Treasurer has lost touch with the people, and reality

Treasurer Joe Hockey pushing his budget harder won't stop it from sinking. He says that, under his budget, rich people will pay more than poor people. But poor people pay a higher proportion of their incomes than rich people.

Poor people spend all their meagre incomes on the essentials of life. Rich people do that, and have money to burn on life's frivolities. Hockey's budget makes the poor poorer and the rich richer.

All Hockey cares about are donations from rich people. Please give generously to the Liberal Party.

Graham Macafee, Latham

Joe Hockey is threatening that he will introduce emergency austerity measures if his budget does not get through Parliament. His comments about fuel excise and the poorest people either not having cars or not driving very far show just how out of touch he is with the real world and the Australian public.

Here's a reality check for Mr Hockey: the poorest people tend to live in the outer suburbs of big cities where rent and mortgages are cheaper and public transport is expensive and less frequent. As a result, they need to drive further to commute to work and take children to school and are more likely to drive older model cars that use more fuel, are less efficient and require more maintenance. This is just one more example of LNP using bully-boy scaremongering tactics to get their own way. Once again, I am embarrassed to be an Australian and glad to be living elsewhere for a while.


Juliane Samara-Wickrama, Geneva

Doesn't Joe Hockey realise poor people have to eat? If fuel costs increase, so do transport costs and therefore food and grocery prices.

Felicity Chivas, Scullin

My eccentric old uncle Harry was visiting our family farm in Queensland about 40 years ago. My older sister who had left to work in Brisbane a few years earlier just happened to be back home too. He asked her, ''Do you own a car?'' Her reply: ''No''. ''Well then,'' he said, ''you must have a lot of money.'' Uncle Harry was making a point that seems to be totally lost on Joe Hockey: it is the high cost of motoring that is keeping a lot of low income people even poorer.

Philip Knopke, Kaleen

New ballot option

With Australian politics in its lamentable state, my choice on a ballot paper would likely be ''none of the bastards''. That would be my deliberate and considered political choice, and it ought to be as valid as ticking any of the boxes. But NO, it would be recorded as ''informal'', implying that I was too dumb to fill out the ballot paper. Would it not be reasonable to have a box saying something like ''none of the offered candidates''? Surely we should have that right as voters, rather than being compelled to tick candidates or parties we don't think are worth voting for. It will probably never happen. Politicians would be scared that a majority of voters might choose that option.

Ian Rae, Giralang

Assembly futility

Katy Gallagher's public plea for more women to run for the ACT Legislative Assembly (''Gallagher to seek high-profile women for bigger Assembly'', August 15, p1) comes across as naive at best and misleading at worst, for several reasons.

The expansion of the Assembly favours the two major parties, so potential candidates must hack through the factional horse-trading that besets both of them and be accountable to the tiny party membership base rather than the community. So only women (and men) with an alignment to the Labor or Liberal parties need apply.

And even if they get to be an Assembly member, what useful things can they do for Canberra as a backbencher? Ministers are the only ones who can actually deliver. Your common or garden MLA can add little value to their constituents' dealings with the ACT government (Canberra people know how to deal with the government direct with no middle-man/woman) and Assembly committee work is destined to be generally ignored, if the current administration is any guide.

The current mini-Westminster system used for the government of what is essentially one not-too-large city precludes Canberra's best and brightest from serving in public office. One idea might be to limit all MLAs to one term in office. That would make it easier to identify those who want to serve the community from those who want to be professional politicians.

Tom Dale, Wanniassa

Katy Gallagher has a golden opportunity to fix for ever the lack of women in ACT politics. With the proposed increase in the size of the Assembly, she could introduce dual member constituencies - one male and one female to be elected in each. It would be difficult to see how the Assembly could ever again be male dominated, and it would provide a model for the rest of Australia.

John Walker, Queanbeyan, NSW

Oval issue flares

Is Jack Waterford (''Put land leases in spotlight'', Times2, August 13, p1) opposing the Raiders' proposed re-development of its land adjoining Northbourne Oval (a) because he doesn't think it's in the public interest; or (b) because the Raiders didn't pay for the land (a concessional lease) originally, and therefore shouldn't get the windfall profit that comes from now zoning the land for residential/commercial use?

If it's the former, I doubt that many people would agree with him; it's surely more in the public interest to cater for the huge demand for inner-suburban living, than to convert the land into a park for a few residents.

And if it's the latter, has Waterford forgotten the lease variation charge, the very purpose of which is (as Chief Minister Gallagher has said ) to make the lessee ''pay the market value of the new lease''.

Of course, government can legitimately waive payment of some or all of a lease variation charge as an incentive to facilitate achievement of its infill policy. I don't know whether that will happen in this case. But if it does, it can't be criticised without criticising the infill policy itself; and Waterford has said in his article that ''redevelopment is not … a bad idea'' .

R.S. Gilbert, Braddon

When even mild-mannered people like Jack Waterford use language like: ''they have a corrupted view of where the public interest lies'' to plead the case for a thorough and proper review of the land leases granted to clubs, we know that the issue has become a community-wide concern of major proportions.

So, now that the debate around the issue of concessional leases to community organisations such as ethnic and sport clubs has finally gathered momentum, it would seem appropriate for our Chief Minister to call a community-wide forum.

As I did in my letter of January 23 in support of Jack's call (''Squandering social capital'', Times2, January 22, p1), once again I preach my support for Jack's call and urge the government to act now and ''not to squander the ethnic social capital''.

Juan Rodriguez, president, Spanish Residents' Council of Canberra

I think Jack Waterford might have accidentally hit the nail on the head. Rather than building apartments on ''Rugby League Park'' (Braddon Oval), and a new stadium on the Civic Pool site, why not build the stadium in Braddon, and upgrade the Civic Pool?

By my calculations, the Braddon Oval site is five hectares, and the Civic Pool complex is 4.5 hectares. In addition, Braddon provides better pre and post-game facilities!

Rob Ewin, Campbell

Heavy on light rail

Liberal spokesman Alistair Coe claims that Simon Corbell has an ''emotional attachment'' to light rail (''Liberals vote against light rail spending'',, August 13).

It is probably true that ACT Labor wouldn't have touched light rail unless the Greens had made them. But the surprising thing, Alistair, is that not everything the Greens propose is necessarily a crazy socialist conspiracy striking at the heart of civilised society.

The rational analysis, that we are never hearing above the din, is that Canberra's very real ''emotional attachment'' is to cars and buses and never light rail.

In his Battlelines book, the Prime Minister fancifully claimed that Australian cities cannot ''justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads''. In faithful replication of this creed, the Commonwealth and ACT have combined to foist the GDE and the Majura Parkway on us.

The cost of these two eyesores goes more or less unquestioned, although it is readily commensurate to the cost of the first stage of light rail, or indeed the cost of the ASIO atrocity-on-the-lake. And the only certainty is that taken together they can be guaranteed to make no discernible impression on our commuting habits.

As the late Paul Mees pointed out in his final (2012) Transport Policy at the Crossroads paper, Canberra has flunked the public transport (rail) revival in the Australian cities, with a ''sustained decline in public transport, and a steady rise in car driving'' since 1996. He also reminded us that, contrary to received Gungahlin and Tuggeranong wisdom, Australian cities could ''achieve European-level mode shares by providing European-quality public transport''.

So, instead of selling the light-rail project with population-growth hucksterism and real estate developers' slogans, why aren't the ACT government and its Capital Metro bombarding us with this prosaic transport-planning and mode-share analysis?

Probably because it would mean a loss of face.

ACT would have to admit that its determinedly pro car and bus policies have been an expensive failure ever since self-government arrived in 1988, and that these same policies carry no realistic prospect of being a success in the future.

Stephen Saunders, O'Connor

Outage concerns

ABC digital radio station has been off the air for the past 24 hours. The ABC advised me that this was due to a transmitter on the Telstra tower not functioning. This is not the first time this station has been unobtainable on the digital service.

The concern is this is supposed to be our station to listen to for advice in a large emergency.

Janet Williamson, Mawson


There are many physical and emotional stresses in this world that may or may not be cancer inducing, but I did suffer from a bad headache upon reading Jennifer Hogan's (Letters, August 14) clumsy defence over Eric Abetz's silly misuse of debunked 1950's research about abortion and breast cancer.

Joyce Wu, Lyneham


Why use offensive adjectives such as ''manic, depressive, and mad'' (''Genius and madness touched us all'', August 13, p8) to describe an actor who gave so much of his talent to so many people for so long and will continue to do so when many of us won't leave a trace. Robin Williams' generous career should not be reduced to such stigma by the media.

Noelle Roux, Chifley


What a dumb decision to cancel the lease for ACT Cricket at Manuka Oval! Just when that boutique venue should be escalating the profile of cricket in this region, corporate power has stupidly shown its disrespect for those who administer the game locally. Any new construction should involve purpose-built offices for Cricket ACT.

Thomas Alured Faunce, Acton


Ross Gittins (''Big Business Calls the shots'', Times2, August 13, p4) whinges about being inconvenienced by strikes in the past and ''being bossed around by the unions''. Given that his article is about consumers getting a raw deal from big business, I would have thought the ''inconveniences'' he refers to are responses from workers getting a raw deal from big business. He just doesn't see it. Put simply Ross, if you don't fight, you lose.

Paul Kringas, Giralang

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