On budget night night I found out what I'm worth as a citizen of Australia. I have raised three children to be amazing adults, volunteered for school reading programs, school canteen duty, made things for countless fetes, and for more than 20 years delivered meals-on-wheels, but with the axing of the Dependent Spouse Rebate on Tuesday night, I am now worth nothing in the eyes of my government. It seems as though the only thing I'm good for is to be blamed for when I was born and therefore causing so many of the country's woes. At 64 years of age, I am totally worthless. Thank you, Joe Hockey.
Helen Davies, Melba
I think Ice Hockey Joe has more than tobacco in his cigar. ''Think of your country and not yourself,'' he says. Tell that to the 16,000 people who are being shifted from the workforce and forced on to the dole. Good politics? I don't think so.
How is thinking of the country a bigger priority than feeding your family? How are these people expected to pay their mortgage? I take it Big Joe has provided rent assistance for them in the budget. Sixteen thousand workers not paying tax, plus reduced GST because they can't afford to spend. I can see why Joe is sacking so many tax staff - they just won't be needed.
A. Mutch, Nicholls
Well may we say, ''We survived the global financial crisis'', for nothing will save us from the horrible consequences of Joe Hockey's budget.
Annie Lang, Kambah
After the Coalition won office, Labor's projected four-year deficit of $60-odd billion suddenly became $120-odd billion. After three years of Hockeynomics, the Coalition expects to reduce it to $60-odd billion.
Can anyone tell me - if Labor had delivered Hockey's budget would the deficit in three years be $30-odd billion or zero?
S.W. Davey, Torrens
Delaying welfare by six months is tantamount to abolishing welfare. Australia can afford the modest debt it had, and still has. It cannot afford a generation of homeless, helpless, sick and desperate people.
Alex Raupach, Chifley
Petrol prices to jump means the cost of transportation must go up, which means an increase in the cost of living, regardless of your income.
John Milne, Chapman
When the budget is voted on, I expect the verdict will be: ''The lies have it.''
P. Robertson, Rivett
Balance the budget, and bugger the people.
Anne Willenborg, Royalla, NSW
It's a question of trust
Both Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have now famously broken pre-election promises. Yet Tony Abbott is still trying to push the trust card and saying we can trust him to run the country. But it's too late - the damage has been done.
Both Labor and the Coalition will now find it extremely difficult to convince the public that anything they say can be relied on.
Recent surveys have shown voters moving to the Greens, the Palmer United Party, the independents and the like. It will be interesting to see whether the post-budget surveys show a reinforcement of this trend.
People have notoriously short memories, but the question of trust will surely come back to haunt the major parties - and they will have only themselves to blame.
Tony Williams, Kingston
Debt's not a disaster
My congratulations to H. Ronald (Letters, May 10) for paying cash for his house (assuming, of course, he is not a renter) and his car. I am also impressed by his refusal to have a credit card - I only wish I had his means, and/or his self-discipline. My wife and I, on the other hand, have a mortgage which is more than double our annual pre-tax income, and rely on the fantastic plastic to ensure the smooth running of our household. And yet we live comfortably and do not feel we are being financially irresponsible - our household has no ''budget emergency''.
The point is that debt is not - by any stretch of the imagination - the evil the Coal-ition (sic) and their acolytes make it out to be. Responsibly managed, debt allows us to have what we need when we need it. As individuals, appropriate insurance can lower the risks of loss of income to reasonable levels. Governments, however, cannot ''lose their job'', so even such simple measures are meaningless in that context.
I would prefer the current government would run the country along similar lines to my household: borrowings at a point where the repayments are easily serviceable, in order to build assets/infrastructure and maintain the desired standard of living. The Coal-ition (sic) would have me trapped in the rental market, and taking the bus to work, merely for ideological reasons. If they could see sense, they would notice that over the past few years Australia has maintained the third or fourth lowest government debt in the OECD.
I know how I want the economy of this country to be run, and it's not via the austerity budget.
Mark Raymond, Manton, NSW
Cut the perks, pollies
Former prime minister Malcolm Fraser says the entitlements of former politicians are ''minuscule'' and would contribute little to the budget if they were removed. Along with his gold pass, his taxpayer-funded office, secretary and car, complete with fuel card, this ''minuscule'' allowance is not as small as Mr Fraser would like us to think. Multiply it by the number of surviving ex-PMs and other ex-MPs with gold passes and we're talking big money!
I agree with Senator Nick Xenophon who says: ''The rule should be: if you leave the job, you leave the perks behind.'' Many a pensioner has worked harder and longer than many a politician. They deserve more. Cut the after-politics perks and let them survive on their generous taxpayer-funded superannuation.
Ken Pullen, Braddon
Marginal seats needed
Zed Seselja says ''don't blame me'' for the ACT's imminent recession (''Seselja powerless to fight PS cuts'', May 13, p4). Who should we blame? We could blame a system which allocates two senators to the ACT while allowing Tasmania, with a population about 20 per cent larger, 12. More senators would mean governments and oppositions working harder to woo us. Labor missed its chance, so getting more won't happen soon.
So what else can be done to reduce doctrinaire victimisation and neglect in future? Only one thing: ours need to become marginal electorates.
We need the majorities our federal representatives enjoy to fall to about 5 per cent and for the party from which they come to change from time to time.
How? By lots more Pavlovian voting against sitting members. Politics made easy. Join the socially responsible ''always vote them out'' movement today.
Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython
We do not seem to be aware the large annual increase in Australia's population (about 400,000) has serious implications.
Future food supplies cannot be assured, while right now government budgets are in disarray partially due to the additional costs of basic supplies and infrastructure; these apparently total tens of billions of dollars.
Our birth rates, and especially immigration intakes, must therefore be substantially reduced; otherwise it eventually becomes a fight for survival in this land with its predominantly infertile soils as well as the generally low and unreliable rainfall.
Let us not become like so many Middle Eastern countries, where civil strife is undoubtedly partially driven by overpopulation and food shortages.
Judith L. Watson, Latham
Kangaroos no threat
Controlled burning and mowing are a far greater threat to the survival of small animals, birds and plants than kangaroos grazing (''Cull to shoot 1600 roos, put rest on pill'', May 13, p3).
Kangaroos play a critically important role in Canberra's nature reserves as no other species performs their ecological role and without them the system begins to break down.
It is the misguided management of reserves that destroys the precious ecosystems.
Julie Lindner, Farrer
At the top of the list of kangaroos that should be culled is the mob inside the botanic gardens. A proper audit of the cost of its depredations would show any extra costs involved in getting rid of it would be quickly recouped.
Ron Walker, Campbell
Ecologists are right to publicise the disappearance of many small mammals (''Our disappearing native animals'', editorial, May 9, Times2, p2) It's high time we had this discussion.
To have a chance of keeping the remaining native animals from decline and extinction, we have to stop over-managing the landscape - by fire, gun, poison and habitat destruction.
The annual firestorms across the Top End (labelled land management) are a disgrace. You don't need a PhD or a special study to deduce that ground-dwelling birds, mammals and reptiles will suffer severely.
That frequent controlled burns in the south have a similar bad effect on native wildlife is revealing.
Meanwhile across Australia, too many, both within government and in the general population, disrespect the common species that have managed to adapt to humans overrunning their former homes. Kangaroos, dingoes, wombats, bats, reptiles, have suffered severe culling and/or casual slaughter, and in the case of the kangaroo have been ''harvested'' in their millions since the 1980s.
Prejudice, mismanagement and greed ensure these animals, too, will decline towards threatened status (then we'll want to save them).
M.J. Taylor, Bywong, NSW
More Telstra troubles
One must empathise with D.N. Callaghan's lament (Letters, May 13) about his/her interaction with Telstra.
I recently and reluctantly signed with Telstra on my move to Jerrabomberra as I had no alternative service provider; this was five weeks ago. In that time I have been billed for the month of April twice, the email service was initially withheld and, according to my Telstra bill, I have made more than 30 calls to Telstra seeking resolution of the matter with no avail. However, on the bright side, and I do enjoy new experiences, I have been exposed to the cultural delight of being sworn at by a Filipino.
It is impossible to speak with an Australian-based representative and my only alternative is to pay the bill and contact the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Unfortunately, the TIO is a body funded by the ''telcos'' and does not operate under the Ombudsman Act; thus my outcome from such an application is sealed as a foregone failure.
Chris Longhurst, Jerrabomberra, NSW
Forum rethink needed
It's not so surprising the Commonwealth has rejected design development funding for the Australia Forum, an admirable conference/exhibition centre proposed for City Hill (''ACT bid for centre funding snubbed'', May 12, p1).
The Hill (inside London Circuit) is territory land. However, the Commonwealth (rightly) controls planning there. The ACT's City and City to the Lake plans, which are not approved by the National Capital Authority, show the forum on the south-eastern slope of City Hill. It's sketchily depicted as a sprawling but distinctive building.
Because axiality and symmetry on and about the six avenues radiating from London Circuit are important factors in the hill precinct's design, the corresponding south-west sector will need closely matching development. However, it's designated private residential use in the ACT's plans.
An attempt at visually linking the two disparate developments is made by placing a 16-storey building each side of bifurcating Commonwealth Avenue, aligned to Parliament House.
They and the proposed dense medium-rise residential development proposed between the hill and West Basin will significantly restrict views in and out of the hill precinct, while degrading the integration of the place with the landscaped, campus-like Central National Area.
Clearly, more detailed briefing and design work are needed on the forum (and the ACT's plans) before the Commonwealth can consider approving or funding it.
The distinctive forum could work better if integrated, a la Parliament House, with the re-created hilltop park, where Griffin originally proposed an important building.
Jack Kershaw, Kambah
TO THE POINT
ABBOTT AND …
The more I see of Tony Abbott the more I understand why Rupert Murdoch and George Pell like him.
Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld
He said the only thing he wouldn't do to become prime minister was sell his a***, but he's selling ours now he is.
Phil O'Brien, Flynn
''Governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards'' - Tony Abbott, August 2011.
Colin Handley, Lyneham
Who cares about the budget when you get the devastating news that red wine and chocolate aren't good for you after all (''Look away now: study finds no health benefit from wine and chocolate'', canberratimes.com.au, May 14)!
Alex Wallensky, Broulee, NSW
DIGGING DEEP FOR ZED
Senator Zed Seselja has bemoaned the fact that he and other government backbenchers are unable to gain special access to their leaders to press their cases (''Seselja powerless to fight PS cuts'', May 13, p4).
Perhaps constituents could consider organising a whip-around to help these sidelined pollies finance a meeting or two with Tony or Joe.
Bob Garrett, Torrens
I am becoming increasingly bored with the relentless depiction by your editorial cartoonist of the Prime Minister and Treasurer with wing-nut and Shrek ears respectively. It's not funny any more; it's just an expression of unwarrantable disrespect.
It is a form of visual slander in which the victim is exposed to hatred, ridicule and contempt. Please knock it off, Mr Pope. You can use little labels if you feel that your subjects need identification without the gross appendages you hang on them.
Colin P. Glover, Canberra City
Hearing the sad news of Reg Gasnier's passing reminded me of a high school assembly at Sutherland in the mid-1950s, and being told by a very proud headmaster that ''One day this boy will play for Australia!''. How right he was!
Paul Jones, Curtin
Can Canberra owners please keep their dogs under control. Five hens were killed in our backyard in Giralang in broad daylight on Tuesday morning. Five perfectly beautiful hens that were locked up every night to keep them from marauding foxes. I hope the dog responsible has a great stomach upset from devouring all but the heads of two of them.
S. Mann, Giralang