UKRAINE: On a small planet, the ripples of war fan out

Credit:Cathy Wilcox

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We are all alarmed at the brutal aggression shown by Vladimir Putin and his army in Ukraine. Putin doesn’t care about Ukrainian civilians or how many young Russian soldiers’ lives are lost. He has only this obsession about Ukraine, rooted in the Stalinist era when more than a million Ukrainians died at the hands of the Russians. Is this the kinship Putin refers to?
What will it take for the West to end his invasion of Ukraine – chemical warfare, biological warfare, a tactical nuclear strike or a million Ukraine dead? We don’t want war but we have it. They are hard decisions. This has gone on long enough and as the Ukrainians continue to hold out, Putin will only become increasingly desperate.
In 1914, my then 18-year-old grandfather dropped everything and went to the aid of Europe, fortunately surviving with only minor physical injuries but mentally scarred by the horrors he witnessed.
I would go if asked, in a medical capacity. We all live on only one small planet. Everything affects everything else.
Dr Grant Brace, Templestowe

Declaring Putin a war criminal will do nothing
The Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, appears to have no concept of our position in the world or any idea of diplomacy. Australia is a small nation occupying a very large continent. She cannot afford to continue to tweak the tail of any leader as she feels fit. Australia suffered from her unguarded opinion of China; coming out to declare Vladimir Putin a war criminal will have no impact on Putin, and is a stupid move.
Can Australia find someone more au fait with diplomacy and how the system works? Certainly not Defence Minister Peter Dutton, who has the same foot-in-mouth disease. Much can be accomplished if some finesse is used. Enough of the shirt front and more of the actual use of the diplomatic possibilities.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

Madness is as madness does
One of Joseph Stalin’s biographers, Simon Sebag Montefiore (21/3), believes that Vladimir Putin is not mad, just trying to recreate the Russian empire of the 18th century and to fix his name forever as a great Russian empire builder. Surely this must be madness in itself.
Michael Meszaros, Alphington

The world must stand with Ukraine
There are some people who are prepared to abandon and sacrifice Ukraine in the hope it will satisfy the Putin regime and bring a sort of peace to the country and region. But we should not forget that Putin already had taken eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and that didn’t stop his plans to subjugate Ukraine.
What if Putin, after getting his way in Ukraine, carries out further aggressions. What country do we give up next – little Moldavia to appease him and then afterwards the Baltic states? Slovakia? At what point do we stop giving him what he demands and stand up to the vile, cruel tyrant? When are dignity, democracy, independence and being able to live without brutal occupation worth fighting for? How much can we sacrifice and how many innocent people’s lives and liberty are we prepared to give up in an attempt to pacify Putin?
The Ukrainian people have chosen to fight, suffer and die for democracy rather than live under Russian dictatorship, to live in freedom rather than accept Putin’s fascist regime. Those of us living in other Western democracies can show how much we care by supporting the Ukrainians. They are paying a truly terrible cost for defending freedom and democracy. We must stand firmly with Ukraine.
Steven Katsineris, Hurstbridge

‘Not crazy’ after all these tears
So Vladimir Putin’s not crazy at all (The Age, 21/3). Could not a desire to return to Russian glory be seen as delusions of grandeur, not to mention megalomania or even a psychotic genocide?
Paul Murchison, Kingsbury


The bigger picture
The predominant narrative of increasing mental health difficulties in Australian youth inevitably leads to a solution in the form of increased resources and spending. In the current environment this is unarguable, unless one is willing to adopt the vilified position of Oliver Twist’s affluent master exclaiming “more?” What is hidden within this discourse, however, is another form of crisis, the objectification of human distress and the industrialisation of the health care response.
How many psychologists or psychiatrists will ever be enough? Do we need to give credence to broader ways of thinking? Surely it is possible to link the crisis of youth mental health with the very world we live in. On face value, it does not appear easy for youth to genuinely find a place – certainly not in affordable housing, stable valued employment or an acknowledgment of the strength of their personal values over their productive value. Perhaps rather than just subcontracting mental health to “fix it”, we should address the question as how we live our lives has consequences for those with less experience, resources or opportunity?
Dr Alex Holmes, Consultant
Psychiatrist and Associate Professor, Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Melbourne

Generations of health
Why is youth mental health such a big issue today? I was in primary school in World War II. We had a bomb shelter in our backyard, no lights could be shown at night, food and fuel was rationed, Darwin was bombed, invasion seemed imminent, Japanese subs were in Sydney Harbour, an alert was in place at Point Cook, and at school we had frequent air raid drills to race outside and shelter behind bushes, etc. with ear plugs and mouth guards in.
There was no evidence of ″⁣mental illness″⁣. Sure we had anxieties, but we just got on with life. That was the expectation. Is a significant cause of the problem today that an expectation has been created in children that they will have ″⁣mental health″⁣ problems instead of coping with life?
John Weymouth, Ringwood East

The PM’s personas
Scott Morrison says he knows that Anthony Albanese is “not Peter Malinauskas … he’s not Annastacia Palaszczuk. He’s none of these other premiers. He’s the federal Labor leader.″⁣ Of course Scott Morrison is not a fireman, not a rescue worker, not a truck driver, not a mop pusher, not a hairdresser or a welder, nor is he a musician. And this list is not fully comprehensive, just a few of the personas Morrison tries to project. I can’t wait for him to carry some coal to Ukraine.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Federal concerns
I was in my teens for the last six or seven years of Tom Playford’s 26-year “reign” as South Australian premier, I regard Steven Marshall as the state’s best Liberal premier since Playford. Although in Melbourne since 1997, I have followed political developments at home and was heartened at the resurgence under Marshall. Admittedly his privatisation of public transport was a wrong turn and ambulance response times blew out but neoliberalism always comes at a price paid by the poor.
Still, Marshall’s leadership through the pandemic, fundamental decency and respectful relationships with his political opponents were within the “Paradise of Dissent″⁣ traditions of our most egalitarian state. Essentially, Marshall lost because too many South Australians were appalled at the Morrison’s government’s grotesquely minimalist action on climate change, avoidance of transparency and accountability, endemic sexism and promotion of tax rorts that favour the well-off.
Throw in the PM’s relentless self-promotion in a state where self-effacement is still regarded as a virtue (Don Dunstan, a genuine class act excepted) and you have the legion of hose holders in the country’s driest state wanting to lead the chance to flush out arguably the country’s most narrow and self-serving government ever.
John Carmichael, Hawthorn

Rein in the money
I have just watched another Clive Palmer political ad on TV. It’s scary to see individuals using their wealth to manipulate our democracy. Isn’t it time to limit an individual’s financial influence on our electoral system?
Colin Mason, Mornington

The crude answer
In 2008 crude oil hit over $140 a barrel. ULP was $1.43 at the pump. From 2010 to 2013 crude held steady at about $110 a barrel. ULP was $1.45 at the pump. In 2022 crude has hit $108 a barrel. Why is ULP $2.30 at the pump?
Are they having us on? Is it more costly to refine crude now in this modern era? The ACCC has looked into oil prices every now and then and has never found anything wrong. Please explain.
Peter Kerber, Great Western

Role models? No
Your correspondent (21/3) says, “Paul Keating and John Howard are now role models who strongly and successfully advocated for essential tax reform”. There is some truth there but it should not hide their patchy records; for example, Keating notoriously opposed John Hewson’s proposed GST and Howard introduced the dividend imputation rebate rort. Despite some achievements, neither should be considered a role model for rational economic reform.
James McDougall, Fitzroy North

Killing is not a sport
No Premier, shooting of native wildlife should not be allowed. By all means use guns to shoot feral animals such as cats and foxes that prey on our wildlife, but not defenceless birds. One can’t help but wonder at the mindset of those who gain pleasure from this. It is killing, it is not a sport.
Lee Palmer, Albert Park

Word of thanks
People will readily tell our political leaders what they are doing wrong. Heaven knows, I am happy to do so myself. However, I do believe in handing out praise when earned. Here in isolation, fighting off COVID, I have been amazed by the amount of support received from the Health Department. It has been proactive, broad-based and supportive. Well done VicHealth.
Jean Dunn, Balwyn North

Ssshhh, it’s a secret
Should Scott Morrison be advertising the location of our future submarine bases? Aren’t they meant to be secret? Shouldn’t they be under some hollowed-out island with a fake volcano and a hidden entrance and a big red button that blows it up? Peter Dutton looks like he would be perfectly at home in such a place.
Greg Walsh, Black Rock

The lowered hopes
Prime Minister, please don’t give me a wad of cash. Or promise me a tax cut. I have enough. I’d much rather feel that we were genuinely doing our bit to be good stewards of our planet, (well, at least attempting to make up for past ignorance and greediness) and being generous hosts to refugees, redressing past wrongs against Australian Indigenous peoples and caring properly for the unemployed, underemployed, mentally ill and the disabled.
I’m asking for sophistication on your part. I do not have high hopes. I’m afraid you and your team don’t have a very high opinion of the Australian populace.
Karen Morris, Newport

Cash better spent
Why is Victoria spending our money on a $1.7 billion Southbank arts plan? Surely this can be better spent to help the struggling healthcare system. Just ask the voters what they think.
Joy Campbell, Warranwood

Reef gladness
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority reports bleaching on most of the reef. The main cause is global warming and lack of corrective action from the current government (″⁣Severe coral bleaching along 500km reef section″⁣, The Age, 19/3).
An international monitoring mission has begun 10 days of assessing whether the reef is an ″⁣in-danger″⁣ World Heritage site or not. This is the best unbiased method for reaching such a verdict.
The authority’s chief David Wachenfeld reminds us: we need strong fast global decarbonising; the reef is resilient and ″⁣we must not lose hope for its long-term survival″⁣.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood

A war criminal, yes
Vladimir Putin testing his missiles on women and children confirms the man is a war criminal. Why did the Kremlin get upset then when Joe Biden called Putin a war criminal? The facts are evident for the world to see, the scenes of mass murder are on film, hundreds of witnesses stand ready with first-hand evidence to prove it, the scars and disabilities on children are in plain view for all to see. How much blood needs to be spilt before the rest of the world cries stop?
Keith Whiteside,
Sippy Downs, Qld

There’s mean men, too
It is interesting that some political reporters, despite all their supposed experience, fail to mention the “mean men” associated with the current government.
You only have to go through the record of issues relating to male parliamentary behaviour and see how these mean men responded. Nothing to see or hear there seems to be the response to issues raised, yet the way the press is highlighting the “mean women” is reprehensible. I would suggest the government, in a desperate situation, is raising any issue to attack the behaviour of women in opposition yet fails to address the behaviour of its own “mean men”.
Let us not forget the way Julia Banks was treated by the executive arm of government.
John Tingiri, Mornington

Still advancing unmasked
COVID experts have more faith in the mandating of masks on public transport than I have. Even the photo of people leaving and entering a train, accompanying the Age article (21/3), had four in masks and three without.
Kevan Porter, Alphington


Peter Malinauskas won by campaigning on a forward vision while Scott Morrison is out adjusting his rear-view mirror.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

In relation to the new SA Premier, he’s not Matthew Guy either, Scott Morrison.
Tim Durbridge, Brunswick

A high-speed rail link between Melbourne and Sydney anyone?
Peter Neuhold, Elsternwick

Mopping, shampooing, welding – almost time to kiss babies and tell election porkies.
Bernd Rieve, Brighton

Stuart Robert, acting Education Minister, might well consider the words of George Bernard Shaw: “He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That clearly points to a political career.“
Peter Russo, West Brunswick

Stuart Robert’s comments are a classic example of the arrogance of ignorance.
Ross Chadderton, Mount Waverley

When Stuart Robert talks about duds, we should listen. He speaks from personal experience.
Tony Lenten, Glen Waverley

If Putin is a war criminal then surely George Bush jnr, Tony Blair and John Howard are too.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

The world needs to ostracise Russia so that even China’s support can’t ameliorate the huge pain it causes.
John Walsh, Watsonia

Yet another mass bleaching event at the Great Barrier Reef, ahead of the UN delegation’s visit. How will the Coalition whitewash this one?
Jennie Irving, Camberwell

Could someone please tell me, what is the point of having cryptocurrency?
Brian Morley, Donvale

Would the ABC name the person who made the decision to move
Q+A from Monday to Thursday to compete against the AFL. Pure genius.
Allan Lowry, Brighton East

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