The economic future of Australia is at serious risk of being compromised by current trade arrangements that mortgage us to China.
While on one hand China rejects our barley, wine and live seafood, makes outrageous territorial claims in the South China Sea, and conducts other activities that give us discomfort, on the other hand there is no apparent pause in Australia's large-scale shipping of our finite supplies of iron ore to China.
China currently relies on Australia for up to 60 per cent of its iron ore imports. Meanwhile, China is currently developing alternative sources of iron ore supply, most notably in Guinea.
There, with China as the key player in developing the necessary mining and transportation infrastructure, (think Belt and Road), what is currently estimated to be the world's largest untapped source of high-quality iron ore is expected to come online for export in 2025. Then, Australia's iron ore exports to China may well go the same way as barley, wine and seafood.
What is Treasury's modelling for a post-2025 budget that reflects zero iron ore sales to China?
The real possibility of such a scenario, along with China's recent capricious trade decisions, are a wake-up call for both the diversification of Australia's export trade and the need to identify not just alternative markets for our iron ore, but alternative uses for it onshore that directly benefit Australia.
Ian Pearson, Barton
Perspective on Taiwan
Mark Wilson (Letters, June 1) seeks information about China and Taiwan. There is plenty available. Most importantly, Taiwan is universally seen as part of China. Therefore its status in international law is of a separatist province being armed by an outside power, contrary to the generally accepted rules of world order. It is not a foreign country being threatened by China. Significantly, the US has not said it would enter into war with China if Taiwan were attacked. It has maintained an ambiguous stance.
The claim by Bradley Perrett in his articles that, if Taiwan were forcefully joined to the rest of China, all other east Asian countries except Japan would necessarily become "vassal states" of China, is far-fetched. The only other countries in east Asia are Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea.
The strategic position of each, and the bases of their relations with China, would remain the same if Taiwan were taken over. China does not claim any of them, so a Taiwan "precedent" does not exist.
Another factor is that in many ways China is a very vulnerable country. In particular, its economy is export- and import-driven (including much with Taiwan), dependent on imports of key raw materials like oil, and exports of manufactured goods.
Thus anything but a very short, successful war would imperil its economy. Both China and the US actually take a nuanced approach to Taiwan, and hopefully they will continue to do so, as the prospect of an all-out war between them is too awful for everybody. Recent glib talk in Australia of war is cynical posturing for domestic political reasons.
Paul Pollard, O'Connor
A matter of oil and gas
Mr Morrison last month gifted $2.4 billion to Australia's last two remaining oil refineries, citing national security, exacerbated by the fact that 100 per cent of our oil is imported. He's right, this extreme level of fuel insecurity is a massive issue that must be sorted out.
Subsidising the oil refineries so that they stay open for a few more years won't be enough. What say we look at the abundant resources that we have onshore, couple this with the government's ideology, and require all vehicles sold in Australia beyond, say, 2030 to be powered by natural gas? Or maybe you think this would be really stupid?
But wait, maybe there's another option?
A T Adams, Ainslie
No case to abolish states
It's hard to fathom the logic of Paul E. Bowler ("Abolish the states", June 2). In the very same edition of the paper is a letter from Tim Hardy ("The vaccine spin cycle") in which he castigates the federal government for its "continuing intransigence to building specialised quarantine facilities around the nation".
It has been the state governments which have borne the (constitutionally) federal responsibility of quarantining incoming travellers, using what was to hand - hotels, bereft of customers due to the pandemic - because something had to be done, and quickly. It is increasingly clear that hotels are not suitable for this purpose. This cannot be a long-term solution.
The hotels will be needed for the purpose for which they were designed sometime in the future, so an alternative must be provided by the federal government: purpose-built quarantine facilities.
It is the federal government who is responsible for the vaccine rollout, and it has completely failed in that responsibility too. After last year's loss of hundreds of care home residents due to the virus, you would have thought that making them safe this year with a quick and comprehensive rollout of vaccines to them and the workers in their homes would have been the first thing on the agenda. Obviously this has not been the case. I was staggered when I realised this situation.
If ever there was a case for abolition of the states, it certainly cannot be sustained now. The federal government behaved in a novel way (for this government) in the way it handled the arrival of the virus, but it's been pretty much downhill from then.
Margaret Lee, Hawker
Most important lessons
Many of us, quite rightly, are concerned about alternative teaching methods being pushed by left-leaning teachers, ahead of skilling students in the basics, often called the "three Rs". Instead, they are taught feel-good ways of learning that leave their education deficient for adult life and a working career.
Further lacking is the teaching to students (and in fact adults) of keeping an open mind before empathically and seemingly irrevocably adopting a viewpoint, thus polarising society.
We see it with a fear of clots from the AstraZeneca vaccine, with apocalyptic predictions of our demise from climate change, with assertions that batteries can provide baseload power and we can all drive pollution-free EVs, with cynical assertions that Christian Porter must be guilty, with far left- or right-leaning political affiliations, with religious indoctrination from an early age, and the list goes on.
What is needed is to teach children to think analytically before they are converted, by encouraging reading and discussing widely and then asking: What is the likelihood of this happening (blood clots)? What if this is not true (climate Armageddon)?
Do the alternatives work, and what are the whole of life-costs (batteries and EVs)? If we need to change, how long will it take to sensibly transition (renewables)?
Have we considered all the options (nuclear)? How will we ever know what happened decades ago (an inquiry into historical rape allegations)? How should our society be shaped (without totalitarian controls)? Is religion just a way of controlling us (there are around 4000 religions in the world, all with their own, singular God)?
Many issues have complex answers, often requiring innovation, compromise, and time. It is only by teaching the need to study the issues, then question, and always keep an open mind, that we can stop the polarisation of our society.
Ian Morison, Forrest
Royal commission is needed
Before "we" give any more money to Victoria to manage its latest Covid outbreak, the PM should get from the Victorian government a commitment that it will actively support a national royal commission into how Australia has managed this pandemic.
This is not to single out Victoria for either blame or credit, but it would be rather stupid not to acknowledge that Victoria has had more problems than most.
The Morrison government should stop pussyfooting about, recognise that pandemics of one sort or another in the future are more likely than not, and get on the front foot for a change.
Roger Dace, Reid
Interesting choice of creature
I was very bemused by the image on the front page of The Canberra Times of June 4 of a koala with its sleeves rolled up for a Covid jab with the headline "Roll up your sleeves for Australia's sake ... vax the nation".
Bemused because it suggests it all rests on us citizens to do the heavy lifting on Covid shots, but has nothing to do with the incompetent Morrison government and its failures to roll out the vaccines and organise mass vaccinations.
Bemused again with the image of Australia's iconic koala, which is becoming extinct in many regions - in part because of the failure of Morrison to do anything serious on climate change and our catastrophic biodiversity loss.
Let's not let Morrison get away with it.
Rod Holesgrove, Crace
A wish for oppositions
Chris Minns has stated on his recent election to the position of Leader of the Opposition in NSW that just because you are in opposition, it doesn't mean you have to oppose everything.
One can only hope his federal colleagues adopt a similar approach.
Tony Hanrahan, Farrer
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