Chance to kiss Hockey?

I don't have a problem with Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott selling their time and company to the big end of town. However, these businessmen are not paying for privileged access to senior members of the Liberal Party, they're paying for access to senior members of the government.

These opportunities arise because of and are inherently linked to their respective positions. So, as it would with any other public servant, that money should go into consolidated revenue, not into the coffers of the Liberal Party. It might be an example of both leaders ''not thinking in terms of [their] jobs but in terms of [their] country''. Or is that just another example of do what I say, not what I do?

Actually, on the subject of selling their time and company, it reminds me of another occupation often compared to politics. I suspect that Pretty Woman may not have been the box office success that it was had one of these two played the Julia Roberts role. I wonder what Mr Hockey's rules for those successful subscribers will be about ''kissing on the lips''?

Phil Johnston, Ainslie

What's really offensive

So Joe Hockey thinks that the wind turbines around Lake George are ''utterly offensive'' and ''a blight on the landscape.'' (''Hockey's wind-farm attack stirs ACT anger'', May 3, p5). I suggest Joe that you look at open cut mining or what's left of a native forest after clear felling. That, sir, is utterly offensive and a blight on the landscape.

Barbara Godfrey, Lyneham


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For me the vista of wind farms is elegant and a pure expression of form follows function representing the small possibility that perhaps my children's children may have a future. For Australia, our contribution to climate action is clearly the use of renewables. It is frightening that an important member of our Parliament would subscribe to a parochial view on such a profoundly important issue.

Chris Hansen, Rivett

I find Mr Hockey utterly offensive because of his selfish disregard for the future of the planet and all the creatures and plants that live on it.

Garth Hartley, Kambah

So Joe Hockey thinks the beautiful wind farm on the Bungendore side of Lake George is a blight on the countryside. Perhaps he would prefer a nice big coal-fired power station.

J. Nesbitt, Page

Joe's own pension plan

How magnanimous - and disingenuous at the same time - of Joe Hockey to propose that the ''retirement age'' (actually, the age pension eligibility age) be increased to 70 for those born after 1965. Joe will never be eligible for the age pension, irrespective of when he was born (August 1965, I believe), because his income (a very generous parliamentary pension at a minimum) will be too much and - most likely - his assets will be also too much.

Then there's the very generous parliamentary pension - said to be more than $200,000 per annum - when he leaves Parliament. Not at the superannuation preservation age of 55-60 (or the proposed 65) which applies to the rest of us. And it will be more generously indexed than the age pension.

Joe could actually ''retire'' right now if he wanted to and live more than comfortably.

Joe, if you really want to end the age of entitlement, start first with the more than generous benefits to which MPs are entitled, and begin by making MPs' parliamentary pension entitlements (including those of existing MPs) subject to the same superannuation preservation requirements that apply to the rest of the population. You should also tie the indexation to the age pension indexation.

Don Sephton, Greenway

Russia trade wrong

Australia just sent its largest consignment of live cattle to Russia while Foreign Minister Julie Bishop ''condemn[s] in the strongest terms Russian President Vladimir Putin's move to annex the Ukrainian territory of Crimea''. Our government initiated targeted sanctions to ''reaffirm Australia's clear and unequivocal support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,'' yet continues day-to-day business with Russia as though nothing has changed.

It appears the cattle barons and big business have large enough influence on our government to continue and expand economic relations with a country we condemn and sanction.

If that isn't duplicitous and confused, I don't know what is!

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

In favour of furballs

A long history of kangaroo culls, warnings about flying foxes, and now a peon of hate against possums (''Permanent possum magic is goal of combiner against 'evil furballs','' May 3, p1).

Can Canberra really claim to be the ''Bush Capital'' when there seems to be such a dislike of any native creature that hops, flies or climbs?

Kevin Baker, Yass, NSW

If there were indeed a ''possum problem'' in the ACT that merited a front-page report then it should have met journalistic standards of balance, integrity and and factual accuracy - none of these evident in the article printed.

Jane Baker, Yass, NSW

Year by year, generation after generation of possums has arrived in the trees at the front of our house. Each night we put a little food out for them. After a while we gain their trust and, what a feeling, to be able to hand-feed this wonderful animal. Sometimes we are able to pat them as they eat. Our current house possum lives in a box right above our back door.

When he/she wakes of an evening I say hello as I go out. We are less than 50 centimetres apart. Another has had a home in our garage. Some nights we have had three of the little cuties sitting in the trees waiting for their dinner. We have many fruit trees and are happy to share our produce. None of our neighbours have had possum troubles and we tell them that's because they are all over at our house. How can anyone think these wonderful native animals are pests?

Mike Lankuts, Gilmore

Nanny-state football

How sad it was to see nanny-state stupidity take over Star Track Oval management after the Giants game on Saturday.

Ground staff delayed for 10 minutes the customary after-game kick-to-kick session in an apparent effort to channel all kids through gate openings and deny them the fun of jumping the fence. What next? Maybe we will all end up having to wear seatbelts in the stands! Wake up management before you get a class action for gross stupidity.

Peter M. Kelly, Hackett

DMO workforce so bloated it's become 'self-licking icecream'

I find it hilarious that Warren King, the CEO of the Defence Materiel Organisation, has defended the hard work and value of his bloated and over-classified workforce. It is almost as comical to see the Defence People Group leadership getting showered by accolades from their friends in not-so-reputable media channels.

DMO has lost its way and forgotten it exists to support the minister and the services. Governance of governance abounds to justify non-jobs. People whose sole job is to file paper claim equivalence to ADF commissioned officers. Jokes abound about the ''race to Platinum frequent flyer status'' on taking jobs in DMO.

Defence People Group was once headed by a single two-star military officer. In a short time it has grown to 1400 APS positions presided over by a further three SES band 2s and an SES band 3 position. It is no wonder that it's now referred to as ''self-licking ice-cream'' in defence circles.

The current plans for APS cuts in defence need to be deeper … much deeper.

Michael Mackay, Turner

Deficits exaggerated

The implications of budget deficits and the growth of debt (in the immediate post-GFC environment) are being exaggerated. While Labor governments do love a good spend and there are time-servers in the APS (as in most large enterprises), moderate deficits created by investment is what good, forward-looking economic management looks like. And our AAA credit-rating and more-than-acceptable debt/GDP ratio clearly show debt levels aren't interesting.

It's pretty simple really. Of course, they can't come out and say this, but this LNP government, like others before it, is just clearing the ideological decks to create fiscal room for it to buy re-election via expenditure in its own supporters' areas of ideological obsession and in its own marginal electorates. Such as converting emissions-saving to pork. And redundancy packages and dumping programs.

This town has worked to cynical politicians forever. So please save us from idiot ''razor gang'' political lackeys demanding sacked public servants lie back and think of Australia!

Veronica Giles, Chifley

Give us some hope

The Prime Minister, Treasurer, and cohorts are constantly lecturing to us in their monotonously booming or rasping voices, about the ''budget'', ''deficit'', the need to ''return to surplus'', ''income tax hike'' and the fact that the ''age of entitlement'' is now over. Surely one of the responsibilities of a national government is to encourage its people, give them grounds for optimism, hope, and the realisation that things will work out if we work together and if those who are leading act in the best interests of all Australians, not just those with the wealth, connections, and the means to lobby the politicians.

Pulling together includes the multinationals, monopolies, industries, commercial and mining interests, and those on super incomes. Politicians who should also lead by example. The unedifying spectacle of graft and corruption that continues to unfold is sickening.

The other responsibility of a national government is to be creative, not destructive. Wholesale cut and slash is promised: vale the environment, health and welfare services, research, education, the arts and culture.

The poor, homeless, asylum seekers, and those with mental health problems, will draw the short straw. How long before we all draw the short straw? Don't take Australians for granted, Prime Minister. Keep squeezing the pips, overtax most people's essential good nature and generosity, and civil unrest is a possibility, even in the Lucky Country.

Judy Kelly, Aranda

When a levy is taxing

Those of us who studied English history at school will remember that William Pitt the Younger introduced income tax as a temporary measure in 1798 to pay for the war against Napoleon. The tax was repealed in 1816, a year after Waterloo. Robert Peel reintroduced the tax in 1842 for three years with a possible two-year extension, and a succession of 19th- century prime ministers all promised to repeal it at some time in the future but never actually managed to do so.

There is no chance of history repeating itself with a temporary deficit levy, is there? After all, a levy is not a tax, is it?

John Rogers, Cook

When a tax is good

Like Chris Williams (Letters, May 5) I also support the sole defensible idea to have come from this government: a progressive tax increase on high income earners, addressing in part the unsustainable tax reductions of previous governments, notably of Abbott's hero, John Howard.

This is the one policy that the Liberal Party Lite (aka the Labor Party) should be keen to support but, instead, they're out-Liberaling the Liberals in their shrill opposition to any tax increases. Of course, it's no substitute for reining in corporate welfare, making big business pay its fair share and taxing polluters up the wazoo but at least it's a move in the right direction.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

Policies of lunacy

When Ronald Reagan became US President in 1980, he asked business groups to make a wish-list. Their wish-list became government policy.

Tony Abbott's Commission of Audit has the same purpose. Its report is a corporate wish-list. No rise in company tax. Family trust tax evasion remains intact. Lesser mortals rescue the Budget.

But it gets worse. The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal (that Abbott plans to sign) creates a business court that regulates governments. Business will be free of governments that act in the public interest. Goodbye democracy. Hello plutocracy.

Let's hope Abbott's Commission of Audit sinks as quickly. Or lunacy could become government policy.

Graham Macafee, Latham

Causing economic grief to today's young

It was interesting to read Paul McGeough's article (''US college system no model for Australian education'', Forum, May 3, p4), because I had been listening to the BBC in the past week and there had been a poignant story about the plight of college graduates whose education debts were so large they were struggling to repay them and would probably never be able to get a mortgage to buy a home.

Since I was one of the lucky ones able to take advantage of the Whitlam government's free tertiary education scheme - as, I suspect, were most of our political leaders - I was able to get my degree as a mature-age student with children also undertaking their degree or in high school. I could never have contemplated this had it been in this day and age. The result was that I was able to contribute to the family income much more substantially (and to the national tax income in the 20 years that followed) than had I not had that opportunity, and, through subsequent superannuation savings, make my retirement much more secure than if I had not been able to earn the salary my degree provided me.

It annoys me these men and women who benefited so much from the abolition of tertiary fees have no qualms about causing maximum economic grief to today's young people.

Margaret Lee, Hawker

Exorbitant tuition fees by US colleges, whose main aim is high profits, continue to yield abysmal student outcomes.

Gone are the days when a university based its admission policy on the students' academic achievements, rather than their ability to meet the high fees, which is clearly beyond the reach of many.

It makes one rather cynical to note our government is willing to spend taxpayers' money on buying fighter planes at a cost of many billions of dollars but is reluctant to invest in tertiary education, upon which the nation's future depends.

Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW



I strongly object to the constant references to Tony Abbott's lies and broken promises being referred to as a Gillard moment. They are all his own lies and broken promises, more like a John Howard core and non-core promise.

E.R. Haddock, Weston


There will be no change to the diesel fuel rebate for mining companies. There will be no end to the age of this $4.5 billion worth of entitlement for them. Gina Rinehart can't afford it. Oh and Joe, do the mining companies donate to your election slush funds?

John Passant, Kambah


Liberal apologist H. Ronald (Letters, May 2) says we are ready to handle the truth. Could he please let us know which of Tony Abbott's pre-election promises were the truth?

Michael Duffy, Curtin


What will the ideologically driven, wrecking-ball extremists do for Canberra when the city suffers a disastrous recession thanks to the sacking of thousands of public servants, the closing of agencies and the moving of agencies interstate?

Chris Lathbury, Fadden


Meredith Pettett (Letters, May 1) expressed disappointment that the National Library of Australia was open on Good Friday morning. The library was not, and never is, open on Good Friday. It is one of two days a year - Christmas Day being the other - on which the institution closes.

Anne-Marie Schwirtlich, director-general, National Library of Australia, Parkes


So scientists have created a new element, 40 per cent heavier than lead (''New super-heavy element created'', May 2, p7). Only four atoms were observed and they disappeared in a tenth of a second. How were they weighed? What did the research cost? What is the use of the element?

Michael Travis, Cook


Most of us already pay much more than $6 or $15 over the Medicare benefit for a visit to the GP. The only way a so-called ''co-payment'' can help the federal budget is if it is really a reduction in the Medicare benefit.

A.V. Peterson, Kambah

A pensioner friend on less than $20,000 a year pays $70 for a basic consultation at a GP who does not bulk bill, and Medicare gives him back $36. So why the fuss over a $6 co-payment?

Hugh Jorgahan, Lyons

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