protecting our coastline with submarines

Australia is a large land mass (“Budget billions to flow for subs”, March 12). Once troops arrive, submarines will have limited use compared with other forms of defence. The purchase of expensive nuclear submarines must be proportionate to our total defence budget and considerate of our pressing needs.
The invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the deficits in our defence preparedness: we would have no hope mobilising across one-twentieth of our land a competent defence capability at present. We don’t have the hardware and we don’t have the trained troops. That is the challenge.
No amount of expensive submarines will change that. Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison initiated the error. It is up to Albanese to end it. Martin Bell, Balgowlah

Illustration: Badiucao

Illustration: Badiucao

Given the prime minister’s enthusiasm for AUKUS and spending billions of taxpayer dollars on nuclear submarines, one is driven to question the rationality our defence subservience to the US because the land mass of Australia is indefensible. Peter Thomas, Rose Bay

We have sufficient money to build nuclear submarines. We have insufficient money to fund the hospitals, public housing, adequate welfare benefits, NDIS, green energy programs. We have a government that is reactionary, not visionary. Carleen Devine, Cammeray

Has anybody in the federal Labor Party done an “Advanced Magic 101” course to help them find the billions of dollars required to fund these submarines? Sue Casiglia, North Ryde

Just when I was beginning to believe that PM Anthony Albanese was perhaps on the correct path with the AUKUS submarine deal, I read that Morrison, Abbott and Dutton are all in favour of Albanese’s plans. Any time they agree on anything, I immediately feel the need to oppose whatever it is that they have agreed on. Michael Davis, Balmain East

To satisfy the sabre rattlers, this nation could create a substantial defensive air and sea drone capability. Both this government and the previous one are wearing this AUKUS deal with the aplomb of an emperor in his new clothes. In reality there is very little to see in the greater wardrobe of global armaments. It may well be this Down Under nuclear navel-gazing will leave us threadbare. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

I think I heard this correctly. The ports of Darwin and Newcastle won’t be suitable to house our new nuclear-powered submarines because the ports are owned or partly owned by the Chinese. Rick Johnston, Potts Point

If war is likely in three years, news of getting nuclear submarines in 30 years is a great comfort. Kevin Wilkinson, Arakoon

David Livingstone writes that getting involved in defence of Taiwan would be the same mistaken venture as Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam (“We won’t be at war with China in three years, in fact we may never be”, March 11). There is a profound and fundamental difference: none of those wars took place on Australia soil. He might be right that we won’t be at war with China, but a good strategist plans for the worst, hopes for the best and deals with what they are dealt. We cannot be so foolhardy to think we shouldn’t have debate or discussion about the possibility, all the while working to prevent war from happening. Robin Stonecash, Randwick

Voice pitfalls loom but in good faith, it can succeed

My heart sank when I read George Megalogenis’ perceptive analysis of the pitfalls awaiting the Voice to parliament in its journey towards the referendum (“Why it’s Albanese who could stifle the voice”, March 11). Yet I have sufficient faith in the judgment of the prime minister, the attorney-general and the Australian people to expect a favourable referendum result. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

Megalogenis rightly argues that if the complacent Anthony Albanese does not want to be left “alone at the microphone” he had better use it more effectively if the Voice is to succeed. The knives are out for the Voice: David Littleproud’s reactionaries not giving it a chance, high-profile Aboriginal naysayers like Lidia Thorpe and Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, and Peter Dutton waiting to see which way the political wind blows. The recent storm over a minor change to superannuation and the torpedoing of the republic are just two examples of our wariness about change, and tendency to succumb to scare campaigns. The PM will have to slog away to convince the uncommitted if his “passionate project” is not to end in ignoble failure. Ron Sinclair, Windradyne

Megalogenis makes an interesting point in comparing the Voice referendum with that of the poll for the republic. The Albanese government is keen to avoid the principle of the Voice being undermined by the model, as it was in the vote for the republic. The prime minister should not let the naysayers dictate the terms of the debate any more than the referendum question itself, but he does need to raise this historic question above the murky waters of political expediency. Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

The greatest tragedy of a No vote is that if it is not recognised in the Constitution, there will be no future guarantee that attention will be paid to First Nations people. Nor will there be a guarantee that they be involved in any decisions that affect them. Susan Dunn, Armidale

Illustration: Simon Letch

Illustration: Simon Letch

Come on, applied linguistics people, come out of your burrows and help the prime minister get the right wording for the coming Voice referendum question. You all know that there is confusion in the electorate’s mind about what exactly they’ll be voting for. And I know that you know how this can be clarified. So, come on, all of you who have expertise in applied linguistics – put your expertise into practice! The future of this nation depends on it. Penelope Layton-Caisley, Marrickville

Congratulations to Anthony Pratt (“Anthony Pratt donates $1 million to the Yes campaign for the Voice”,, March 12). To see someone using their wealth to good effect is encouraging.
Richard Kirby, Campbelltown

Car of the year a redneck dinosaur

In awarding Ford Ranger’s 4WD twin cab ute Car of the Year, readers might be justified in asking themselves which year (“The ute of today: Ford Ranger is Drive’s car of the year”, March 11). A pre-climate-change era where size didn’t matter? Or are you just being provocative? At any rate, the review had zero mention of any environmental credentials – presumably because there are none for a vehicle that uses a tonne of resources in every stage of its life, including pre-, present and post-production. In short, more of everything.
Given the size of our individual carbon footprints – among the biggest in the world – isn’t it the kind of thing we should be avoiding? Dorin Suciu, Eleebana

It’s official, the family car in Australia has been replaced by the ute. The huge, dual-cabin, gas-guzzling ute, as the TV advertisements promoting them suggest, is perfect for the macho revhead to tear along our beaches, drive through creeks and climb rocky outcrops. Back on road, they’re also ideal for bullying any other driver in a smaller vehicle. Progress indeed. Ray Morgan, Maroubra

A pick-up truck, albeit a “refined” pick-up truck, wins Australian Car of the Year. While the rest of the word goes electric, Australia goes redneck. John Elder, Annerley (Qld)

Home improvement?

Your correspondent raises an important point about housing trends: the new ones are all enormous (Letters, March 11). There’s a dearth of affordable smaller dwellings on one level for those wishing to downsize, or young people wanting to get into the market.
Houses on standard suburban blocks are knocked down, replaced by developers’ go-to favourite dwellings, duplexes – two profits for the price of one. And while great for families who don’t want/need a garden, their prevalence across cities highlights the lack of vision and foresight in Australian housing. All too big, no thought to sustainability and little room for trees. Lee-Anne Walker, Gymea Bay

I would like to bulldoze my underutilised, century-old house and build two modest town houses on my 1000 sq m block. There would still be plenty of room for trees and green space but no, I am only permitted to erect a bloated McMansion of absurd luxury and empty bedrooms, squeezing out gardens and contributing to the “urban heat island effect”.
There is a massive shortage of modest housing in this suburb. The only option for those wishing to downsize in the district in which they have lived for many years is to move to some box in a high-rise around the station or along Parramatta Road. No thanks. Ron Inglis, Strathfield

The correspondents from Sydney have all made valid comments on the bad planning in Sydney relating to new homes and development. Planning and development is out of control in my area (Bathurst), where another development is being proposed for 2000 new homes. This development is proposed to be built on farming land with no thought on how much water will be required. Every time a solar farm is proposed in the area, the biggest objection is it will take up farming land. A solar farm is far more beneficial because farming can continue, but no such luck for a housing estate. I now wonder if a change of government on March 25 will change planning in NSW. Robyn Lewis, Raglan

I agree with the concerns about the over-scaled duplexes being built in small-scale residential streets in the name of “infill housing”. I watch with dismay as single-storey bungalows and gardens across Sydney are being demolished and replaced through the state’s complying development approval process, often with two large, joined dwellings built over so-called basement garages, but which in actuality are often located at street level, giving the structure the scale and character of a 20th-century walk-up flat building. If urban sprawl is to be minimised through greater infill densities in existing suburbia, the regulations and design codes must demand quality design outcomes including respecting existing low-scale streetscape character. Peter Conroy, Concord

Poker farce

Chris Minns’ tokenistic response to poker machine reform was always going to cause him angst (“Greens tell Labor: back us, we win you power”, March 11). Thinking the voting public had moved on from poker machine reform being a major issue is political naivety. Labor has turned a very possible win into a very possible defeat. The public is sick and tired of poker machines inflicting damage and hardship on families. John Cotterill, Kingsford

Labor leader Chris Minns on the campaign trail.

Labor leader Chris Minns on the campaign trail.Flavio Brancaleone

Train reaction

In 2004, after 110 years of rail transport, the government closed trains from Murwillumbah to Sydney (Letters, March 11). In those days you could put your car on the train and it would be washed on arrival, ready to go. We recently opened a bike trail on the same line, which doesn’t suit everyone; we have a lot of elderly people who would travel on the train. Gillian Dierikx, Pottsville

Love and marriage

One way to make marriage work is to translate a wider commitment to Christian charity for a neighbour, and its accompanying selflessness, into our marriage as well (“Marriage isn’t easy but it shouldn’t be this hard”, March 11). The principle “treat others as you would like to be treated” reminds us that our spouse is a human being requiring compassionate love like anyone else. Peter Fleming, Northmead

Crown duels

Camilla is not a good queen for Australia (“After 25 years, Camilla’s crowning achievement is acceptance”, March 11). After her successful attempts at the destruction of Diana’s marriage and her PR team’s attempts at skewering Harry and Meghan in an effort to save her own power, her actions speak volumes about her character.
Character aside, the royals are an expensive and outdated joke to most Aussies. The previous Queen just made the whole monarchy debacle more bearable. But any shimmering illusions of a value-add to the Australian public have been blown up by the airing of , and the publishing of by Prince Harry.
Camilla has no reason to be involved in Australian politics at all. Nobody I know wants Charles on our coins, let alone Camilla. Bring on the republic, Australia. Lisa Evans, Coogee

Equality control

In 1979, the fact that women and men received equal pay sealed the deal for my joining the NSW police force (Letters, March 11). Shame there was precious little other equality to go with it for the next 24 years. Catherine Wikner, Bawley Point

When I started my nurse training in the early ’80s, females were paid a couple of dollars more than males due to their stocking allowance.
The fact that they were not allowed to have bare legs (or pants to cover them) and males could, when wearing shorts, was just another undiscussed form of discrimination. Andrew Brown, Bowling Alley Point

Yet another 1960s reality: after the birth of my first child I went to claim my health fund rebate, a fund to which I had contributed since before my marriage. “You can’t claim for birth expenses because you aren’t married,” said the pharmacist. I was forced to return with certificate in hand to be paid what was due to me. Cynthia Rowe, Woollahra

Dressed down

No disrespect to Cate Blanchett but I hardly think wearing the same dress twice in eight years constitutes a sterling effort to ameliorate global warming (“Cate leads charge in turning red carpets green”, March 11). Anne Ackroyd, Melba (ACT)

Cate Blanchett in a re-wokred dress at last month’s BAFTAs. Will she make a similarly sustainable choice at the Oscars?

Cate Blanchett in a re-wokred dress at last month’s BAFTAs. Will she make a similarly sustainable choice at the Oscars?Getty

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
Eastern suburbs bike path dumped over security fears despite $300,000 spent
From Mr Lee: ″⁣So some slim chance of questionable behaviour ends the idea? It’s a wonder anything gets done if that’s the yardstick. Hopeless.″⁣

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