Comment

Letters to the Editor

Another fine mess

How kind of Tony Shepherd, chairman of the GWS Giants to give us the benefit of his big city know-how ("Inner south spooked over Manuka plan", February 18, p1). He tells us that "thinking Canberrans" in this "funny old town" will be in favour of the GWS Giants/Grocon proposal. However, Mr Shepherd's condescending attitude may already have gotten up the noses of some Canberrans. They may be the ones who believe the club was able to con the Labor and Greens ACT government into giving the club $750,000 for each of the three games it plays in the ACT every year.

While there are some benefits to an upgrade of Manuka Oval, Mr Shepherd should rest easy that the enormity of his development will probably be successful. On any given day, conning the current ACT government is child's play; he would hardly have raised a sweat in convincing them of the benefits of the GWS Giants/Grocon proposal.

Of course, thinking Canberrans will be delighted to have another 1000 apartments in one big development adding to congestion in the inner south. Thinking Canberrans for kilometres around will enjoy hearing concerts for free. The states and their clubs will roll over and allow sporting matches to be played in Canberra rather than at their home venues.

As Ollie might say: "This is another fine mess that you will get us into."

Marilyn Jessop, Forrest

I note Giants chairman Tony Shepherd is quoted saying, among other things, that Canberra is a "funny old town" when promoting plans to redevelop Manuka Oval.

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Mr Shepherd should take care because Canberra is also a "savvy town", which has heard it all before. And sadly no thanks to Chief Minister Andrew Barr and his colleagues who have kept us in the dark and treated us like mushrooms.

Ken Begg, Barton

Give festival new site

Every February, our fair city awaits the multicultural festival as an opportunity to enjoy a diversity of global food and culture, music and performers from the territory and beyond, and to drink and be merry with our friends.

But may I suggest it be moved elsewhere in the city? Garema Place in the heat becomes decidedly cramped and unpleasant, filled with the smoke from the stalls and the heat of the crowds. There's also all the disruptions from the installation and pack-up and its impact on businesses.

Just down the road lies the perfect location: beautiful Glebe Park. Why not base the event there and have it spill out on to Allara Street and the eastern end of Garema Place? Having seen Adelaide run its excellent summer festivals (Garden of Unearthly Delights, WOMAD) in grassy open spaces for years, I'm convinced the highlight of Canberra's summer schedule would be even better if it was finally given a worthy location.

Gus Acton Cavanough, O'Connor

Held to ransom

I am bemused by the claim by the ACT Labor government that it was given a mandate at the last election to commit to light rail in Canberra. Labor was not given a mandate for anything because it did not win the last election. It tied with the Liberal Party and either party could have formed government with the support of the one elected Green member. That support was dependent upon conditions imposed by that individual and light rail appears to have been one of the demands – demands Labor was evidently happier to embrace than was the opposing party.

If Labor is so convinced of the approval of the electorate for the planned rail line, let it first go to the election this year for an actual mandate to go ahead with the scheme. Of course, that does not satisfy the presumed condition on which its right to govern was predicated, with the result that the ACT taxpayer is being held to ransom by one person elected with minimal voter support.

Sandra Harper, Braddon

Mixed messages

I read Anne Coutts' opinion piece "We must talk to the boys to protect the girls" (Times2, February 18, p5) with great interest. As the leader of an all-girls school, she is in the prime position to empower young women and to spread a message about how unacceptable domestic violence and the victim-blaming culture are. With this in mind, her questioning of how often girls are told that their skirt is too short or that their dress choice gives the wrong impression was somewhat ironic.

Girls' Grammar offers amazing educational opportunities. However, these opportunities often come second to the extreme focus placed on uniform at the school, in particular skirt length (sitting below the knee). Students are often told these rules are to ensure the comfort of male staff members or to give "the right impression" about the school. What kind of message is that sending the girls who attend this school, with victim blaming in mind?

Ms Coutts' delivery of such an important message is ultimately undermined by the attitude towards uniform at her own school.

G. Grieve, Kambah

Snubbed by army

A member of my family recently applied to join the army, but was refused entry because of gluten intolerance. However, I understand 100 Muslims are members of our defence forces and the Defence authorities have now ordered that halal food be included in the service rations. Previously, these members would have had to ensure that all food eaten in any situation was halal certified.

Therefore, could a coeliac not also do the same?

This seems to me to be discrimination of the highest order. The family member is from a long-time Australian past and is prepared to serve Australia in our defence forces which is a family tradition. I ask, then why the discrimination?

K. Cantle, Kianga, NSW

Collars for kangaroos

The RSPCA should look very carefully at what is going on with kangaroos in Weston Park. Some might simply think putting collars meant for deer on kangaroos represents just another one of those quirky ACT government "research" projects on kangaroos.

But most of us know that female kangaroos have pouches where mothers clean, toilet and raise their young in pristine conditions. Did these researchers test to see that these important acts of cleanliness undertaken by lactating female kangaroos are not unduly compromised when encumbered with a tight neck collar?

Professor Steve Garlick, Bungendore, NSW

Traditional rights for traditional methods

Interesting to read the different viewpoints on Indigenous fishing rights on the South Coast ("Fighting over fish", Forum, February 20, p1). The main sticking points seem to be that some Indigenous fisherman do not believe they should be subject to licensing, bag limits, marine park sanctuary boundaries and they should be able to sell commercially subject to no limitations.

I particularly liked Wayne Carberry's line of thinking that "he should not have to follow the rules" due to his Indigenous heritage. It made me ponder if Mr Carberry follows the rules in relation to other "white" institutions such as driver licensing, tax, social security etc.

Back to the fishing question: I have a solution. Indigenous fishing rights should be respected and allowed to take place with no rules on the following grounds: people undertaking this type of fishing can only use completely traditional methods. That is to say no modern fishing gear at all. No rods, no reels, no mono-filament or braided lines, no lead / steel sinkers, no steel hooks, no modern lures, no synthetic nets, no wetsuits, no masks, flippers, snorkels or scuba gear, no spear guns, no refrigeration of their catch, no modern boats or outboard motors. Completely back to the basics of of handmade shell hooks, handmade plant fibre lines, handmade canoes, handmade wooden spears and stone or wood fish traps. This could be done without any rules. If the Indigenous population wants to fish with "white man" gear, the same rules apply as they do to everyone else. This will enable our disaffected Indigenous youth to really connect with their heritage, as well as protecting our fish stocks from rape and pillage.

T.J. Farquahar, Ainslie

If traditional people want traditional fishing rights, then they must fish in the traditional way. No steel hooks or knives, no nylon lines or nets, no tinnies with outboard motors.

Bruce A. Peterson, Kambah

Let's go back to tax principles and remove the capital gain discount

I just wish current comment about negative gearing would pay some attention to tax principles. Tax principles? Yes, they do exist.

A person who negatively gears a rental property has two objectives in mind: getting a rental return and reaping a capital gain on disposal.

The interest paid out is in pursuit of both objectives, but the difficulty of apportioning it to each of those objectives means the whole of the interest is charged against income, even income from other sources.

The excess interest over rents received could by legislation be quarantined to future rental income, or held for deduction against the capital gain on disposal.

Money has a time value. Deduction of excess interest against current income provides a present benefit, but the tax impact of the capital gain is deferred until the gain is realised. Meanwhile, the person's wealth increases as the property's value rises.

Taxing capital gains helps to redress the imbalance. But that redress has been damaged by the fiscal vandalism represented by taxing only half of a realised capital gain.

A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. Whether a dollar receipt comes from personal exertion or from property investment, it carries the same taxable capacity.

Remove the 50per cent capital gain discount and negative gearing loses some of its shine.

Trevor Boucher, Ainslie

More than investment

Gary J. Wilson (Letters, February 19) says, "... tax deductions from negatively geared investments are not a concession. They are a valid deduction of costs incurred in a business risk ...", but he seems to be missing a major point of the argument and viewing real estate as nothing more than an investment.

A resource as basic as a roof over your family's heads shouldn't be subject to the whims of investors and speculators, and by allowing them to be negatively geared, that is exactly what is being encouraged. Buy some commercial real estate or invest in the stock exchange, but don't make the already difficult task of purchasing a home harder than it has to be for those of us who don't spend our lives in the pursuit of money, and if you do decide that the thrill of outbidding a 20-something couple trying to buy their first home is just too damn good to give up, don't expect to get a tax break that gives you an unfair advantage.

James Allan, Narrabundah

Devaluation the point

The price of every home will be devalued under Labor's negative gearing policy, says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ("Malcolm Turnbull warns property values will fall under Labor negative gearing policy", canberratimes. com.au, February 19).

But surely this is the point. Most people only sell a house in order to buy another one — and if all houses are cheaper, the seller/buyer is no worse off. But the big plus is that many people who couldn't afford a house will now be able to do so. And this is the purpose of Labor's policy.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

Malcolm Turnbull has told us to be very afraid of Labor's idea of limiting negative gearing. He says that all house prices will fall if it is adopted.

I would like to help him with his words here. What he should have said is that the presence in the property market of investors trying to minimise their tax has artificially pushed up prices for people who don't have a house yet.

Removing this distortion would make it a bit easier for normal people to afford a house.

Is this a bad thing?

Jenny Andrews, Aranda

Pell under mob attack

While George Pell might not meet the expectations of many – for example, he is not a warm fuzzy type, nor are his conservative views those of most of his detractors – but as far as I can ascertain, he has yet to be found guilty of anything.

There is an odour of mob rule in the demented attacks on Pell at present, with Tim Minchin's scurrilous song leading the charge.

I would have thought sensible people would hear the results of the commission before exposing their bigoted stupidity.

H. Ronald, Jerrabomberra, NSW

Political fairytales

In this age of political unicorns and fairytales, for puzzled voters, I am pleased to offer the following mythological lexicon: Pandora's box, Joe Hockey's first (and last) budget; Icarus, the F-35 fighter project; Magic Pudding, federal budget; Snow White and the 21 Dwarves, federal cabinet; The Headless Dwarves, shadow cabinet; The Minotaur, Barnaby, of course; The Kraken Wakes, Clive and the Palmers; Rumpelstiltskin, ScoMo; Ravana the Rakshasa, Minister for Immigration; Ala (or Eve), Minister for the Environment; Dybbuk, T. Abbott esq.; Baba Yaga, Bronnie; Gotterdammerung, the 2016 election. Over to you.

Julian Cribb, Franklin

Moment of truth

The events and actors that have led the federal government to back down on the threat to return baby Asha and her family to Nauru underline just how irrelevant and isolated the ALP has become on asylum-seeker policy.

Under ALP policy, confirmed as recently as last year's ALP national conference following tearful and tear-jerking speeches from Richard Marles, Tony Burke and other Labor luminaries, baby Asha, and all 267 asylum seekers from Nauru temporarily in Australia, should be returned to indefinite detention on Nauru.

The no-exceptions indefinite detention policy to which Asha is subject was introduced by the Rudd /Albanese government and since its demise has been maintained by the Liberal government and continues to be supported by the opposition under Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek.

The respite for Asha and her family is a response to a change in the national mood about the cruel and heartless policies of the ALP and Liberal parties.

The moment of truth has arrived for the ALP. It can insist that, consistent with its policy, all 267 Nauru-based asylum seekers temporarily in Australia, including baby Asha, be returned to Nauru, or it can concede that the policy can no longer, in conscience, be supported and work openly and constructively to find a better way.

Jon Stanhope, Bruce

TO THE POINT

NATURAL JUSTICE

Archbishop Denis Hart has condemned those responsible for media leaks that police are investigating Cardinal George Pell. Perhaps a bolt of lightning out of the clear blue sky will smote the leakers?

Thos Puckett, Ashgrove, Qld

HEALTHY FOR WHOM?

"Healthy $227.6million profit for Medibank", says the headline (BusinessDay, February 20, p8). Healthy for Medibank and healthy for its shareholders who will receive healthy dividends. Not so healthy for the members whose benefits have been cut from 87 cents in the dollar to 83 cents in the dollar. It is a disgrace.

Anne Willenborg, Royalla, NSW

STICK TO FACTS

No, Malcolm ("Malcolm Turnbull warns property value will fall under Labor negative gearing policy", canberratimes.com.au, February 19). Not again; not an empty scare campaign. Been there, done that. How about facts, or even policies, instead?

Claire Hughes, Kambah

Malcolm Turnbull has raged that Labor's policy will smash house prices across the land. Bill Shorten asserts that negative gearing and the capital gains tax concessions have forced house prices up to unaffordable levels. How fascinating that the opposing parties actually agree on the facts – they just choose to express themselves in different ways.

Roger Quarterman, Campbell

A BAN ON BANS

Instead of verballing me, John Beaton (Letters, February 20) might note that the short letter he objects to was about the modern mania for banning everything we don't approve of. Sometimes, I think there should be a ban on campaigns to ban things. And yes, John, I used the word "zealot" deliberately – those who not only have strong views but insist that everybody else must have them, too.

Phil Teece, Sunshine Bay, NSW

MANUKA OVAL

Congratulations to Jack Waterford on his brilliant and disturbingly revealing article "Is the Manuka Oval redevelopment plan a good deal for Canberra?" (canberratimes.com.au, February 19). It's to be hoped Canberrans will now demand an ICAC-style inquiry into the corruption that appears to have become entrenched in the administration of our city.

Mike McGettrick, Reid

LET THE PEOPLE SPEAK

I sincerely hope Bronwyn Bishop is preselected by the Liberal Party to contest the next election. The voters of Mackellar will then be able to remove her as their member.

Ian De Landelles, Hawker

Email: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au. Send from the message field, not as an attached file. Fax: 6280 2282. Mail: Letters to the Editor, The Canberra Times, PO Box 7155, Canberra Mail Centre, ACT 2610.

Keep your letter to 250 words or less. References to Canberra Times reports should include date and page number. Letters may be edited. Provide phone number and full home address (suburb only published).

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