The last of the second-hand bookshops 

Margery Clark writes: Re. “Rundle: farewell to the second-hand bookshop” (yesterday). How well you describe with haunting nostalgia the fate of the second-hand bookshop — and also where am I to offload my books when I have a purge of my bookcase? There are two last bastions here in Sydney’s inner west — Bob Goold’s in Newtown and the Gleebook second-hand bookshop on Glebe Point Road. The latter seems to be subsidised by the other shop selling the latest literary works, comments and exposes authored by David Marr, Paul Barry, MacCallum et al attracting a large gathering of similarly minded people.

How much should we value Indonesia?

Les Morrow writes: Re. “What Abbott must do to fix the Indonesian relationship” (yesterday). For far too long the military establishment and the intelligence establishment have been considered as sacrosanct and have received almost no scrutiny since Lionel Murphy’s famous raid. The fact that we have been involved with the US in a series of wars of at least questionable value to our country’s security should cause us to want to hold both of these establishments to greater scrutiny. It seems more than likely that intercepting the phones of the Indonesian President and his wife is counterproductive to our best interest in our relations with Indonesia and highly unlikely to yield any significant information not otherwise available. Whether the hairy-chested among us believe it or not, good relations with our nearest neighbour, which is destined to become a future important world power, is essential.

Niall Clugston writes: Damien Kingsbury’s judgement that “the current breakdown in diplomatic relations between Australia and Indonesia is close to — or is — the worst the relationship has been” is rather short-sighted. This fracas is nothing compared with the Sukarno period, when Australian troops supported Malaysia against Indonesia in the Confrontation. And arguably the relationship is less complicated now than in the time of the Suharto dictatorship and the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.

Despite the rhetoric, for Australia the relationship has always been about problems, and the search for an Indonesian leader to solve them: communism, Third World nationalism, defence, terrorism, Australian drug smugglers, asylum seekers etc.  Indonesia is a neighbour, not a friend.