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Foreign affairs inconsistency is nothing new

Crikey readers on Australia-China relations, and the question of the congestion tax.

China

Responding to Michael Sainsbury on the mixed messaging of Australia’s proposed free trade deal with Hong Kong — is the government pro-CCP or anti-CCP? — Crikey readers were split on how the government (and media) should be signalling on China. Either way, it’s not a surprise to see our attitudes towards foreign regimes are a little unbalanced. Elsewhere, readers were similarly at odds about (already nixed) congestion tax being floated for major cities.

On Australia’s mixed-messaging on China

Curtis E. Winter writes: Australia is doing the same thing it’s done since the 1980s: essentially being uninterested in whether China is a humane place to live, and putting business relationships far ahead of any other way of engaging with China. That does provoke the question of why Dutton spoke out. Since he’s built his reputation on being an authoritarian (i.e. an identical position to the CCP), it is strange that he would go to the effort. If it wasn’t just a brain fart, is he trying to develop a paleoconservative tendency in the Liberal Party, speaking out for economic and cultural nationalism and against “communism”? He’d have to be trying to appeal to people who are mostly even older than the Liberals’ regular support base.

Roger Richards writes: It is usually difficult to agree with Dutton on any issue, but in this case he is spot on with his comments, while the rest of the government are sending mixed messages and the Labor opposition are wavering — just as they are on climate change.

Ian Hunt writes: Why do we have calls for increasingly hostile relations with China, when there are no corresponding calls for hostility toward Saudi Arabia? Does this bias have anything to do with the long established influence of the US in Australia and the fact that the US appears to want hostile relations with China so that it can disrupt its economy and leading technologies in order to maintain US supremacy in the world economy?

On congestion tax

Richard Shortt writes: Another example of governments, fearing the use of the toxic term tax, abrogating their responsibility to lead and to implement policies — even if they are unpopular — to help make our lives function better. Instead, they will rely on drivers self excluding because of wasted time. Drivers will either change their work hours, work place or opt for a public transport option when available. Some, if able, may even simply drop out of the workforce. Leadership means doing the tough calls as well as the feel good stuff, just staying in office is not leadership.

Mark Dunstone writes: The worry about congestion taxes on roads, and to a lesser extent the existing congestion costs, is that it treats roads as only an economic resource. But roads are public places and thoroughfares. Are we to allocate their use according to capacity to pay? Already we have motorists claiming a greater right to use roads over other users such as pedestrians and cyclists because the car and truck users “pay the tax” (and cause the damage).

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