world. We cannot fix them all by intervention. Moral support, humanitarian aid, diplomatic assistance through organisations such as the United Nations and the supply of military hardware should be the limit of our involvement.
Graeme Lechte, Brunswick West

A ludicrous suggestion
Nothing could be more ludicrous than the suggestion that Australia could train Ukrainian troops.

Australia is not a member of NATO or any other alliance that is legitimately involved in the Ukraine war, we just have a long-standing predilection to commit our troops to conflicts that are not our responsibility.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Diplomacy must be made to work
Several of your correspondents have suggested that getting rid of Vladimir Putin will be a pathway to resolving the war in Ukraine.

This is naive. There is a powerful faction in the Kremlin and the Russian elite that think Putin is not going hard enough and would support the use of nuclear weapons. The latest horrific move to intensify the war, installing a ruthless general as the head of the military campaign and targeting civilians, can be seen as an attempt to appease this faction.

If Putin is removed at the present time it would probably be at the bidding of these extremists. This could cause the already deadly situation to spiral right out of control and have terrible consequences for Russia itself. It is not easy to see a way out – the world is in a catch-22 type situation. Somehow diplomacy must be made to work.
Bob Malseed, Hawthorn

In no position to criticise
Retired Australian major-general Mick Ryan (“A master at the art of atrocity”, Comment, 12/10) criticises the Russians because they “are unable to beat the Ukrainian military so instead they resort to murdering civilians ion the streets”. This tactic presumably explains the bombings of Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War Two, the bombing of Serbia, the “shock and awe” bombing of Baghdad and the drone strikes in Afghanistan.

Australia has participated in or aided and abetted the perpetrators “murdering civilians” in these wars. Neither Mick Ryan, Australia nor its allies is in a position to criticise Russia for using these tactics or committing atrocities, but Mick Ryan is correct when he says that “There is something repulsive in a military culture that embraces such solutions” (repeatedly).
Peter Martina, Warrnambool

The West emboldened Putin
Former US president Barack Obama and former German chancellor Angela Merkel both must share some of the responsibility for the Ukraine war.

When in 2014, Russia invaded Crimea, only half-hearted economic sanctions were applied to Russia by the West. And even after the 2014 invasion, Merkel still pursued policies of increasing Germany’s energy dependence on Russian gas supplies.

It is no surprise that Vladimir Putin must have been emboldened by the tepid responses of Obama and Merkel to his earlier unjustifiable conquest of Crimea.
Dennis Walker, North Melbourne


Dutton’s opportunity
Everyone, including the government and (I suspect) the opposition, knows the stage three tax cuts should not proceed given the current state of the economy.

However, Anthony Albanese also knows that if he does defer or cancel them, the opposition will immediately accuse him of not keeping an election promise and once again raise their old claim of Labor being bad economic managers, even though the current situation occurred almost solely while the Coalition was in government.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is widely disliked in the electorate and disrespected for many actions and decisions he made while in government. One way he could start to rehabilitate his standing in the community would be to acknowledge publicly that changed conditions make the cuts unwise and that his party will support their abandonment as responsible economic management. We might just then start to consider him in a different light.
David Parker, Geelong West

If you earn more …
I am fortunate to be a high-income earner and I don’t need a tax cut. I would prefer the money to go to improved services.

I would, however, like discussion about tax cuts to be underpinned by logic. Repeated references to how much a tax cut is worth to someone on, say, $200,000 vs $62,000 display a lack of understanding, or perhaps a wilful misrepresentation, of our tax system.

We have a progressive tax system, so, quite appropriately, the wealthy pay a higher percentage of their income in tax than do lower earners. The flipside of this is that a tax cut will be worth more, in dollar terms, to high-income earners.

You can’t get much of a tax cut if you don’t pay much tax.
David Olive, Kensington

Try being direct
The Labor government is struggling to handle its tax cut policy (“Torn between which promises to break”, Letters 12/10), a promise they feel uncomfortable with and which doesn’t appear to stack up anyway.

Their tactic so far is to procrastinate and bandy around a variety of econometric terms (e.g. fiscal responsibility, aggregate inflation, persistent structural pressures) that are not at all intelligible to most households, taxpayers and voters.

They could try a direct approach, like: “Despite our previous plans it doesn’t look like we can afford all of the proposed tax cuts.” At least most could relate to that.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Cause for great concern
The public commentary by the Victorian Inspectorate’s Eamonn Moran regarding IBAC’s staggering behaviour in omitting to scrutinise the “unwillingness by police to act against their own in cases of domestic violence” is cause for great concern, because the system that is designed to hold (in this instance) police officers (both the perpetrator and his colluders) accountable was missing in action, to the grave detriment of a victim of domestic violence (“IBAC handling of violent policeman investigation ‘a failing of integrity system’”, The Age, online, 11/10).

Moreover, that it took the media spotlight – “two years later” – for IBAC to have an epiphany of the “seriousness of the systemic issues and conflicts of interest raised in the initial complaint” indicates that but for the public interest story, a person’s harrowing ordeal would have gone unnoticed and buried by the institutional power holders for reputational preservation.

And, as put well by the victim, if Premier Daniel Andrews “cannot even acknowledge the harm done or show any willingness to change the system”, the ongoing blind side will ensure nothing changes and there will be more victims of egregious systemic failings in future.
Jelena Rosic, Mornington

Who’d want the job now?
How will Victorians ever get another competent professional to accept the position of chief health officer?

The downgrading of the position by the Andrews government will ensure that Brett Sutton, who served Victoria so well during the worst of the pandemic, will move on, and that no competent professional will want to work in a position that has been so downgraded that the premier of the state does not have to seek their opinion on such a serious matter as ending isolation for what is still a serious public disease.

Our public health situation deserves better than for politicians to decide the public health rules.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

Softening us up
The power companies have warned us to expect power price increases next year of about 35 per cent (“Gas companies on notice over prices”, The Age, 12/10).

I suspect that this figure is a few points higher than their true expectation. When we are faced with a rise of say 28 per cent, we will experience a bit of relief.

A similar situation happens with developers. They want to build a 12-storey apartment block so they submit an application for 16 storeys and then reduce their request to 12 after the predictable outcry. Application granted, happy developers and a false victory for the residents.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood

More power to women
Nick Bryant’s incisive article rightly laments the continuing plague of mediocre male leaders in Australia, the US and Britain (“Why global leaders can be duds”, Comment, 13/10).

In an Australian political context, this talent void has now thankfully been tilted, both by default and genuine ability, towards women. Australia, for more than a generation, has been damaged by a plethora of Coalition conservative male non-achievers prone to conspiracy theories around climate change and resistance to intellectual and forward-thinking policies in relation to the university sector.

It is to be hoped that the “teal” phenomenon has staying power, and that women with progressive instincts can now realise this nation’s untapped potential.

It is surely time now for young versions of Julia Gillard to dominate the parliamentary benches across the chamber in Canberra: grounded, sharp thinkers with empathy across the socioeconomic spectrum.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Why is this still allowed?
It’s disappointing that Milly Formby’s epic microlight aircraft journey to highlight the plight of our shorebirds seems to have gone under the radar (“Migratory mission takes in a bird’s-eye view”, 11/10). Who knew of the bar-tailed godwit, bird record-holder for an astonishing nine-day, 13,000-kilometre non-stop flight from Alaska to the southern hemisphere? These plucky birds lose half their body weight in transit.

The Andrews government ranks this feathered champion seventh out of 39 threatened waterbirds most vulnerable to disturbance by Victorian duck shooters. A 2019 taxpayer-funded report acknowledged our migratory shorebirds should not be disturbed because they need to “feed voraciously” to maximise their chances of making it back to the northern hemisphere and successfully breeding there.

So why is duck shooting still allowed near vital feeding grounds for migratory shorebirds?
Joan Reilly, Surrey Hills

Backward steps
Thirty-plus years ago, when my first wife needed to see medical specialists, we had no problem getting appointments, and when it became apparent she needed to see a neurologist, again we had no problem.

Thirty-plus years on and I need to see a neurologist but getting an appointment is like finding hen’s teeth. And they call this progress. The sad thing is if I was a prominent football player, I would probably get an appointment tomorrow.
John Cummings, Anglesea

Follow their lead
All over Melbourne, possibly at this very minute, vehicles are sitting at red lights, waiting to turn left into empty traffic lanes, while their engines pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Not so in Vancouver, Canada, where the equivalent right turn on a red light is allowed.

If a motorist here can stop at a stop sign (as some do) and then turn left safely, why can’t the same be done at a red light? It’s time we emulated our Canadian cousins.
Bill Varney, Beaumaris

At last, some choice
Although many believe the state election is “in the bag” for Daniel Andrews and his government, the people of Victoria in fact have a very clear choice in November.

Promises regarding public transport are all well and good, but what is really important is a serious commitment to freedom and democracy. Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has clearly stated that Victorians will never again be locked down or locked out of their own state. The right to free speech and the right to protest will be enshrined and a state of disaster or an emergency declaration will be limited to 30 days.

Considering the Andrews government has a record of scant regard for democratic freedoms and personal liberty, hope is dawning at last that change may be on the horizon.
Peter Curtis, Werribee South

Sugar hit doesn’t help
Chris Wallace is right to ask where the Australian versions of Elon Musk are and to encourage the media to focus more on industry, technology and innovation to help create the conditions for them to emerge (“The question mark over our future”, Comment, 13/10).

She’s right to talk about the impoverished nature of public debate, but the sugar hit of easy investment returns via indulgent negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions also contributes to a risk-averse investment community in Australia.

Likewise, the lack of competition in many of our industries, most of which have near monopoly levels of power, provides little incentive to innovate. Reduce the concessions and enable much better competition, and then see what happens.
Gill Riley, Doncaster East

Against the tide
In abandoning the state’s pandemic restrictions, I do hope the premier isn’t throwing the (public health) baby out with the (pandemic) bath water (“Andrews did not seek Sutton advice”, 13/10).

The health system is already swimming against a high enough tide without needing any political flotsam added to the mix.
Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale


The Palmer party
Who needs policies when you have the money of Clive Palmer?
Bryan Lewis, Saint Helena


“Nothing substantive should be done without absolute bipartisanship” says the state opposition (“Libs push for say in hiring of corruption agency chief”, The Age, 13/10), which had no qualms about unilaterally signing multibillion-dollar contracts a couple of months before it lost office.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick

It’s probably time for Brett Sutton to find a new job – the government obviously doesn’t need him for advice on health matters.
Brian Morley, Donvale

There must be a few “Back in the Black” mugs left to remind us of how well governments can see into the future.
Kevan Porter, Alphington

Are the Victorian Liberals trying to gift seats to the teals to rein in the power of Daniel Andrews?
Joan Segrave, Healesville

I have just arrived back from a trip to Canberra and it seems that ACT and NSW drivers are also suffering from an epidemic of wheel-destroying potholes. Clearly Victoria is not alone.
David Eames-Mayer, Balwyn

Now that we are approaching “car normal”, will the mandates regarding seatbelts, speed limits, blood alcohol levels, red lights and driver’s licences be dropped in favour of individual responsibility?
Lee Naish, Brunswick West

There well may be Picassos and many other artworks on a dead planet (And another thing, 12/10), there just won’t be any people to look at them.
Sandra Torpey, Hawthorn

“If you don’t have friends of colour, then that’s a red flag” (Comment, 13/10) certainly raises a red flag – the red flag of judgmentalism, and condemnation of those who don’t fit a certain paradigm of perceived righteous inclusiveness.
Susan Caughey, Glen Iris

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