Letters to the Editor

Governments failing in their duty to tax Glencore

Michael West is right to assert that the directors of serial tax avoider Glencore have a ''duty'' to minimise the company's tax liabilities (''Glencore tax bill on $15b income: zip, zilch, zero'',, June 27).

Of course, the Australian government also has a ''duty'' to ensure that the likes of Glencore are required to pay a reasonable level of tax in return for being able to pillage our country's natural resources.

The French novelist Honore de Balzac offered a fascinating insight when he wrote that ''Behind every great fortune lies a great crime''. The fact that Australian governments of all persuasions have failed to conclude a multilateral anti-tax avoidance agreement that would bring the Glencores of this world to account is surely evidence enough of the great crimes being perpetrated against our country by our elected politicians.

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW

How to stay rich

Has Clive Palmer lost his mind? Is he hopelessly confused? Neither. He is acting out of self-interest, but to understand why requires a bit of thinking (''Shock and Gore: Palmer shows his hand'', June 26, p1). The basis for keeping your wealth after you get rich is the creation of restrictions against new competitors.

To the extent that an emissions trading scheme makes petroleum and coal scarcer and more expensive, the revenues and profits earned by the existing owners of petroleum and coal reserves rise. The regulatory state is all about some companies (usually big ones) clobbering other companies (usually medium and small ones) via the powers of government.


The super-rich support the welfare state because an expanded federal government can regulate more of the economy.

The feature of this hustle is that it does not benefit the hoi polloi.

Any time the state is involved in production and exchange, there are winners and losers, the looters and the looted.

Victor Diskordia, McKellar

Morally bankrupt

Shame on this morally bankrupt government. The photos of Coalition frontbenchers congratulating themselves on the passing of the repeal of the carbon tax (''Party time in the House'', Canberra Times iPad edition, June 27) were sickening.

The basis of their electioneering last September [was] based on lies told on the carbon tax. No town has been wiped off the map, legs of lamb are still affordable and so on. We have a system that is working to the betterment of our environment and this government high-fives itself on getting rid of it.

A promise is a promise, they will say; a pox on their promises, I say.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham

So who in this country seriously believes prices and charges will drop with the removal of the carbon tax?

I suppose when the tax goes and nothing changes the old non-core promise rubbish will be wheeled out and toothless organisations like the ACCC, etc, will be nowhere to be seen. I am willing to bet on it.

Linus Cole, Palmerston

Dearer power

Modelling from the Abbott government's preferred consultants, ACIL Allen, has demonstrated that cutting the renewable energy target will increase electricity prices beyond 2020.

This is despite some very fossil-fuel-friendly assumptions, including that there will be no price on carbon emissions out to 2030.

It joins modelling from Schneider Electric, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, ROAM consulting and Sinclair Knight Merz, all of which showed that weakening the RET will cost consumers more in the long run.

It is also consistent with the RET review submission from the Australian Industry Group, which included ''given the widely corroborated effect of the RET in lowering wholesale prices, significant reductions in the RET would deliver mediocre or negative benefits to energy users''.

Given all this evidence, it is clear that if the Abbott government does weaken the RET, it is not doing so to lower electricity prices. The most likely reason it would do so is to protect the profits of the fossil fuel generators.

David Osmond, Dickson

Pay up, or else

Markus Mannheim (''Investors risk losing land over late rates'', June 25, p1) quotes the president of the ACT Ratepayers Association as saying that it ''was no longer compatible with contemporary attitudes towards privacy [for the ACT government to publish the names of property owners who 'forget' to pay their rates]''.

What the … ! Does this principle also apply to those people who have their names published as having forgotten their superannuation or bank accounts? This would be a perversion of the intention of privacy laws on both counts.

The principle that does apply is that one must meet their obligations to the rest of the community or suffer consequences. If people need to be ''reminded'' that, if they own land they are liable to pay rates, then I suggest they be barred from owning such property ever on grounds of incompetence; and in any case it is difficult to believe one isn't given notice before action is taken against them.

The sense of entitlement that the miscreant property owners have that other ratepayers (like myself) should pick up the slack is unacceptable. The only reason I can think of for not paying rates (unless they are being contested) is debilitating mental illness. I would hope the ATO checks the list of names to ensure they have not claimed rate payments on their negatively geared income tax return.

K. Bell, Kambah

Light rail a mistake

Shane Rattenbury (''Light rail has a strong foundation in the territory'', Forum, June 21, pB9) continues to rely on false supports to bolster his pitch. He rehashes his fond memories of a subsidised trip to Portland, Oregon, but neglects the telling statistics: Canberra is over twice the area with 40 per cent fewer people.

He needs to substantiate this claim: ''Walter Burley Griffin planned Canberra to include a citywide, median-strip tram network.'' The maps show Griffin imagined an underground freight line from what was meant to be the market area (Russell Hill). It ran under Reid, under the city, then parallel to Northbourne Avenue.

This statement is eye-popping: ''nor will it require all of Northbourne Avenue to be dug up''. The qualifier ''all'' is a cute bit of sophistry; we lose the beauty of the boulevard, the gum-lined median strip. Apparently, this is what Griffin wanted.

Perhaps most insulting is the ridiculous ideological myth-making, with light rail cast as a beacon of progressive politics. The Canberra Liberals, totally on the nose by association with Abbott, have had this gift thrown into their laps. Light rail is a massive political blunder.

Peter Robinson, Ainslie

I lived in Portland for seven years. When light rail was built, the surrounding area was a mess for a long time; many businesses in major corridors were impacted significantly.

Once up and running, light rail became the vastly preferred means to travel between suburbs and city. Park-and-rides along the route overflowed from the grand opening; commuter-hour trains were standing room only . For many of us, light rail became the only way to travel suburb-to-city - convenient, economical, worry-free.

Portland, then, had about a million people; rush-hour traffic jams caused at least 30-minute delays each way, every work day. Quite different from Canberra now. Yet, I believe it's critically important to do something now to prepare for Canberra's future.

I'm just not sure light rail is the right solution for us.

I challenge the ACT government to perform a six to 12-month ''live'' pilot: operate buses as closely as possible along the planned Gungahlin-Civic route; establish park-and-rides with extremely reduced fares - perhaps free - to attract riders. Let actual data do the talking - not computer models, not comparisons with other cities, not boosters or fearmongers.

Only then can we argue effectively for or against light rail. Right now it's all intangible, ephemeral fluff.

Judy Bamberger, O'Connor

On your bicycle

Incoming chief of the Australian Defence Force Mark Binskin rides his motorbike to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (''New defence chief on his bike for a good cause'', June 25, p3).

This laudable effort is somehow marred by the fact that riding a motorbike doesn't provide much physical exercise.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, physical activity can decrease the risk of developing a range of cancers:

If Air Marshal Binskin was to courageously relinquish that passivity-inducing motorcycle in favour of an aggressively active pedal cycle, he would not only be demonstrating heightened awareness of, and commitment against, the cancerous enemy but spearheading a strategic defensive assault in the war against that other infiltrating global threat: the cancer of climate change.

Jorge Gapella, Kaleen

Mystery of death

Jamie died in my arms. It was a simple death - a painless injection and she died within seconds. Jamie had a terminal illness and her life had dragged on needlessly. In both her death and her life Jamie was treated humanely.

However, Ted, who also had a terminal illness, had to endure unimaginable pain for months, morphine providing only limited effectiveness. His quality of life destroyed in fetid body wastes and blood along with his dignity, despite the best efforts of medical staff.

The way he died is constantly on my mind and I wonder why it is that in celebrating the mystery of our lives, the best we can hope and pray for is a peaceful death.

Ted's death didn't follow the peaceful simplicity of Jamie but then Ted, my father, was a human being, Jamie was a dog. Why is it we treat animals humanely and humans inhumanely?

James Grenfell, Spence

To the point


We, the people, are entitled to an explanation from the judiciary, the AFP and the relevant parliamentary authority as to why only one trough-snouter is being prosecuted for misuse of a parliamentary allowance when all the other questionable claimants have been allowed to repay their false payments.

J.P.H. Trinder, Queanbeyan, NSW


Well may ex-federal minister Peter Reith advocate silence in the face of alleged injustice on the part of Egyptian authorities. Why not also suspend all livestock trade as well? As a higher authority said some time ago to Egypt: ''Let my people go!''

Greg Simmons, Lyons


I can't wait for our guardians of absolute free speech - Senator Brandis, Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt et al - to express their outrage at the cancellation of a talk on Islamic honour killing at Sydney's Festival of Dangerous Ideas. Inspired by their hero Voltaire, I fully expect that even though they might agree that the content ''crosses a line'' they'll fight to the death in defence of the right to say it.

Michael Williams, Curtin


I thought the time would never come when I agreed with an opinion from H.Ronald (Letters, June 26). But it has! I'm not sure what that proves; that no one is irredeemable perhaps?

Mary Braithwaite, Rivett


Does anybody care about the fate of the workers who installed Mr Fluffy loose asbestos insulation? Did any of them develop asbestos-related diseases, with their considerable exposure to the fibres? They are at much higher risk than present home owners and buyers.

Dr Marjorie Curtis, Kaleen

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