Letters to the editor

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Andrew Barr needs to get his facts straight (''IT agencies want existing contracts exempt from new tax'', June 18, p2) The payroll tax rate is 6.85 per cent not 6.5 per cent as quoted.

The ACT does not have ''one of the lowest rates of payroll tax in the country'' as Barr claims. We have the highest rate. The lowest is 4.75 per cent.

The truth about this new tax is that contractors will see a reduction in their take-home pay of far more than 6.85 per cent as it is levied on every dollar the recruiter pays to the management company. Barr's new tax will mean contractors will be taxed more harshly than big business.

Contractors will pay a 6.85 per cent tax on every dollar they earn, while big business is offered generous payroll tax-free thresholds.

Contractors will pay the tax on gross revenue before expenses are deducted, while big business only pays payroll tax on the value of an employee's salary package. That this tax is levied on revenue in this way is clearly unfair.

As a result, contractors will face an effective rate of tax that is even higher than 6.85 per cent.

This tax is being introduced at the same time the already generous payroll tax-free threshold is raised to benefit big business. Contractors will face the highest rate of payroll tax in the country, while big business enjoys the most generous payroll tax-free threshold in the country.

Sarah Hulbert, Giralang


Road rage outrage

Like many Australians, I was born overseas and do not speak with an Aussie accent. I'm a 63-year-old retiree and earlier this year while visiting family in the ACT I was the victim of racial vilification during a road rage incident. In sum, I politely asked a truck driver who was delivering goods in a suburban street to move his truck, which was blocking the street, to allow our and other cars to pass.

The driver shouted in reply, ''F--- off, you idiot'', and ''F--- off, you wanker'', followed soon after by ''You're not f---ing Australian. F--- off back to where you come from.'' Under the threat of calling the police he drove off. This incident occurred in the presence of my adult children and an independent witness. I provided a written statement to the ACT police but was advised that no offence had been committed.

I complained to ACT Attorney-General and Police Minister Simon Corbell who, in essence, said the decision not to prosecute was a matter for the police. Clearly, the ACT government has nothing to fear from George Brandis' proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act - from my experience it seems that, as the law currently stands, you can't be racially vilified in the ACT anyway.

Paul Leonard, Bruce


Off the rails

I'm afraid, Baden Williams (Letters, June 20) is being a bit optimistic in expecting Shane Rattenbury to give him honest answers about whatever data or modelling justifies the intended Gunghalin tramway; he is a politician after all. Simon Corbell won't be much use either, and even though his boss Katy has been banging on about open government for several years - just Google ''Katy Gallagher'' and ''transparency'' - apparently neither can give a stuff about what she preaches.

At least he can draw comfort that their very secrecy is probably a good indication that they are starting to harbour doubts about the process and looking forward to being elsewhere when the bills start rolling in.

Bill Deane, Chapman

Timetable flawed

Rather than writing ''puff'' pieces about a proposed light rail system (''Light rail has a strong foundation in the territory'', Forum, June 21, p9) which is neither wanted nor needed, minister Rattenbury - who does not have ministerial responsibility for Capital Metro (minister Corbell has, I believe) - should direct his efforts to improving the performance of ACTION, for which he does have responsibility.

The prime focus must be on increasing fare-box revenue, by providing services people want and would use. As an example, I play bridge on Tuesday afternoons in Deakin. I travel there and back by car and it takes me 12-15 minutes each way. Were I to attempt the same outbound journey by bus, from Coolemon Court, that journey would take at least 45 minutes - provided I make the cross-connection at Woden interchange, from platform 10 to platform 4, in the one minute allowed in the timetable!

If I miss that connection, then it's another hour until the next bus, which is too late! I have not even looked at the return journey by bus. I suspect there are many similar examples in other parts of Canberra. So, minister, let's make what we already have work - rather than what we may or may not have some time in the future.

Paul E. Bowler, Holder

Protest unsurprising

It is remarkable that the public can be angered by the ''vandalism'' at the Farrer Parks and Conservation depot yet completely unaffected by the killing of kangaroos. This illustrates the ways in which we classify property as more valuable than life. By condemning the ''vandalism'' rather than condemning the killing of kangaroos, we are buying into the illusion that property is worth more than life itself. It is not unusual for social movements to implement radical forms of protest given the public remains unmoved by moral and ethical argument.

For example, freedom fighters in Nazi Germany liberated Holocaust victims and destroyed equipment that the Nazis used to kill their victims. These kinds of actions are important symbolically because they target private property ownership as a cause of animal subjugation as animals themselves are treated as property and objects.

Using moral and ethical argument is important but unfortunately ignored by those in power. Is it any surprise that individuals are choosing to engage in other protest actions - especially given they are repeatedly ignored?

Lara Drew, Page

 

Labor led the way

Frank Marrs (Letters, June 23) has used the words ''extraordinary'' and ''reprehensible'' to describe the Coalition's behaviour in 1975. I wonder how he would describe the Australian Labor Party's 170 attempts between 1950 and 1970 to use the Senate against Coalition governments exactly as Fraser used it against Labor in 1975, with Whitlam as the architect of the last two attempts against the Holt government in 1967 and the Gorton government in 1970? Labor's list was tabled in the Senate by senator Lionel Murphy as he sought to justify and move the last attempt. If you provide your political opponents with 170 precedents you can hardly be surprised when the tables are turned.

David Smith, Mawson

In the interests of world peace, don't mention the 'o' word

I must draw attention to Mark Kenny's use of extreme, outdated non-politically correct language in his column on Friday (''Abbott walks tall counselling military caution'', Times2, June 20, p5). In it he refers to the D-Day event of June 6, 1944, as leading to the liberation of ''occupied'' France. Kenny must know that the very same Australian Prime Minister and his Foreign Affairs Minister have condemned the ''o'' word as pejorative and judgmental, inimical to the peace process.

Kenny should have characterised D-Day as leading to the liberation of ''disputed France'', and eventually of disputed Europe. The ''o'' word must be hurtful to the feelings of some of our most important European friends, including those who, far in advance of our own country, are prepared to accept and even to re-elect a female chief executive of their government.

A. Moore, Melba


Foolish rush to arms

Gary Humphries (''Nobility in protecting Iraq'', Times2, June 20, p4) has called for Western military intervention in Iraq. How soon can we see him in army uniform, ready to serve in this new intervention? Having sidestepped the deceptive ''grounds'' for the disastrous Bush invasion, he wants more Australians to die in another rush to arms. How timely, just as we are about to spend four years and more than $140 million ''celebrating'' the disastrous (eight months long) invasion of Turkey in 1915. See a pattern here yet, Gary Humphries?

Gallipoli 1915, Archangel (Russia) 1919, Malaya (as it was then) 1950s, Borneo (as it was) and Vietnam 1960s, first and second Gulf Wars, Afghanistan. When pollies join up and serve under fire, then they might (I stress ''might'') have a basis to call for other families' sons and daughters to die in foreign wars. We all await with interest ''another column, another time'' on the ''justification'' for our second invasion of Iraq.

Rod Olsen, Flynn


Progressive Greens

Lotte Beaupipe (Letters, June 20) says ''the Greens' best ideas come from renegade left-Laborites who have joined them''. As the inaugural policy co-ordinator for the Greens NSW in 1994 and national policy co-ordinator a few years later, I can assure Beaupipe that Greens' policies, which are developed in consultation with the people who have the most knowledge and expertise in a particular field, have always been progressive.

As a result, disenchanted Labor members and voters have joined us, together with a growing number of people who want to see more humanity and a visionary approach which will take us peacefully and sustainably into the next century. This will never happen while we keep electing people who are the puppets of big business and/or whose ideology is based on survival of the fittest.

Catherine Moore, Charleys Forest, NSW


Mandate of lies

P.M. Button (Letters, June 17) may be correct about continuing criticism of the Abbott government but he need only reflect on the actions of the then opposition leader and his supporters in the three years leading up to the last election and the numerous barefaced lies by both Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey during the campaign to find the reason. However, he was surely kidding when he spoke about no alternatives being provided by critics, and government mandates. Since the devil is always in the detail, mandates for particular policies are always debatable irrespective of voter disposition towards either of the major parties.When a government betrays the trust of the electorate, it can claim no mandate for anything simply because had it revealed its true intentions, voters may have chosen an entirely different path.

Democracy will face its biggest test at the next federal election when voters will decide if future governments have a mandate to lie to the electorate or if they will be held to account. Let's hope that principles of honesty and a fair go will come up trumps. Oh, for a modern, inspirational democratic party. Even a small ''l'' Liberal Party with a social conscience, or a Labor Party with true leadership and nous would suffice.

Jon Stirzaker, Latham


Misguided energy

Professor Andrew Blakers (Letters, June 20) runs the risk of misleading your readers. The focus of the letter is solar-generated electricity, so comments such as ''nearly one quarter of world electricity production now comes from renewable energy'' might lead some to think solar is a major part of this. The latest global figures from the US Department of Energy put solar's share of global electricity production in 2010 at 0.17 per cent. Total renewables and hydro are 21 per cent, but hydro contributes the lion's share (17 per cent) and wind energy most of the rest.

The world desperately needs to use less carbon-fuelled electricity (by efficiency or substituting lower-carbon sources), but overstating the role that solar can play distracts from the tough questions about providing the reliable, continuous supply of electricity on which modern industrialised societies totally depend.

Blakers' blithe vision of 100 per cent renewable energy for Australia within 26 years begs for answers about storage of electricity from intermittent supplies like wind and solar. Even more importantly, who's going to wear the cost of ditching the billions of dollars invested in existing technology, and who's going to wear the cost of the billions needed for new technology?

Grant Battersby, Barton

As he obviously has knowledge of technical advances, could Professor Andrew Blakers (Letters, June 20) explain the technology which will allow Canberra homes to be warmed on a still minus-two-degree winter's night in Canberra.

Ken McPhan, Spence

 

Planning needs more than thought bubbles

Tony Trobe's interview (''Successful cities need to develop plans that are not car-centric'', June 15, p12) of Timothy Papandreou, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's strategic planning, was a breath of fresh air.

Most of those driving discussions about Canberra's future seem to consider that an occasional thought bubble is all that is required. Most of them want ''growth'' as they believe that is the way to create jobs for a bigger Canberra.

What we actually need is a sensible discussion of what can be done to convert the present city, designed when size, water and transport seemed limitless, into a sustainable city of a finite size.

That discussion requires more than thought bubbles, lines on maps, pretty advertising, and political spin, but a determined and full analysis of the likely future.

Adrian Gibbs, Yarralumla


Give goons the shove

What a sickening front-page photo (''Cop capsicum-sprayed my dog'', June 21, p1)! To see such inhumane treatment meted out to a dog, and a tethered one at that, by someone purported to be an officer of the law!

Was this person on duty? If so, it looks as though anything goes with regard to dress code for the boys in blue and their version of upholding the law.

Even worse was the video of the incident where this individual was seen to actively capsicum spray and then goad the poor creature - watched by his equally irresponsiblemates, all appearing to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Is this the kind of person we want in our law enforcement agency?

Animals have rights too - let's respect them and give these goons the shove. Time to recruit people with some kind of integrity.

(Mrs) Pat Watson, Red Hill


TO THE POINT

 

BANK FRAUD EXPOSED

So, when will ''Commbank'' change its name to ''Conbank'' (''CBA ignored evidence of $100m fraud'', canberratimes.com.au, June 22)?

John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW


PM'S SIMPLE SOLUTION

An easy solution for the Abbott/Credlin government now the High Court has knocked out two of their ideas (school chaplaincy and temporary protection visas) - one which would fit in with their whole philosophy - if you can't use the law as you see fit then simply … change the law. I await for the government to change the law and then blame Labor, all the while claiming a mandate for its actions.

E.R. Haddock, Weston


DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY

Dance on Midwinter Ball-goers (Letters, June 23)! Midwinter is when the winter solstice occurs and that is when it is the shortest day and longest night of the year and that in the southern hemisphere is between June 20-21. Meanwhile I'm looking forward to the summer solstice!

Marguerite Castello, Griffith

PALMER SETS UP OFFICE

It's great that Clive Palmer is setting up independent offices (''Palmer office lease signals his intentions'', June 20, p2). It is to be hoped this means the staff won't be public servants. Any complaints to politicians about the public service are currently handled by the PS staff in the pollies' office, which is like complaining to your mother-in-law about your wife.

Michael F. Buggy, Torrens


ASBESTOS FALLOUT

I note that no one mentions seeking compensation from the asbestos manufacturers (''New aid hope in asbestos scandal'', June 18, p1). Did Mr Fluffy know asbestos was harmful? Perhaps not.

Did CSR and Hardie know asbestos was harmful? Definitely they did.

Canberra home owners desperate for help should consider this.

Elizabeth Thurbon, Narrabundah


ROLLING IN THE ISLES

Perhaps Adele Ferguson (''Storm clouds gather over retailers'', BusinessDay, June 20, p14) should employ a proof reader so the ''discount sales in the isles'' are not taking part in the British Isles but in the shopping ''aisles'' of JB Hi-Fi or other retailers.

Dave Roberts, Dickson


PRAISE FOR ABBOTT

I was amazed to see an article in The Canberra Times favourable to the Prime Minister (''Abbott walks tall counselling military caution, Times2, June 20, p5). Perhaps you are heeding the message from readers who find the fevered cartoons, sneering letters and odd ideas of newsworthiness a sign of bias.

P. Edwards, Holder

 

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