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THE BUDGET AND TAXES
Dispel these myths and ditch the proposed cuts
Acceptance of the need for increased government expenditure to help recover from the COVID-19 recession has dispelled the myth that budget deficits are inherently bad. It provides a unique opportunity to reset economic and industry policy and shape the future we want for our children and grandchildren.
To achieve this it will be necessary to dispel three related myths: JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments should be reduced to create an incentive to work, tax cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and, it would be unwise and unfair to impose a wealth tax on deceased estates.
Evidence shows that higher taxing countries do better across economic, social and environmental indicators. Government programs can be more targeted and provide a framework for private investment. Tax cuts that increase the private wealth of a few may inflate asset prices and not create long-term jobs.
We have a rare opportunity to look at the evidence, question old beliefs and build the kind of Australia we want on the other side of this pandemic. Hayden Raysmith, Williamstown
We need the income for goods and services
Ross Gittins is saying what many of us have known for years (‘‘Smaller government has failed, but let’s cut taxes anyway’’, Business, 5/10). Namely small government and privatisation has been an epic failure.
Can Scott Morrison or Josh Frydenberg name one previously government-run enterprise that has benefited Australians by being privatised? If they can’t, then forget about these tax cuts to high-income earners. Government needs tax income to provide the goods and services that make us a civilised society.
People must remember, the cuts will be paid for by cuts to schools, hospitals and other services. Who wants that?
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha
It couldn’t be more irresponsible
Against most economic advice, the federal government is talking about bringing forward its across-the-board income tax cuts in today’s budget. It’s been said this is being done, in part, to wedge Labor.
Such an approach couldn’t be more irresponsible. The government’s only objective in this economic crisis has to be acting in the interests of the nation. Now is absolutely not the time for political point-scoring.
Gail Greatorex, Ormond
Neither fair nor helpful
As usual, the accelerated tax-cut program expected to be announced in today’s budget will probably be neither fair nor helpful to our economy. A fair tax cut is raising the bottom threshold; all income earners are treated equally. It is also the best cut to stimulate the economy. With the current propensity to save at about 20 per cent, higher income earners already have high savings and plenty of ability to spend if they wish to.
Rather than give tax cuts to higher income earners, it would be best to use the money to provide a permanent increase to JobSeeker and similar level welfare payments, as this will be promptly spent (adding to stimulus), or else directly increase infrastructure spending.
Unjustified tax cuts are a long-term liability for us, as it is difficult to increase taxes when we need to; and we will need to at some stage, to reduce the deficit once our economy is in better shape.
Ken Courtis, Golden Square
The money won’t be spent
The Coalition is widely expected to announce bringing forward its planned tax cuts in today’s federal budget. The greatest beneficiaries will be higher income earners. They are more likely to pocket the money and buy shares, instead of spending on goods and services to keep their fellow citizens in jobs. Meanwhile, the government cuts JobSeeker to the vast majority of unemployed for whom no jobs exist.
This is not trickle-down economics. It is more like opening the flood gates on the Liberal trough. Even middle-income earners who might benefit should examine their consciences before they endorse this wealth theft. Could we, perhaps, support our forgone tax breaks funding a fit-for-purpose aged care sector?
Jim McMillan, Kensington
Neck deep in it already
The bleating from, among others the state opposition, about Victoria’s involvement with China is driving me around the twist. In Saturday’s Age (‘‘We’re a rock-dependent nation’’, Comment, 3/10), Peter Hartcher demonstrated how closely Australia’s economy and mining industry are dependent on China.
Victoria’s signing of a Belt and Road memorandum of understanding with China is claimed as being problematic. Spare me. What bit of the iron and coking coal exports to China aren’t entering into the Belt and Road Project?
Were those expressing concern (‘‘Blacklisted Chinese firm makes city’s new trains’’, The Age, 5/10) to extract their share portfolios and superannuation investments from Australia’s iron and coal mining companies, I might be more convinced they had a case.
Australia is up to its neck in Belt and Road.
Tony Kruger, Fitzroy
Amanda Vanstone writes that brand management is important, that those that do best put customers first (‘‘It’s laughable to blame only Mikakos’’, Comment, 5/10). Given that the coronavirus seems to have had an external source, the responsibility for its management would be the level of government with external powers, i.e. the federal government.
If Vanstone is concerned with the truth, she could point out that the federal government should have responsibility for management of the pandemic and for the sufficient supply of PPE.
I am sure that Canberra was relieved to have the state government take the brunt of the responsibility on its own shoulders, but was that an abrogation of its own duties?
As Vanstone wants to merge ministerial responsibility with blame, is she then willing to ask what blame can be placed at the door of federal ministers who have kept in dark corners while Andrews picks up their tab? Federal ministers seem to view Victorian ministers as scapegoats for their own incompetence. Their ‘‘customers’’ seem to be their own careers.
Marguerite Heppell, Hawthorn East
We expect all products, from cars to medicines, to meet a variety of safety standards by the makers. Why aren’t social media technology giants held to similar standards (‘‘Call for social media giants to help end gender-based abuse’’, The Age, 5/10)?
It’s like a new whizz-bang car with no brakes, and putting the responsibility on parents to save their children from accidents by throwing them from the car. It is the responsibility of social media technology giants to ensure their products are fit for purpose and safe to use.
Susie Allanson, Glen Iris
There are precedents
Should we really be surprised by the “revelations” from the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma that the tech giants have been manipulating young minds for profits (‘‘The spell must be broken, for our kids’ sake’’, 4/10)?
Like the casinos that deliberately design their poker machines to create a compulsive desire to keep playing, the social media giants wouldn’t be doing their jobs properly if they weren’t actively seeking to hook their young customers by targeting their innate wants and needs.
Did we really believe that the obsessive and addictive behaviours characteristic of young consumers of social media was an accident?
Justin Shaw, Ringwood East
Our democracy suffers
More than a week has passed since the Federal Court found Alan Tudge, acting minister for immigration engaged in ‘‘criminal’’ conduct. Justice Geoffrey Flick said ‘‘Mr Tudge had been acting as if he was above the law’’, in the case of PDWL, an Afghan refugee who applied for a protection visa in 2016.
Scott Morrison may be a pragmatist Prime Minister, but he also needs to respect the law and require Alan Tudge to trudge to the back bench. Lest we forget, Alan Tudge was also up to his neck in robodebt.
Our democracy suffers when ordinary (quiet) Australians watch dishonesty and bad behaviour by their leaders and feel helpless in the face of it.
Barbara Jackson, Montmorency
Watch them closely
One can only hope that the federal government does some close accounting on its further grants of public money to aged care, so that it does not create further multi-millionaires in the for-profit system.
Good, healthy food and a more than sufficient number of attendants are needed to service the needs of the elderly, who’ve put their life savings into this.
Loucille McGinley, Brighton East
The claims ring hollow
Once again, the for-profit aged-care proprietors are holding out their hands for more taxpayer funding to further line their pockets.
Their claims of more government handouts required to provide the level of care our aged should already be receiving ring hollow when we read about the cost-cutting, unskilled carers, poor hygiene and general neglect in most private aged-care facilities, despite the billions of dollars of government funding.
We need forensic accountants to inspect the books of these establishments to find out where the money is going, not blindly hand out more without proper oversight.
Jack Wajntraub, South Melbourne
It’s a boring game
Mike Trickett wrote of a great new game ‘‘post the parcel’’, a variant of ‘‘pass the parcel’’ (Letters, 28/9).
I want to complain that I’ve got a dud version of the game. My parcel, really just a fat envelope, was posted at Deepdene Licensed Post Office on 18/9 to a CBD address. It arrived at Melbourne ‘‘facility’’ on 20/9 – and hasn’t moved since. It hasn’t even been to Chullora in NSW, surely the most common facility of all, never mind others within Victoria and NSW.
It’s a boring game and I’m learning nothing about Australian geography.
Crikey, if it hadn’t been for the restrictions, I could have walked to the city, had a coffee along the way, and still had it hand delivered in under two hours.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
Spare a thought for them
I hope when your correspondent and her friends are wandering on the former Northcote golf course, admiring their echidnas fairy-wrens etc, they will spare a thought for all the golfers who since 1938 have kept the land out of the hands of developers, preserving a swathe of green space essential for the environment (Letters, 4/10).
Also they should acknowledge the sacrifice of the present day golfers for whom a few hours a week spent on the course is important for their sanity as well and who cannot afford the fees of the private clubs in the area.
Bill King, Camberwell
When is a walk a jog?
I too enjoy my daily exercise of walking but I can understand why Mel Green (Letters, 5/10) is seeing so many wearing masks incorrectly or not at all. When I’m walking at 5+km/h (my normal pace) it is very hot and uncomfortable.
I am happy to wear a mask correctly in crowded areas but I’m not going to infect anyone as I walk quickly past in a park or on a track. Joggers don’t have to wear a mask – what’s the difference between a slow jog and a fast walk?
What’s more is that it is even worse in warm weather as it was last weekend.
Lois Ziebell, Wantirna
Poverty is relative
For years in remote Nepal we lived in a house with one cold-water tap, stone floor, kerosene wick stove, outside long-drop toilet and a meagre living allowance. Friends, radio and cassettes for entertainment.
We felt privileged and comfortable because in our village we were better off than our neighbours, who carried water from a village tap, had mud floors, cooked on open smoky fires and had no toilets.
Now, my family of health workers is embarrassingly comfortable and well off with no threat to our incomes. But I have no desire to live in protected comfort while so many people in our country are sliding into hardship. Poverty is relative and the current growing gap between “haves” and increasing numbers of “have nots” needs to shrink not grow.
A “commonwealth” shares its bounty and we put in what we can to make it a great place for all. Growing unemployment and inequality is no time for tax cuts for the rich and will be paid for by growing social dysfunction and dysphoria.
It is those of us who are well off who need to recalibrate our “needs” not those of us with less.
Michael Langford, Ivanhoe
Give us back our park
Open space and parks are needed more than ever, and the pandemic has highlighted this need.
The Albert Park reserve is occupied by the Formula One Group for three months of the year for dubious economic benefit. Successive Victorian governments have supported and lauded the success of the Formula One grand prix in the park reserve for the past 24 years.
Give us back our park.
Geoff Gowers, Albert Park
I would like to thank The Age for the moving tributes written about elderly people who lost their lives to COVID-19 (Loved and lost). They had lives well lived and many had emigrated from other lands, seeking to make a better life for their families. Their contribution to Australia, as with those who were born here, is immeasurable. They left grieving children, grandchildren and often great grandchildren.
There has been a disturbing trend among some professional people and readers to place a value on lives so that the oldest are deemed to be not as valuable as those younger.
It is a slippery slope when we seek to prioritise the value of a human being by their age or any other factor. We should honour them, not see them as just unproductive and lesser human beings
Muriel McIntyre, Mornington
AND ANOTHER THING
Life in lockdown
When Melbourne’s ring of steel is lifted it will be like the start of the California gold rush or the Wacky races. To alleviate congestion I suggest we be let out in stages. Reverse alphabetical order seems reasonable: surname or suburb – doesn’t matter really.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill
The partying at St Kilda beach, clearly shows the need for tough rules and firm policing to manage the virus.
John Groom, Bentleigh
Present government policy on the public university sector reminds me of the treatment the car manufacturing industry received. Are they hoping for the same result?
Les Anderson, Woodend
I guess we’ll just have to wait for Amanda Vanstone to nail Richard Colbeck for his handling of the aged care fiasco. After all, that would mean criticising a Liberal.
Paul Carolan, Brighton
Amanda Vanstone, if you’re right about Jenny Mikakos, then the same applies to Bridget McKenzie, et al.
Les Aisen, Elsternwick
Ross Gittins gets it right again – privatisation of public services cuts cost at the expense of quality (‘‘Smaller government has failed, but let’s cut taxes anyway’’, Business, 5/10).
John Walsh, Watsonia
Bill Wyman (Comment, 5/10) is spot on: Donald Trump personifies the ugly, dangerous state of current world politics.
Mary Cole, Richmond
Just saw on the news industrial pallets loaded with printed copies of the budget. No one needs a paper copy of this document, think of the trees lost. Is there something wrong with the NBN?
John Massie, Middle Park
Each passing day brings an ever increasing amount of anecdotal evidence that we, the human species, are not as intelligent as we think we are.
Graeme Lindsay, Deloraine, Tas.
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