Letters to the Editor: Monash gained from, not invented, key strategies

Letters to the Editor: Monash gained from, not invented, key strategies

Tony Wright's statement (Analysis, April 18, p.4) that Sir John Monash is widely credited with devising strategies that turned the surge of World War I against the Germans after years of death-dealing stalemate highlights one of the many myths surrounding the man.

The oft-repeated assertion has no foundation of evidence whatsoever.

It was Marshall Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Commander in Chief, who formulated the successful strategy of successive, short, sharp offensives during the last six months of 1918.

Monash was simply a fine corps commander operating at the tactical level on a very narrow portion of the Western Front during that period.

Nor was Monash the inventor of the modern combined arms tactics.


This is another uniquely Australian myth that ignores the considerable evidence showing these were progressively developed by the French and British, as evidenced in the SS series of pamphlets issued from late 1916, and demonstrated in the successes of penetrating the strongly fortified German positions at Arras in April 1917, Messines in June, and Cambrai in November, not to mention the highly successful "Bite and Hold" tactics employed at Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde during the Third Battle of Ypres.

Monash was the beneficiary of these developments, not the inventor.

It is time Australians took a more mature view of Monash's contribution to the Great War, rather than through the narrow, emotive lens of parochialism portrayed in some of the recent popular pseudo-histories making unsubstantiated, exaggerated, and misleading claims.

Thankfully the government has not been swayed by this hubris and deliberate misinformation. Nor should we forget that in recognition of his exceptional war-time service, Monash was promoted to full General in 1929.

The forthcoming re-release of Dr Peter Pedersen's highly acclaimed "Monash as Military Commander" will do much to rectify the nonsense that has been espoused in recent years.

Brigadier Chris Roberts, UNSW, Canberra

Migration costs

The analysis referred to in "Treasury-Home Affairs analysis shows immigration benefits" (April 17, p4) is deliberately misleading.

The analysis falsely claimed "Australia's workforce will begin shrinking, unless the immigration rate is retained, as [Australia depends] on migrants to counter slowing birth rates".

However, current and future birth rates cannot affect the size of the workforce for another 20 years. Further, as the supplied chart clearly shows, recent "natural increase" will increase the workforce for decades.

The analysis claims that migrants deliver an economic benefit because the current policy favours migrants of working age. However, these migrants bring children or have children; these children will for many years lower the workforce participation rate.

Worse, they will generate enormous government child care and schooling costs. Any current shortages in the workforce are created by high immigration because that creates an enormous immediate need for infrastructure (equivalent to building a Canberra every year).

Treasury claims that additional migration will solve the shortage; in reality it will worsen it.

The analysis claims skilled migration will likely bring productivity benefits. However, any extra productivity would be more than consumed by building extra infrastructure needed only because of migration.

Native Australians would produce more only to see it diverted to meet the immediate needs of migrants. Incidentally, it is unconscionable for Australia to "steal" skilled people from poorer countries.

Bob Salmond, Melba

Future at stake

In discussing immigration levels, the editorial "Debate more subtle than critics think" (April 18, page 14) scarcely shows the subtlety it demands.

The document referred to is "Shaping a Nation: Population growth and immigration over time" from Treasury and Home Affairs.

The document's focus and emphasis is on economics, urbanisation, and infrastructure.

A heading states "Jobs growth has accompanied a growing population" (p 37) and we are told "Population growth is concentrated in capital cities" ( p 9).

The fact the pressures of population growth extend beyond cities and affect our natural resources is ignored.

There is no consideration of Australia's geographical constraints of water scarcity and degraded soils.

Under "Population Growth and Associated Pressures" (p35) only congestion, pollution, and waste management are cited.

In its conclusion, the report says "A bigger population brings challenges, in the form of congestion, pressure on the environment, and additional demand in key markets like housing" (p49).

We now have extended and more severe droughts and bushfires but nowhere is this mentioned.

Our major rivers are already in a parlous state but that gets no recognition and input from specialists in the natural sciences appears totally lacking.

Our future is at stake with such an inadequate, unbalanced report and the likes of Abbott, Hanson, and Dutton discussing immigration to suit their own extremist ends.

Judy Kelly, Aranda

Out of workers' pockets

The immigration debate has been given conflicting expectations by a briefing paper from Treasury and Home Affairs ("Treasury-Home Affairs analysis shows immigration benefits", April 17, pp4, 5).

The report warned of "significantly lower economic growth if the current rate of migration is not maintained."

What it failed to mention is that most of the growth is coming out of the pockets of workers.

That counter-intuitive fact is established by a graph printed with the report. It shows population growth, and GDP growth from 1959-60 to 2014-15. A modest growth in population over the years is accompanied by a rapidly accelerating growth in GDP.

A third line in the graph shows GDP per capita.

Its growth rate is barely above that of population and has decreased during the last decade.

Slowing or stagnant wages growth and increasing housing and living costs bite hard and immigrants, including refugees, are an expensive item overall.

The average person is getting next to no benefit from improving technology.

The government's increased gross take does not keep up with the increased costs of population growth.

We can expect that big business profits.

Gary J. Wilson, Macgregor

Folau's god is not mine

Too many of the Christians we hear from in the public square quote the Bible as though it were proof text; a text set in stone that cannot, and must not, be contextualised.

Thus, and especially in the case of homosexuality, they trot out a couple of favoured verses in order to condemn a particular group.

These false prophets do untold damage to the beauty and truth of Christianity. They are purveyors of a cruel, 'lower case' god: a god created in the image of man.

They seem to have little sense of the God that pervades and transcends the 13.78 billion-year-old cosmos: The God of utter Selflessness and Hope and Truth as manifest through Jesus of Nazareth.

Think Wallaby fullback, Israel Folau, who has attracted notoriety thanks to his expressed beliefs about 'gays' and 'hell'.

The word "hell" comes from the biblical Greek "Gehenna" which, in turn, is a transliteration of the Hebrew "ge-hinnom" — literally, the valley of Ben-hinnom located on the southern boundary of Jerusalem Now, Ben-hinnom was notorious in the ancient world as a place where child sacrifices and assorted other acts of idolatry were performed to placate the god Molech (circa. 600 BC).

Disgusted by the horror that abounded there, God told the prophet Jeremiah to 'go to hell' and curse it.

Dutifully, he did and overtime Gehenna came to symbolise punishment for those who died unreconciled to God.

That all said, while I have little regard for Mr Folau's theology — his God reductionism — I would still fight tooth and nail for his right to express his opinions.

In the end, it behoves us all to 'tweet others as we would like to be tweeted'!

Fr Peter Day, Queanbeyan

Beware other drivers

Roger Quartermain may think he is the most perfect driver in the world (Letters, April 18) but as an ex-police and ambulance driver he knows full well that a fair proportion of the drivers around him will be on their mobiles texting/talking, speeding, drug and alcohol affected, unlicensed, uninsured, and simply not paying attention.

Good luck to his rear end.

Eddie Boyd, Spence

AMA wrong on cannabis

So the Australian Medical Association does not support the personal use of cannabis.

I also understand that the cardinal ethic of the medical profession is "cause no harm".

I fear that the AMA fails here. It seeks the perpetuation of a policy of prohibition under which Australia has been afflicted by the emergence of prosperous markets in crystal methamphetamines, cocaine and new party drugs.

Prohibition has also stimulated the breeding of potent strains of cannabis, the distribution of which prohibition entrusts to the hands of criminals who care for nothing but profit.

It is gratifying that the AMA recognises "that criminal penalties should not be brought against users" because the application of criminal processes cause harm.

The AMA should also realise that diversion from prosecution and punishment still relies on the marginalising effect of the criminal law as gatekeepers and ultimate enforcer of those schemes.

Neither the application of social policy nor practice of medicine should cause harm.

Experience with tobacco shows far greater reductions in use can be made by regulation than by prohibition.

Bill Bush, Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform, Turner

Speed humps for Red Hill

James Allan. (Letters, April 16) reckons that there are alternatives for pedestrians ascending Red Hill.

However, Red Hill Drive is the only convenient way for people from Yarralumla, Deakin and Forrest. The track near the blue police box is too steep and stepped. It might suit commandos but not mothers with prams, the elderly, people with disabilities and joggers.

Besides, long practice and current signage indicates that Red Hill Drive is for pedestrians and cyclists.

From my personal observations, the person injured on May 7, 2014 was walking on the side of the road, not the middle.

She was entitled to walk there and in general terms, said Elkaim J, she was not negligent in doing so. He gave weight however, to the claim that she had been given "a stark warning about the folly of being on the road".

With respect, I think this tilted the balance too far in favour of the defendant.

Even if a person happens to be in the middle of the road, a cyclist keeping a proper lookout could avoid an accident.

The code of conduct for cyclists in the ACT "encourages safe and courteous riding practices, including slowing down on shared paths in order to avoid colliding with pedestrians".

Speed humps would help. A better solution for all users is a decent footpath. Perhaps the cycling fraternity could join us in lobbying the Roads Minister, Meegan Fitzharris, to this end.

Gary Klintworth, Griffith

Live export lose-lose

The Hon Steve Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment said (ABC Weekend Breakfast, 15 April 2018) that a good trade deal is one that delivers win-win outcomes. How is live export a win for the sheep and cattle that must endure these miserable, and often fatal, journeys?

Australian jobs depend on it. How many? Are we that bereft of employment opportunities, and a moral code, that maintaining Australian jobs which lead to the torture of animals is acceptable to us? We're not winning.

S. Gerrard, Dunlop

Plug proliferation

If you own a mobile phone (and who doesn't) we all know the problems of charging it with different charging plugs for different models. So the ACT government say they will have outlets for cars and bikes by 2050 and all government cars by 2021. So Mr Rattenbury, how many plugs will you have at every outlet and charging station? Making overarching statements such as this sounds good but will you choose to install Tesla, Mitsubishi , Hyundai, BMW, Nissan etc plugs or will we see a row of charging machines throughout each charging car park?

S. Brown. Kaleen



Despite the Chief Minister's claim that "rates rises pay for basic services" it is obvious the Canberra Hospital is not considered one of them judging by reports it has failed to meet standards. No doubt Mr Barr will try to lay the blame on the Commonwealth rather than accepting his government is frittering Canberran's money away on non-essential matters.

David Hall, Wanniassa


Surely, if Canberra Hospital has almost lost its accreditation, one or two heads should roll. Media reports suggest mismanagement may be to blame. Are the people running it qualified to do the job?

Chris Emery, Reid


A union advertisement was frequently aired during the Commonwealth Games coverage. It showed a mother bemoaning the fact her employer made "huge profits" while pushing her into labour hire. According to a report released in 2017, unions raked in $18.4 million in directors fees from industry super funds, which invested, or at least tried to invest, in hugely profitable companies. How ironic.

D. Zivkovic, Aranda


The Coalition strikes in Syria have raised the possibility of a full-fledged world war. The world stands in desperate need of peace and security. We all need to live together. The head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community states "the key to peace is to stop cruelty and oppression wherever it occurs with justice and equality". Only when this principle is followed will global peace develop.

Ehsan Khalid, Cranbourne North, Vic


The coal and gas lobbyists are right. Fossil fuels are good for the economy. The electricity they generate is more expensive than renewables, so consumers pay more for the same amount of electricity. This increases GDP. And, as we all know, increased GDP is good for the economy.

David Clark, Scullin


For the second time somebody with a big truck or road-making machine has used my drought-stricken front garden as a bypass to reach the Great Wall of Curtin rather than dismount and move a log lying across a regular access. I'm considering laying a minefield in the illegal bypass. No prisoners!

Bert Castellari, Curtin


I note the many letters that have been published on the Dismissal. Whitlam's government was sacked 43 years after NSW governor Philip Game gave the Lang Labor government its marching orders. Come this November it will be 43 years since Whitlam went. Surely it's time to move on.

M. Moore, Bonython

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