How is it that we have a retirement system that offers more state assistance to the wealthy than low-income earners?
Federal Labor's policy to cut back on wasteful superannuation tax concessions for the wealthy is a good start. These proposed reforms will tinker at the edges of this system to decrease concessions, but if we truly want to make our retirement system fair and sustainable, we need to fundamentally rebalance concessions so that more go to low-income earners.
However, the Coalition now needs to tell Australians what it plans to do to reform current unfair tax breaks for the wealthy.
Labor's policy, which would save $1.4 billion a year, still does not go far enough, when we consider the need to cover the $80 billion budget shortfall for our schools and hospitals.
We need to improve on Labor's policy by also redirecting superannuation tax concessions from the wealthy to everyday Australians, to help fund their retirement and reduce their need for the age pension.
Superannuation should help fund the retirement of everyday Australians, not act as a tax haven for the wealthy.
Ian Paterson, Kambah
Cancel tax breaks
The present silly situation in relation to housing affordability is very much an outcome of the tax concessions given in large measure to high-income earners who were able to negatively gear mortgages on investment housing.
It is also a result of the exemption of the capital gains tax on family homes, which led to the development of McMansions, the destruction of the public housing program, the changes to banking regulations that removed the requirement for banks to be prudent in lending for housing, and the corruption and destruction of urban planning.
Now that the opposition has indicated it would review the provisions enabling negative gearing for high-income earners, we should hope it would take a new approach to the way households are accommodated in Australia.
It would help if it constructed a policy based on the accommodation needs of households rather, than a preoccupation with financial issues.
Patrick Troy, Reid
Ex-MPs on a roll
In February 2014, Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey pronounced "the age of entitlement is over" as a justification for not supporting SPC Ardmona and putting the jobs of many process workers at risk.
He took the same tough line when thousands of GM Holden and Toyota jobs evaporated after the withdrawal of government support.
But it seems one segment of the population has retained its sense of entitlement: MPs themselves. Brett Mason ("Former Liberal senator Brett Mason named as Australia's ambassador to the Netherlands", canberra times.com.au, April 22) is just the latest in a long line of parliamentarians from both sides (Nick Minchin, Alexander Downer, Kim Beazley, Richard Alston, Amanda Vanstone, Mike Rann, etc) to be allowed to jump the queue of qualified diplomats to cushy posts in London, Paris, New York, Washington and Rome.
Naturally, we wouldn't expect such eminent people to be posted to places like sub-Saharan Africa, where the baristas are poorly trained and red wine sometimes spoils in the heat.
It is a bit much to expect the rest of Australia to stop leaning and tighten our belts when parliamentarians can supplement their already stupendous superannuation payouts with massive diplomatic salaries and free accommodation in the world's most expensive cities.
Mike Reddy, Lyons
Claude Wiltshire's applause for Tony Abbott for "espousing Christian morality" (Letters, April 23) is fascinating, because it is a consistent biblical theme that what you do is more important than what you preach. It is also a consistent biblical theme that those well off should help those who aren't and Abbott's policies, which seem aimed at giving more to those who already have everything at the expense of those with little, run contrary to those Christian themes.
I would rather an ethical atheist than someone who belongs to a church, but behaves as though he doesn't.
Stan Marks, Hawker
Small price to pay
Unlike Irfan Yusuf ("So what was Julie Bishop doing in terrible Tehran" (Times2, April 22, p5) , I see no harm in the Foreign Minister wearing a head cover while in the company of the Iranian leader. After all, that is part of the Iranian culture, as is the case in Saudi Arabia.
As Ms Bishop was in Iran to deal with the Iranian refugees issue, as well as reach an understanding over the Islamic State militants, which both countries are helping to eradicate from Iraq, I don't believe Iran would have responded positively to either issue if Ms Bishop had ignored the dress manner while in the company of the Iranian religious leader.
A stylish head cover is a small price to pay if one is seeking a positive outcome from a visit to a country such as Iran.
Sam Nona, Burradoo, NSW
David Stephens' excellent article, "Rebooting Anzac tradition" (Times2, April 23, p1), includes an innovative and worthwhile suggestion: instead of spending the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program and corporate donations on more bricks-and-mortar memorials, make Anzac useful and spend some of this money on Anzac-badged programs that benefit people, perhaps in drug rehabilitation, domestic violence and the support of refugees from today's wars.
Ernst Willheim, Forrest
Commemorating the centenary of the Gallipoli landings is important.
The problem further highlighted this year, however, is that most Australians think only about defence issues, if at all, on Anzac Day and then only in a historical, mythological or sentimental perspective.
Paying due attention to Australia's future strategic security means sustained defence investment is needed over the long term, and this is not somehow discretionary.
Moreover, our perennial underinvestment in national defence infrastructure is causing serious inter-generational inequity. Not paying our fair share now means inevitable high catch-up costs for future taxpayers to repair our neglect. We are also selfishly inflicting greater strategic risk on our children and grandchildren.
Defence issues don't sway votes now only because those most affected by our current complacency and neglect can't vote to stop it, as most of them are not born yet.
Neil James, executive director, Australia Defence Association
The abundance of writing about our Anzac heroes makes one thing clear, we are talking about the bewildered responses of ordinary men and women caught up in events far beyond their experience or expectations. Responses varied from man to man. The best were noble and inspiring and, as they were on the "right" side, we can truly glorify all of them for winning the war.
How can we adequately express our gratitude for their sacrifice? Certainly, attendance at a dawn service or Anzac march is a worthy way, but there must be more.
I believe that in our daily lives each of us must elect to do what they did under duress. We must learn to respond nobly to the many threats and challenges of our regular lives. We must be peacemakers in every situation. We must commit ourselves without reserve to good causes. We must oppose the evil ones with similar vigour.
John Miller, Farrer
Jack's work vital
While I fully understand and support Jack Waterford's decision to devote more time to his grandchildren ("End of an era as Waterford leaves Canberra Times", April 23, p1), his work is so important that we must all urge him to keep going. Jack simply cannot be replaced.
For more than 40 years, he has exposed the cant, perfidy and humbug of politicians, public servants, the legal profession and the police. From the loud, long-haired, obnoxious student at anti-war rallies in the '70s to his ridicule of silly projects to waste more ACT taxpayers' money, Jack has been consistent throughout.
He was right about Vietnam. He is right about Aborigines. He was right about the Iraq war.
He bravely fought the battle for David Eastman's conviction to be overturned. He is right about freedom of information, and he is right that we don't need another sporting edifice as a personal monument to ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
Along the way, he attracted many enemies, but he earned respect from many, many more people in Canberra and in the broader Australian community for his exposure of injustice, his advocacy for the voiceless and his crusade against institutional secrecy.
He has ensured that Australian society has remained essentially open and free, despite the constant attempts by governments and their servants, corporations and others to limit those freedoms.
Like a good wine, Jack has improved with age. His recent diatribes against government hyperbole, the Gungahlin tram and empty sporting stadiums have been an absolute pleasure to read.
It's good that Jack is not going forever, and that he will continue to write a weekly column. He needs to, or our community will suffer and the fools will prevail. Thank you, Jack, but your work is not done yet.
Warwick Beutler, Farrer
Jack Waterford launched my latest book with the words: "A damn fine book". May I return the compliment, Jack – a damn fine career! Congratulations and best wishes for your freelance career.
Elizabeth Manning Murphy, Isaacs
I was so glad to read that, after all these years, we are not losing Jack Waterford altogether.
I believe I can speak for all of us at Goodwin Village Ainslie who enjoyed Mr Waterford's appearance as guest speaker here recently, as I wish him every success in the years ahead, happiness and the enjoyment of his grandchildren.
Evelyn Bean, Ainslie
TO THE POINT
CHRISTIAN VALUES LACKING
Claude Whiltshire (Letters, April 23) clearly hasn't been paying attention – not in Sunday school or to current political events. Christian and religious moral values include honesty, compassion, assistance to the needy and respect. None of these have been shown by the current Prime Minister.
Jenny Handke, Kambah
WAR PENSION CUTS
How ironic that Tony Abbott has left the country to attend the most significant military commemoration for Australia at the same time as we learn of his intention to lower pensions for war veterans ("Veterans groups use Anzac centenary to fire up over pension reforms", canberratimes.com.au, April 22).
Robyn Lewis, Raglan, NSW
'THE SAND JOINS THEM'
May I quote the last lines from Kenneth Slessor's poem Beach Burial: "Whether as enemies they fought,/ Or fought with us, or neither, the sand joins them together, /Enlisted on the other front." Appropriate thinking for Anzac Day.
Cynthia Moloney, Yarralumla
PEOPLE SHOULD BE NAMED
Ann Darbyshire (Letter, April 22) seems to have some ideas about the Eastman case and, probably quite rightly, does not see the need to name the purveyors, or the names of the subjects, of the rumours she quotes. Can she explain how Justice Martin, in his recent inquiry, reached the conclusion that he was "fairly certain" of Mr Eastman's guilt?
Roger Terry, Kingston
HELD TO RANSOM
Would Qantas care to explain why it is possible to book a flight from Melbourne to Perth for $275, while the only fare offered from Melbourne to Canberra costs $179? Is there a surcharge for flying uphill or is it another case of holding the Canberra market to ransom?
Cliff Brock, Flynn
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