Despite rancour, a nuanced and penetrating analysis

Credit:Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Despite rancour, a nuanced and penetrating analysis

Paul Keating may have his own reasons for firing a rancorous broadside at members of his party, but the intemperate delivery should not obscure an intuitive analysis of Chinese and American relations which remains as sharp as ever. It is fairly evident that China tends to favour oblique forms of aggression (furthering its ambitions by creating economic dependency is one of its clearest manifestations). On the other hand, the United States is the country with a long history of fighting wars on foreign shores.

In this light, Keating’s assessment of AUKUS as a colossal mistake seems more nuanced and penetrating than it might at first appear, with the US and its allies committing themselves to a potential conflict that China may or may not want, but almost certainly will not initiate.
Oliver Dennis, Armadale

Failure to recognise when to leave the public stage

Surely Paul Keating, who has shared significant time in the spotlight, must have realised the distaste by the general public for his support for Chinese exceptionalism. At times this seems to appear against the national interest. To attack Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Defence Minister Richard Marles on their perceived lack of judgment condemns Keating to an isolationist and distant position to the rest of us. It is a gift of life to understand when to leave the public stage.
Robert McCulloch, Melbourne

A recognition of the threat Australia faces

I thoroughly agree with former prime minister Paul Keating’s comments on China and the nuclear submarine deal. The deal provokes China and makes Australia a tool of US foreign policy. China is building up its defences in response to American actions.
Claire Busse, Ballarat

Political parties need to have dissenting views

I welcome Paul Keating’s contribution to the debate on submarines. Many people in the Labor Party, and in the wider community, are deeply concerned about the huge amount of money being spent on arms and wonder how much of a real threat China poses. It is good that there are voices of an opposite view. Labor also has Labor for Refugees and Labor for Climate Change, which have different views to the party’s accepted policies.

If more respected Liberals had voiced their concerns about pork barrelling, the failure to implement the agedcare royal commission’s recommendations and robo-debt, instead of blindly backing Scott Morrison, the Liberals might still be in power.
Wendy Logan, Croydon North

Keating, still the master of the withering phrase

When Paul Keating was in office, one of The Age’s journalists wrote, “he has a turn of phrase that would shrivel a landscape”. Brilliant. In relation to his comments about Penny Wong, it seems he has not lost his touch.
Mandy Morgan, Malvern

Times have changed and vitriol does not work

Paul Keating is like the strongman football coaches of last century: they may have been knowledgeable tacticians back then, but the game has changed. Personal attacks and vitriol do not work any more, despite the quotable quotes.
Peter Russo, Brunswick West


All power to Trump

AUKUS was an expensive attempt by the Coalition government to wedge Labor. The last thing Labor wanted was to have the last election fought on national security, and it believed it had no alternative but to offer bipartisanship.

So now we are irretrievably enmeshed into US foreign policy, which has little to do with the defence of Australia and everything to do with the containment of China and maintenance of US technical and military superiority.

But AUKUS and Australia’s acquisition of nuclear submarines may well be cancelled by a re-elected Donald Trump, who has a history of trashing alliances and an aversion to the export of US technology. I never thought the day would come when I would see merit in Trump being re-elected as president.
John Lambrick, Malvern

Clarify subs’ deployment

The publicity surrounding AUKUS and nuclear-powered submarines has been immense. The focus has been on the billions of dollars being spent and the type of subs the government plans to transition to. History says that much is likely to change with some of that “projected detail”.

Notwithstanding security and diplomacy issues, is it not reasonable to hear more about the rationale for this defence strategy and how it is expected to play out. I would like to know how these subs will be deployed in the defence of Australia, in which envisioned scenarios, and their deployment in the event of a conflict involving the United States and China.
Charles Griss, Balwyn

We’re aiding our ’enemy’

If China is such a threat to Australia, why are we selling it all the natural resources it needs to build the capability to attack Australia?
Pauline Ashton, Maribyrnong

Why so many of us …

As a long-time listener to ABC Melbourne, I find the slide in ratings and audience disappointing but not surprising (The Age, 17/3). The premier morning show is now compressed into a shorter time frame, allowing less talk and interview time for issues of the day. The last hour is given over to city/country conversation which, if sometimes interesting, is hardly “must listen” radio.

While the hosts are talented and work hard to stay “news relevant”, in many timeslots the station has lost its compelling, agenda-setting edge along with its ability to attract state and federal politicians and star-power guests.

It no longer holds the powers that be to account in the way it once did. Add in the ever changing mash-up of talking heads and, though many of us want to stay loyal to ABC Melbourne, it is increasingly easy to roam the dial.
Sally Holdsworth, Malvern East

… have deserted the ABC

As a rusted-on listener of ABC radio for many years, lately I found myself changing the station most of the time. This is because I get bored with the dearth of challenging, stimulating, contentious issues being discussed.

I am obviously not the only one, as your article says “the problem might not lie with getting people to tune in so much as keeping them there”. We tune to ABC to be intellectually stimulated and challenged by interesting topics discussed by intelligent people, with which we are happy to agree or otherwise. And we do not find it on the ABC these days.
George Fernandez, Eltham North

Explaining the time lag

I find it strange that the past four times I have applied online for a rebate from Medicare via a link from MyGov, I received it the day after I complained about the time it was taking to process. In one case it took two weeks, another took three weeks, and then all the outstanding claims were processed at once. However, when a claim is made directly from a practitioner, the rebate is processed immediately. Why is this so?
Vicki Jordan, Lower Plenty

The cost of productivity

Treasurer Jim Chalmers complains the non-market sector, which includes the care economy, has averaged zero productivity growth since 2000 (The Age, 16/3). Should doctors increase their “productivity” by seeing more patients per day, and spending less time on each of them? Should aged-care homes look after more residents with fewer staff? The concept of productivity is dubious when we talk about caring for people.
Chris Slee, Coburg

Keeping prices in check

When inflation is caused by excess demand, raising interest rates to reduce it generally works. But when it is caused primarily from the supply side – eg, a pandemic, floods, the war in Ukraine – raising rates is less effective and slower.

If the Reserve Bank reduces inflation (without causing a recession), it will have been due the huge sacrifices forced on those with large loans. The rest of us will enjoy the benefits (of more stable prices) without having made any sacrifices.

The RBA hopes its policy will cause softening in the labour market. But that is not happening, maybe because more people are entering it (taking second jobs, or both parents employed) in order to meet mortgage repayments. There must be a better way to stop companies raising prices. Perhaps the government ought to introduce a version of the Whitlam government’s Prices Justification Tribunal.
Peter Harkness, economist, Mont Albert North

Opening up our hearts

Thank you, Kate Halfpenny for your article on your dogs (Comment, 11/3). I lost a beloved dog six months ago and (I thought) had decided no more – I couldn’t face the inevitable farewell again. Until I saw a six-year-old cavoodle looking for adoption at a rescue centre.

Even as I completed the inquiry form I agonised about whether I was doing the right thing. Was I prepared to forgo my newfound freedom of movement to nurture a troubled soul in a small vulnerable body, with an irresistible face?

Your beautiful story about Maggie and Sally convinced me that I wanted to do this. I am now waiting to see if I “qualify” to become this little dog’s new best friend in his forever home.
Barbara Gough, Croydon North

Victoria, hit hard again

In the 1960s when I was on my way to school and university, I would share a tram with clothing and textile workers. Cheaper gas from Bass Strait was coming on stream to encourage growth in our manufacturing industries.

Victoria became the hub for the nation’s car manufacturing industry. We even had a naval ship building industry at Williamstown. Now they have all gone or are going. Then the cruncher comes that we will only receive 85 cents back from every $1 of GST collected within our borders (The Age, 15/3).
Peter Connell, Highett

Women’s different needs

Helen Perrottet generously shared her personal experience of miscarriage (The Age, 14/3). However, too often we are told how we should feel. I had a very different reaction to the same experience, three concurrent miscarriages ranging from six to eight weeks between two healthy, full-term births.

I saw it as a natural part of conception and pregnancy and felt little to no grief, other than disappointment. I received excellent medical care but remember an emergency doctor reprimanding me somewhat for not being more upset.

Twenty years later I have hardly given it a thought. Wouldn’t it be ideal if each woman were listened to and received a response that supported their needs rather than one that frames the loss in an orthodoxy that assumes to know how we really feel.
Name withheld, South Melbourne

Distraction of fame

I suspect that your average person on a jury would be as likely to be distracted by someone of stunning appearance or attire – or perhaps a person of significant celebrity – as by a mother quietly breastfeeding her baby. In that case, should someone like Cate Blanchett be banned from being an observer in courts?
Maurie Keenan, Balaclava


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Ex prime ministers

Paul Keating equals leadership.
Helen Schapper, Alphington

Is Paul Keating now being advised by Mark Latham?
Les Anderson, Woodend

It looks like Labor is ready to sub Keating out of the game.
Leo Doyle, Bundoora

Tony Abbott given space to write on Paul Keating (17/3)? You cannot be serious.
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA

With some reservations, this rusted-on leftie agrees with Abbott, not Keating.
John Hughes, Mentone


The AUKUS deal is so expensive, it won’t be long before it’s under water.
Henry Kalus, Toorak

David Withington (17/3) knows how to pronounce nuclear but many people don’t. Now is the perfect time for us to learn.
Liz Middleton, Clematis

AUKUS pocus, abracadabra.
Lou Novak, Rosanna

Surely by the time our first submarine is built, it will be detectable by new technology and wiped out in a trice.
Wendy Weight, Capel Sound

Is there a “get out of jail free” clause in case the government decides it doesn’t want the subs?
Jan Newmarch, Oakleigh

Why do Australian governments repeatedly allow other countries to determine who our enemies are?
Ruben Buttigieg, Mount Martha


Brian Cook (16/3) wants to develop a culture based on humility and respect at, of all clubs, Carlton. Good luck, Brian, you’ll need it.
Bob Muntz, Ascot Vale

When there’s a draw, extra time should be allocated until a team scores a ″⁣golden point″⁣ goal and wins.
Steve Barrett, Glenbrook

Carlton was Tom-Lynched.
Joan Segrave, Healesville

The season begins and all teams start off on a level-playing field and with the same hopes. Go well, Clarko and the boys at Arden Street.
Dorothy Galloway, Mentone

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