The report that the Morrison government is planning to spend $270 billion over the next decade on the military, including billions on long range strike missiles ("Australia to spend up on defence in response to China", July 1, p1) is a serious concern.
The government is peddling fear while, at the same time, it reportedly has cut funding on diplomacy with DFAT funding cuts representing 24 per cent of all departmental cuts over the last five years.
Much of the military equipment, or missiles, are not going to be delivered until the mid or late 2030's while the $4 billion Future Frigate Weapons Program, scheduled to start this year, will not be completed until 2044.
We should not be drawn into this hawkish US strategy, but rather perhaps think of alternative and novel roads to peace, such as investigating Australia becoming non-aligned internationally, as is our near neighbour Indonesia. Increasing our aid program and our diplomatic services is likely to be more effective than joining this confrontational cabal drumming up fears and the possibility of war.
Rather than throwing more money at the US military-industrial complex, the Morrison government should be investigating a universal basic income and actions on the climate crisis, which are greater immediate national security priorities.
Kathryn Kelly, Chifley
Call Agent 00111
Re: "Australia to spend up on defence" and "Licence to hack" (July 1, p12). Somehow the title 'Agent 00111' doesn't sound as glamorous as the previous identity. Perhaps the current covert conflict should be called "the code war".
It is obvious the next big war will be won and lost within the first split second by deadly attacks against cyber systems. The defeated side will be reduced to quivering paralysis, unable even to talk to its own people, military or civilian. Lights will turn off, electric power will stop, planes will circle above airports trying to dodge each other with no instructions, and ATMs, telephones, merchants' transaction terminals, and server-farms controlling electricity, traffic and utilities generally will shut down. It will wait helplessly for its surrender terms to be dictated to it.
Instead of investing multiple billions in manned submersible and aerial death-traps, the major investment surely should be in preparing urgently for the coming cyberwar; if the money can be spared from tackling the looming climate catastrophe.
A Moore, Melba
How benign is benign?
In April 2015, the then Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said that ISIS was the biggest threat we'd seen to the post-World War II global order.
The current PM Morrison seems to be blissfully unaware that we've even been at war continuously for 19 years - and still are in fact. How else do you explain his claim that the "largely benign security environment" we've been experiencing is now changing?
One gets the impression "security" threats are a political plaything to puff up leaders' chests and continue our role as a US lackey. War was not so successful in dealing with the old enemy, terrorism. Maybe we'll have more luck with a new one, China.
Our biggest security threats, climate change and nuclear weapons, remain dangerously neglected, as is the critical art of diplomacy in managing international relations. The winners will be, as usual, the extraordinarily wealthy weapons makers.
Sue Wareham, Cook
Hordes are gathering
Your editorial "Defence spending hard to justify" (canberratimes.com.au, July 2) misreads the history of the 1930's and misrepresents the Prime Minister's new defence policy.
Hitler incrementally gobbled up the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia in the guise of the reunification of German territory while proclaiming peaceful intentions. He spoke of peace while preparing for war in breach of League of Nations rules. The British and French followed the policy of appeasement with catastrophic consequences.
China has followed that playbook. They have annexed the South China Sea, crushed the one-country, two-systems Hong Kong treaty, threatened to annex Taiwan, and bullied Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, and India. President Xi does not hide his intention to dominate the region. Having been warned we would be spineless to fail to prepare to defend ourselves.
You say we should revitalise old friendships with once staunch allies rather than kit ourselves out as America's deputy. Who were these supposed staunch allies when Japan took advantage of British and Dutch weakness to launch its assault in 1941?
Like it or not, there was only one. As that great Australian leader John Curtin said: "We turn to America". Nothing has changed in that regard. To resort to the tired old slur of "America's regional deputy" is unworthy of you on a matter of such gravity.
Fred Bennett, Bonner
When M Moore suggested that The Canberra Times was being "spammed by a logarithm" (Letters, June 30), my first reaction was to point out that surely they meant to say "algorithm", which is quite a different thing.
However, after giving it further thought, if a logarithm is in fact: 'the power to which a base must be raised in order to produce a result', then that is precisely what is occurring.
Constant sniping and misinformation originating from the Murdoch press means the ABC's base has been driven to become exponents (powers if you like) of a fully funded and safeguarded ABC. More power to them, I say.
Peter McDonald, Hughes
Try age and exercise
The article relating to Curtin University research (Sunday Focus, June 28) confirmed what our primary teachers may well have realised, or at least suspected.
On average, the oldest children in WA schools (born in July) performed better in NAPLAN than the youngest (born in June the following year). This was especially the case in grade three though not as evident later on.
So, one way for a school or education department to improve their NAPLAN score status, at least in grade three, is to encourage parents of very young school starters to hold off until the following year.
An interesting thought, but that's about all, given its impracticality and no net benefit to child or community in the long run.
On the other hand, we in the ACT conducted a randomised, controlled trial in public primary schools as part of the University of Canberra-ANU LOOK study. We reported (American Journal of Public Health) that classes introduced to externally provided physical education increased their NAPLAN numeracy scores between grades three and five by 11 points more than classes in schools who continued on with their usual practice.
Improving our physical education in public primary schools is worth very careful consideration. Any decision to do so would be evidence-based, of proven benefit to education as well as to physical and psychological health. But then again, like the WA study, my recommendation is not particularly new either; the ancient Greeks talked about it well before our ACT trial.
Dick Telford, Forrest
It's a vendetta
Budget cuts after budget cuts continue to be dished out to the ABC in an attempt to bring the organisation to heel. So, what is it about our national broadcaster the LNP doesn't like ?
Is it because most taxpayers are happy to sacrifice four cents per day to fund the most trusted media organisation in Australia?
Or is it ABC reporters ask too many embarrassing questions, don't deal in misinformation, or create sensationalised programs or reports?
Maybe the ABC is too effective in its operation, informing Australians of what's really happening in our wide brown land.
Or is it because the ABC continues to provide the best of the best when only the best is expected from our pittance, four cents per day?
John Sandilands, Garran
Vaping is good
The Royal College of Physicians in England states that, while not completely risk-free, vaping is far less harmful than smoking tobacco and that people who have switched from tobacco to vaping should carry on and not go back to smoking.
The United States Centre for Disease Control states e-cigarettes have the potential to benefit smokers if used as a complete substitute for regular cigarettes and other smoked tobacco products.
I'm therefore intrigued as to what experts Alex Mattea (Letters, June 30) thinks Matt Canavan et al are countering when they oppose the ideological crusade by our health bureaucracy against Australian smokers accessing a safer alternative?
Stephen Jones, Bonython
Get it right
It's the number of coronavirus deaths that really matter,not the number of cases.
Rod Matthews, Melbourne,Vic
TO THE POINT
Two words, Neville Chamberlain. That man, well-meaning as he was, was duped completely by a psychopath and is now considered a naive foolish figure to be ridiculed. Your editorial "Defence spending boost hard to justify" (canberratimes.com.au, July 2) displays a complete lack of understanding of human nature, super power ethics, and history.
Lindsay Davis, Palmerston
Thank you Ewan Brown (Letters, June 30) for raising the issue of the lack of expert advice on COVID-19 for Canberra's senior citizens. It was a relief to see I am not alone.
Mary Robbie, Farrer
We've had horrendous fire season this year. Despite that, little is being done to clean up and prepare for the next summer. The pine forests have been neglected once again. Has COVID-19 wiped all memory of other dangers?
J Gray, Farrer
THE ENERGY CON
"Great news, ActewAGL's electricity prices are going down," the letter from ActewAGL said. I compared the new and old prices for my annual consumption. The new prices cost me $22 more per year. Great news for ActewAGL. Bad news for anyone with solar panels.
Bryce French, Weetangera
A RARE CITIZEN
One has to admire Michael Lucas for reading the Our CBR tripe with such diligence. (Letters, July 1). Is he the only person in Canberra to do so?
Steve Thomas, Yarralumla
DO THE MATH
I thought I read where consumers will enjoy a reduction in electricity prices. How does this pan out when ActewAGL has reduced my discount and I expect yours from 25 per cent to 20 per cent? Is anyone doing the sums?
M McConnell, Giralang
Richard Allen (Letters, June 29) feels Narrabundah is being neglected in comparison with Braddon. He should realise that Braddon is for "new Canberrans", the childless apartment dwellers.
Michael Duffy, Curtin
WHO DID IT?
The Overland train between Melbourne and Adelaide has just been saved and bookings are open again. Was it the ALP in Victoria or the LNP in SA? Just a clue, Scotty isn't smirking.
John Davenport, Farrer
JUST A JOKE, RIGHT?
When I saw the government was going to spend $270 billion over the next decade on upgrading our military I thought it must have been April Fools Day. Then I saw that July 1 is actually International Joke Day. That's when I knew it was a hoax. Thank goodness. Otherwise the much desired surplus would be a long, long, long way off.
Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham
THE BIGGEST THREAT
The biggest threat to the peace of the Australian realm is our much vaunted alliance with the good old US of A. My understanding is the only shooting war we have been involved in since WW2 which wasn't at the behest of our Yankee cousins was the Malayan Emergency.
N Ellis, Belconnen
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