we must pursue a policy of tempered reconciliation

Is our submarine shopping spree worth it (Yours.sincerely, smh.com.au, March 17)? Short answer: no, it isn’t. It perpetuates the myth that it serves the cause of peace, freedom, security and democracy. It is a manifestation of the military fortress mentality that has become dominant in our cultural outlook. It’s a wasteful use of our resources when there are so many other pressing needs confronting us. Rajend Naidu, Glenfield

Illustration: Alan Moir

Illustration: Alan Moir

If we are to be threatened by China (or any other country) can we realistically expect others to come to our aid if we have not taken at least some action to boost our own defences – which is what the submarines are about?

Surely, we need to at least make some effort to show that we are willing to put up a fight. Whether the subs are the right way to go I will leave to others to determine, but we must be seen to be serious about having our own military in the best possible shape. Bill O’Donnell, Kew

It would be interesting to know the projected comparative costs over the next 30 years of other Commonwealth programs such as the NDIS when compared with the submarine projections of $360 billion or more. Maybe such figures might bring some degree of sanity into the ongoing debate. Brian Carter, Grafton

The former Coalition government laid a booby trap with AUKUS (Letters, March 17). Having just cancelled one submarine program, it made it almost impossible for the incoming government to repeat that piece of sovereign bastardry and do it again. No one would want to do business with Australia ever again. Anthony Albanese was put in an impossible situation. Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. I put the blame where it belongs. Brendan Jones, Annandale

For Australia to confront China militarily, for whatever reason, as contended by Tony Abbott equates with my grandmother challenging Rafael Nadal to a tennis match (“Keating wrong on China threat. Ask Xi”, March 17). There is only one possible outcome. Surely, we must pursue a policy of tempered reconciliation. Peter Thomas, Rose Bay

It’s obvious that the biggest threat to Australia’s national security is our leaders. How do they enter into a deal with US and UK to spend an eye watering $368 billion on nuclear subs with no public or parliamentary debate at all? Yet when it comes to climate change, with a proven threat to our very survival as a species, they’ll argue and delay action for more than decade. Kel Dummett, Kiama

Australia’s character and image will change immeasurably if AUKUS proceeds. The thought of Australia having nuclear submarines, weapons and facilities is horrific. This small (only 25 million) wonderful nation of ours needs to wake up, hand in our deputy sheriff’s badge, scale back ties with the US to sensible levels and become independent, neutral and on friendly terms with all nations (including China). AUKUS is madness, and let’s hope debate on its impact on Australia continues – perhaps a referendum is warranted. Ken Butler, Mount Colah

David Livingstone mounts the best argument yet why AUKUS is a bad idea. As he so correctly points out, the submarine deal is incredibly expensive and not due for implementation prior to their being rendered obsolete. Add to that, they will be so few in number they will be no match for a well-prepared and formidable aggressor. A Morrison thought bubble indeed! Allen Edwards, Croydon

Whatever peaceful tactics were deployed to keep communists away from Australia way back in the 1950s should be redeployed now, as they apparently worked, and they cost a helluva lot less than $368 billion. Margot Vaccari, Berowra

Keating’s views worthy of consideration, regardless of their delivery

Paul Keating provided a valuable alternative viewpoint on whether spending $368 billion on submarines that will probably be obsolete by the time they are actually built is a good use of taxpayers money (“Delusional bile will divide Labor”, March 17). Accusations that Keating’s valuable input is delusional because he is old is both wrong and discriminatory. Keating has created a debate where previously there was overwhelming consensus on what is a terrible, costly plan during a crisis of rising living costs and budget deficits. Ian Boland, Turramurra

Good on you, Keating (“Subs deal splits Labor as PM rebukes Keating”, March 17) I thought they’d all gone potty. But please lay off Penny Wong, she’s doing her best under the circumstances. Graham Tucker, Kiama

It was sad to see Keating’s former spirited invective reduced to the sometimes childish dismissal of reporters at the Press Club, but this in no way diminishes his common sense regarding an imagined attack from China, his opinion on Australia being dragged into a deal to support Britain’s economy, and the uselessness of the nuclear submarines in protecting Australia. Heather Johnson, West Pennant Hills

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Does anything good come out of Keating? The opposition certainly thinks so. George Fishman, Vaucluse

Keating’s spectacular re-emergence into the public eye may give Jonathan Biggins the opportunity to develop a new version of his famous stage show . Not to mention a sequel to , featuring the smash hit “Nothing could be finer than commending mainland China in the morning” and the reimagining of the Beatles classic “We can’t live with an AUKUS submarine”. Doug Walker, Baulkham Hills

Keating has a wonderful history of delivering colourful language laced with invective and in doing so has polarised many on both sides of politics. His recent outbursts have been no different, but at all times his views are worthy of consideration however controversial. Keating has always been a true patriot with Australia’s best interests paramount, and on this occasion has sacrificed his standing in his own party. Whether you agree with him or not, there is no doubting his courage and good intentions. Max Redmayne, Drummoyne

Tony Abbott thinks China is a threat (“Keating wrong on China threat. Ask Xi”, March 17). Tony Abbott thinks global warming is a hoax. Graeme Finn, Summer Hill

Keating may be at odds with those in government and opposition regarding the submarines, but, I would say, he is probably in step with the majority of Australians who see this as a waste of money. Gerry Wag, Ryde

Powerhouse debate

The design for the Powerhouse museum may be interesting, but it certainly isn’t beautiful (“Sydney’s supersized Meccano set”, March 17). It’s the sort of look only an engineer could love.Alan Shaw, West Pymble

Closing credits

Please move on from debating whether Everything Everywhere All at Once is a good film (Letters, March 17). It’s pointless. The few who walked out are outnumbered by those like my daughter who saw it twice. The people (and the Academy) have voted. Robert Yen, Strathfield

KIIS off

That Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O won the top radio breakfast ratings says a lot about Sydney audiences (“KIIS takes radio top spot away from 2GB”, March 17). Glad I moved to Brisbane. Christine Tiley, Albany Creek, Qld

Blinded by colour

Cultural blindness is commonplace (Letters, March 17). The rainbow has an important place in the story of Noah. However, like rabbits overwhelming Easter, and Santa likewise for Christmas, the significance gets appropriated and covered by bling. The more thoughtful considerations of Lunar New Year, recent Hindu celebrations and upcoming Ramadan stand in pleasing contrast. Chris Main, Campbelltown

How does ACU get away with discriminatory behaviour considering it is a public university and still subject to any discriminations laws like every other organisation in this country? Todd Hillsley, Homebush

Mitchell deserves a public apology over racist abuse

It is not enough for the teenager who hurled racist abuse at Latrell Mitchell to be only given a police warning (“Teen given warning by police for alleged racist insult at Mitchell”, March 17). He should be made to apologise to Mitchell in person, in public. Warnings mean nothing to a boy, embarrassment does. Racist attitude is not formed overnight; the boy needs a timely proverbial rap on the knuckles to wake him up. At fourteen he is certainly old enough to learn right from wrong; after all, he already knew how his public remark would hurt Mitchell. Kim Woo, Mascot

Super congratulations

The government is to be congratulated in its moves to tighten early access to superannuation balances to prevent the debacle that the previous government allowed where “emergency drawdowns” were often spent on gambling, takeaway food and furniture (“Chalmers promises to safeguard super”, March 17). By and large people have to set aside enough during their working life to provide for their retirement, rather than rely on an age-pension funded from taxes levied on the younger working generation. Rather than different tax rates on superannuation fund earnings, it is a pity that the government didn’t choose to have, say 80 per cent, of superannuation withdrawals taxed as income (the remaining 20 per cent would be tax-free as at present) with a credit given for the tax already paid and the balance remaining at death treated as income in that fiscal year.
Maurice Critchley, Mangrove Mountain

This may shock those concerned about COVID super withdrawals being wasted on cars, gambling and other luxuries (Letters, March 17). This is exactly what our current system allows for retirees. They can splurge their super with no restrictions on self-indulgence and the next day put their hand out for the age pension. There is zilch requirements to use super for income during retirement and not be a burden on taxpayers. Tony Nicod, Collaroy

Climate key

Yesterday’s orange sunset over Sydney from a major bushfire – visible from space – reminds voters that climate change is the key issue for the election, while the NSW Coalition is developing new gas fields at Narrabri (“State, federal governments at loggerheads over winter gas shortfalls”, 17 March). The UN demands no new fossil fuel extraction but the Coalition continues to wreck our climate. Electors need to choose for a liveable, sustainable future, a parliament that will focus on this biggest issue and build renewable energy storage into the power grid instead of gas. Tim Dashwood, Killara

Abnormal inflation

Strange times; banking turmoil being mooted as an instrument of monetary policy (“Financial system wobbles might cool global inflation heat”, March 17). The RBA needs all the help it can get. It correctly realised some time ago that we were not having normal inflation. Shortages of supply were a major factor and already profitable suppliers are marking up to their heart’s content. The RBA has enough trouble with orthodox inflation. It has little idea of the connection between its conventional policy instrument, the cash rate, and inflation. One thing is for sure though; little regard has been had by both the fiscal and monetary authorities to the plight of those most badly affected in these troubled times. Inflation has been a problem for all and it has taken a great hunk out of many people’s welfare. That’s kind of tolerable if you’re well off but a real kick in the guts if you were already scratching for the readies to pay for food and shelter. Mike Bush, Port Macquarie

Wrong heroes

What a joke (“Is $120,000 enough for NRL’s lowest paid player?”, March 17). That is near the amount paid to a primary teacher on top pay scale after at least 10 years of teaching, and after four years of training. It shows the attitude society has to our educators. A NRL player has skills, ability, yes, but he has not devoted at least 14 years in one job to earn that amount. NRL players are looked on as heroes, teachers are too often looked on as child-minders. Marjie Williamson, Blaxland

Education fund

If NSW can easily afford $850 million over four years for the proposed future fund, why not really invest in the future and add the $212.5 million per year into increasing public education teacher salaries and infrastructure – or maybe there are simply no votes in that (“Perrottet’s children won’t get future fund”, March 17). Barry Ffrench, Cronulla

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Gee, thanks premier. With 10 grandkids under 10 already, and more on the way , I looked at the cost to the Bank of Mum and Dad for the expected top-ups to the kiddies future fund. So far its $156,000 till they get to the age of 18. Makes a new bike, Barbie or video game look pretty insignificant. Shona Kirchen, Kiama

Choosing chatbot

Since reading that there is now an improved chatbot, GPT-4, I have definitely decided that I will carefully choose my doctors and other professional providers from those educated before 2022, just in case they took the easy road (Letters, March 17). Judy Adams, Burraneer

Boxing compensation

The evidence connecting head injuries in both forms of rugby with concussion and dementia now seems incontrovertible and will result in huge compensation payouts (Letters, March 17). Restricting tackles to below the chest won’t stop players’ heads being injured when they hit the ground, so the future of these sports looks grim. But what about a “sport” where two people punch each other in the head and other people pay to watch? Ian Adair, Hunters Hill

Changing seasons

It matters little when seasons technically start (Letters, March 17). The weather gods care little about when it rains, whether we have a heat wave, floods etc. Climate change has seen to that. Traditional weather patterns have been impacted by our blatant disregard of excessive pollutants into the fragile atmosphere. Denis Suttling, Newport Beach

Your correspondent asks why we change seasons on the first of the month. I heard that on a hot November day in 1788 the officers of the NSW Corps asked Governor Phillip if the changeover to summer dress rules could be brought forward; and he obliged by declaring December 1 be the official start of summer. Lance Rainey, Rushforth

We really need to consider whether we even have four seasons, or like the Dharawal group of Indigenous people, we recognise six seasons with their unique characteristics. This could prove useful in all manner of planning situations around farming or turning the clock back. Gordana Martinovich, Dulwich Hill

The question isn’t when should autumn start, but why aren’t we using the seasons used here for 60,000 years? I’m told it’s currently Burran and will be for a few more weeks. Peter Fyfe, Enmore


Should the government have committed to purchasing exorbitantly priced nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS pact? Would they save us from annihilation if nearby super-powers decided to act before their planned delivery in 30 years time, or even after?

Correspondents’ responses varied. The country must appear to be able to defend itself, some said; others said the billions committed to the submarines could be used elsewhere, including to fight the biggest war of all, against climate change.

Many, like Sawsan Madina of Cremorne were “devastated by the subs decision. If Labor is going to base its decisions on the need to avoid being wedged by the Coalition, what was the point of voting for them?”

Paul Keating did not receive the usual positive response from letter writers after his appearance at the National Press Club, and his scathing criticism of the subs deal and personal attacks of journalists. Many said Keating was out of touch and living in the past. But others understood his “fury”, including Hilary Diack of Jannali who thanked the former PM: “Keating has shown his good sense and knowledge from many years of experience over the years in calling out what he considers a bad and foolish deal.”

When another former PM, Tony Abbott, wrote an opinion piece declaring Keating was wrong to defend China, correspondents vented their annoyance. “Abbott accusing Keating of ‘relevance deprivation syndrome’ is a bit rich, coming from someone who pops up to address anti-climate change forums around the world,” wrote Alan Marel of North Curl Curl. “Whatever expertise Abbott has, it’s not in predicting the future.” Pat Stringa, letters editor

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