Why does Jack Wiles (Letters, August 17) think that bank profits are a measure of a healthy economy? If the banks are so healthy, why are Australian citizens being charged a levy on their deposits, which will then be used to bail the banks out if needed? Of course, if you deposit more than $250,000 at a time you won't be charged the levy.
It could be another scheme that transfers funds from taxpayers to investors. Or possibly our government now realises the financial ruin that global maladroit policies are creating in other countries. Bailing out Lehman Brothers did not prevent the global financial crisis and it may have prolonged it. Why should we repeat the mistake?
It's employment and resultant productivity that makes for a healthy economy. Under this government the Public Service has had the largest increase in employment, but there is no discernible increase in productivity, only maladroit policies. More people are on welfare.
Every taxpayer has far less spending power because their pockets are being drained by high electricity and infrastructure costs. There is no good reason for the increased costs as we have coal, which is an environmentally friendly, non-polluting, cheap, effective form of energy. But, we are obliged to pay for unreliable, environmentally damaging green energy. Why? Remember the smartmeter scam last year. That was just one of the many strategies to transfer money from ordinary citizens to the wealthy and sometimes corrupt investors.
Dr Judy Ryan, Lyons
Flight of fancy on debt
Perhaps Clive Broomfield (Letters, August 19) should have scrolled through the very lengthy list of failed airlines before using one, Qantas, as an example of why borrowing is good for us? Ansett, Compass, OzJet, Air Australia, just a few Australian airlines that had insufficient income to meet their borrowings and failed, owing shareholders, employees and the public, huge sums. Businesses can and do fail every day; however, that is not good for a national economy. Ask the Greeks.
Fred Barnes, Bruce
Variable tax folly
Re Richard Denniss' article ''High cost of less tax'' (Forum, August 17, p9), concerning Northern Territory tax cut promises for the forthcoming auction (oh, sorry, some people persist in still calling it an election).
This has been tried before. Until 1941 two tax assessments were issued. A state assessment and a federal assessment.
The state tax rate varied from state to state. Consequently, the Electrolytic Zinc Company, Cadburys, Union Carbide and other large concerns manufacturing only in Tasmania, established their head offices in Melbourne, as the state taxes there were lower than in Tasmania.
Although these companies did provide employment, it was disadvantageous for Tasmania's budget.
This testifies to the folly of the proposal by both major parties to offer a lower tax regime in the far north as Denniss explains.
Michael Adler, Gungahlin
Bring it on home
Open the financial pages of the weekend edition of any major newspaper and you'll find a piece about superannuation. Depending on the political leaning of the author, superannuation is seen as a more or less efficient saving plan to ensure our comfortable retirement. In fact, saving through compulsory superannuation is proving very inefficient, unproductive and most unfair to the average punter.
First, the unfairness. Every year billions of dollars in tax concessions ($32 billion in 2012-13, according to Treasury) are redistributed from lower to higher-income earners, thanks to ill-considered policies and the myriad financial inventions available to the wealthy but not to the poor who cannot pay for the advice. Second, the opportunity cost to our economy of the non-investment in Australia of the $1.6 trillion of accumulated funds is huge. I dare say we wouldn't be bellyaching about poor infrastructure if even just half that money had been invested at home instead of overseas.
Third, a largely parasitic industry employing mostly financial advisers, fund managers and other such gurus gives the impression of productive economic activity when, in fact, apart from scooping up $18 billion a year in commissions from our pockets, they contribute nothing edible, wearable, habitable or tradeable to our economy. This is not the best way of utilising our savings.
John Rodriguez, Florey
Housing not sabotage
Amin Saikal's claim (''Peace not on Israel's agenda'', Times2, August 16, p4) that recent Israeli announcements about plans to build some housing in existing settlements amounts to a plot to ''deliberately … sabotage the current 'peace talks''' is contradicted by no less an authority than US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said the Israeli announcement was ''expected'' because the Palestinians and the US had been warned weeks ago that there would be some building announced during the talks.
Moreover, the Israeli government was very careful to ensure that every single one of the new apartments it announced would be constructed only in areas that everyone knew would be kept by Israel in any conceivable deal - the Palestinians had conceded as much in previous negotiations.
Meanwhile, Saikal's dismissal of the Israeli government's prisoner releases ignores the fact that this was a politically unpopular move in Israel, done as an act of good faith just to get talks to occur.
Individuals released included murderers who beat a 72-year-old man to death with a steel bar and two others who tied up and beat to death a convenience store owner. Politically, it clearly represents a very real risk for peace by the Netanyahu government.
Finally, Saikal avoided mentioning the three times Israel made offers of a Palestinian statehood on nearly all the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem, which were not accepted.
These offers in themselves disprove Saikal's claim that Israel does not want peace or is deliberately sabotaging peace prospects.
Justin Said, Coogee, NSW
Coalition's maternity leave scheme will reward the rich
What's wrong with the Coalition's paid maternity leave scheme? It gives more money to the rich than to the poor, that's what, and it completely excludes the 46 per cent of mothers with children under four years of age who are not in paid work (ABS April 2013). Yep, it's exclusive, that's what's wrong.
Pauline Smit, Doncaster East, Vic
My daughter's expecting twins on September 8. They're going to call them Toorak and Bellevue. Phew!
She'll just make it - in more ways than one: she's on $149,000 a year. Yes, it's a bit of a struggle for them. But, of course, she's voting for Tony.
Olle Ziege, Kambah
Jenny Macklin said the proposed Liberal levy on big business to pay for the parental leave policy would result in an equivalent increase in all grocery prices. This statement must be based on utter ignorance or deliberate lies. First, not all big businesses are grocery stores; second, the levy can only be made on profits, not revenues; and third, the tax would be felt by the shareholders not the grocery buyers.
Ed Dobson, Hughes
Choose: gulags or Greens
To woo the parent vote, Tony Abbott will spend $5.5 billion a year to finance six months' paid parental leave, even for a parent on an income of $150,000 a year.
Meanwhile, Abbott will out-Hanson Pauline (to woo racist voters) by demonising, kidnapping and terrorising refugee parents and children in Liberal prison camps.
Kevin Rudd apologised for mistreating Aboriginal children. In a huge backflip Rudd now chases the racist vote too, with Labor parents' and children's prisons.
The 2013 election is the sickest since Federation. Only the Greens stand between us and tyranny.
Graham Macafee, Latham
Is that Zed to a T?
I recently received in my mailbox election material from Zed Seselja promising to be my strong local voice in the Senate. Unusually for such material, it did not include any way of contacting Zed other than through a Liberal Party office holder, one T. Faulkner.
Political candidates usually encourage contact by including phone numbers and mail and email addresses. If I were able to contact Zed directly I would ask him what he would do to protect his community from savage public service job losses. Liberal spokespersons have spoken at different times of estimates ranging from 12,000 to as high as 50,000.
The Howard cuts were not only far greater than had been promised, but were very savagely implemented. Public servants were removed to ''departure lounges'' and denied any opportunity to do meaningful work to keep up their job skills.
Those who sought to continue their public service career through redeployment were bullied into taking redundancy packages.
What will Zed do to ensure that the employment rights and the dignity of Canberrans is protected this time?
What assistance will Zed seek for small businesses and private-sector workers? Ford workers in Geelong have been offered special assistance, as have all job seekers in Tasmania. I suggest that Zed may argue that cuts to red tape and the abolition of penalty rates will assist tourism, but Canberra needs more than this.
Noel Baxendell, Macgregor
Libs vow to decimate PS
Several commentators in The Canberra Times have recently argued that Labor is ''driving down the road'' towards the Liberals' promised public service job cuts.
This misses the fact that the Liberals' policy is to cut between 12,000 and 20,000 public service jobs at the point when they are elected.
The Liberals will not undo the efficiency dividend or our targeted reduction in EL/SES positions. Their cuts will come on top of our recent decisions, not instead of them.
A vote for the Liberals on September 7 is a vote for 12,000-20,000 fewer public servants. For Canberra, that means higher unemployment, more bankruptcies, and lower house prices.
Andrew Leigh, federal member for Fraser
Why Tony is so vague
I predict that if the Liberals win the election, the first thing Tony Abbott will do is to conduct a ''thorough and wide-ranging review of the economy'' and, lo and behold, it'll be much worse than he ever feared. So, of course he'll have to indefinitely postpone his election promises, cut welfare (to encourage the unemployed and single mums to return to work) and cut taxes for the wealthy (to give them incentives to work harder and invest). Isn't it funny how different rules apply to the rich and the poor?
And, of course, when people start complaining, I am sure a few overloaded leaky boats full of refugees will turn up so he can huff and puff and distract our attention. Could this be the reason why we have no details of Coalition policies so far in the campaign? It must be hard to get enthusiastic about policies that you know you'll never have to implement.
David Hicks, Holt
Harry Mount's article ''The birth certificate of freedom'', (Panorama, August 17, p16) is a timely reminder of Magna Carta's relevance. His book may be more detailed, but the article failed to mention that the original Magna Carta was quashed by Pope Innocent III within weeks and subsequent versions were basically ''works in progress''. It was not until Edward I, in 1297, ''inspected'' previous charters and made Magna Carta law. That Inspeximus edition of Magna Carta is now on display in Parliament House, Canberra.
Ian Mathews, Magna Carta Committee of Australia
The Department of Health and Ageing urges us all to register in eHealth. I tried to do just that and found that two people, i.e., husband and wife, cannot be registered if they have the same email address - as I'm sure many spouses do.
If this is not the height of absurdity I don't know what is.
T. Marks, Holt
Two whistleblowers with a difference
Neither Bradley Manning nor Edward Snowden fit the legal definition of ''whistleblower'' according to US law - no matter what S. Kringas (Letters, August 19) and others assert.
Manning did not need to download and make available 700,000 uncensored, classified files to ''expose wrongdoing and provoke discussion about US military and diplomatic affairs''; Snowden did not need to collect classified information while working at Dell, a year before his flight to Hong Kong, then switch jobs ''specifically to gain access to additional top secret documents that could be leaked to the media'' and make that information public.
These two young men - both with ''troubled'' pasts - broke numerous laws, violated terms of their employment … and earned their day in court. The fact both chose WikiLeaks - founded by another ''troubled'' man - as their mouthpiece is highly questionable.
As an American-Australian, I'm disgusted by many deeds done in the name of self-serving, American security - from which Australia benefits mightily.
And let's not pretend that American diplomatic meddling and wire-tapping are new. If we truly believe such things are morally and legally wrong, then let's put our own skin in the game and close Pine Gap and keep the Marines out of Darwin. Otherwise, it's just words.
Judy Bamberger, O'Connor
Sexism never OK
As a woman, a mother of daughters and a son and a grandmother to grandsons, I am astounded that Jack Waterford (''Rudd has mislaid his moral compass'', Forum, August 17, p1) thinks it is OK to say that Tony Abbott is ''sexist in the ordinary, blokey sense … not very wickedly'' as though somehow that is not really a problem.
When will men like Jack realise it is simply unacceptable for sexism to be a part of how men treat women in Australia in the 21st century?
I really thought that women of my generation had fought these battles in the 1970s and 1980s, naively I even thought that perhaps we had won them.
As long as dinosaurs such as Jack are published, I wonder if Australia will ever be a society without the demeaning spectre of sexism hanging over the heads of all Australian women.
Fiona Allan, Ngunnawal
TO THE POINT
A POINT ON POPULATION
Paul Remington (Letters, August 10) says he would rather ''drink battery acid than preference Labor, the Coalition or the so-called Greens'' granted their policies on population. He has a point. All have connived in endless growth, including the Greens, who supported the Gillard government as it broke its election promise to get us off the Big Australia path.
Greg Delaney, Amaroo
THORN IN ABBOTT'S SIDE
Caroline Le Couteur (Letters, August 17) is miffed that the Liberals will preference the Greens last. Other than Labor and a few independents, any challenge for winnable seats comes from the Greens. The Greens were as pragmatic when they parachuted a candidate with GetUp! and go into the ACT Senate race. If the roadside ads are to be believed, Simon Sheikh's primary purpose is not to support the ACT but to not support Tony Abbott.
John Bromhead, Rivett
POLLIES FLUFFING LINES
Tony Abbott's statement that no one person (the Prime Minister), could be the ''suppository'' of all knowledge, recognises that Kevin Rudd has been responsible for fugitive emissions. Of course Tony could, as actors and politicians do, have merely ''fluffed his lines'', making him responsible for more of the same. One hopes that the Greens have been duly monitoring these events.
Peter Baskett, Murrumbateman, NSW
DUMBING DOWN ABC TV
Why is ABC dumbing down evening TV? Time of Our Lives is bad enough on Sundays. Now Thursday evening is a disgrace! Add to this the painful over-advertising of its programs. Makes it hard to keep watching.
Auriel Barlow, Dickson
DRUNK WITH AMBITION
Michael Thorn (''Times for the truth on limited drinking hours'', Times2, August 15, p5) hit the nail on the head when he said that Clubs ACT opposed the reduction of drinking hours in pubs and clubs because of its vested interest in making money out of people, regardless of the number of alcohol-related domestic assaults, road fatalities and health problems caused by alcohol abuse in the Canberra community.
Howard Bradbury, Campbell
ENOUGH ON FERGUSON
Would it be too much to ask that The Canberra Times might manage at least a week without a photo of Blake Ferguson, who appears almost daily, sometimes twice, in the same edition? I suspect we all know him well enough now to know whom to call should we find him perched on our roof.
Brian Triglone, Torrens