License article

Keating's super rebuke to Turnbull's intellectual flatulence

 I normally despair when former politicians, especially prime ministers, deign to give us their two bob's worth from their pinnacles of delusional infallibility. ("Reckless to raid super for housing", March 20). But Paul Keating is regularly the exception. As the Turnbull government continues with its lazy, ideological and tacky policies-on-the-run, it is heartening to have somebody with sound economic credibility as well as compassion challenging their manufactured logic.

With a long-held reputation for intellectual flatulence, the latest idiotic proposal from Turnbull Inc. that biting into their superannuation will help solve the home ownership disaster for young people is up there with the worst. Ten minutes of serious consideration would expose the gaping holes in the idea, particularly the creation of a catastrophe for welfare policy in the future. Then again, as Keating suggests, that would be be in sync with their long-term goal of destroying universal retirement coverage along with a universal medical service; and totally consistent with their basic ethos that Australia isn't a community, it's a business. Sadly that is where we have been heading for quite a while and why those with fading memories of a fair nation are so disillusioned.

Bert Candy Glenvale (Qld)

The proposals to raid superannuation for deposits on home loans is exactly as Keating says; reckless. But it is also indicative of the fact that this government would prefer to abandon super than negative gearing and the capital gains tax breaks. Once again it is prepared to throw the ordinary Australian under the bus to protect the wealthy and themselves (after all they all have property portfolios). It is shameful. One of the great economic and social reforms might be undermined through stubborn-minded self-interest. It is also very short-sighted. There is a better solution, but they refuse to acknowledge it, and have now painted themselves into a corner. Very sad!

James Manche Dulwich Hill

I am an unabashed fan of Paul Keating, the last prime minister to demonstrate vision for Australia and the backbone to deliver the vision. Never has PJK been more needed to speak out for the benefit of our country.


To paraphrase Keating, who once defined the most dangerous place in the world to stand as the place between a politician and a bucket of money, today's gutless wonders proposing to plunder superannuation are confirming the truth of that definition.

Superannuation is for retirement and should be inviolate. Giving away security in retirement to buy the votes of first-time home buyers is not only stupid, it is also a morally bankrupt exercise of ducking today's problems and leaving today's first home buyers unable to retire in comfort in their hard-bought McMansions.

David Scarlett Killara

Keating is wrong on superannuation. Owning a home is a far greater priority than funding overseas trips in old age. Home ownership is good for mental health, a sense of achievement, boosting incentive, raising children and generational equity. Allowing first home buyers to access a 10 per cent deposit from their personal superannuation to match 10 per cent personal savings provides an objective and a reasonable total deposit of 20 per cent. This level of deposit negates the need for expensive mortgage insurance.

Graeme Troy Wagstaff

Should people over 55 be withdrawing their super and investing it elsewhere to protect their futures from a government which has no idea what it is doing, and is contemplating destroying the business plan of superannuation schemes? So much for the Liberals being better economic managers. They may know how to make money for themselves, but they are blundering buffoons when it comes to promoting the prosperity of the people.

Jennifer Briggs Kilaben Bay

As a tax agent I concur completely with Keating and his comments re super for housing. There is a complete vacuum of logical thought at the highest level of government. How about allowing a partial tax deduction for the interest on your home loan, which is quite common in many parts of the world? Then an amount of interest that is tax free? There is no incentive for young couples to save as interest is taxed from the first dollar. There is also the aspect that the employer has contributed the bulk, if not all, of the amount in their super. This promotes the nanny state aspect.

Rod Ross, North Ryde

Paul Keating for prime minister!

Andrew Taubman Queens Park

Soulless Sydney resembles a developer's playground

The state government's proposal to massively increase high rise development along transport hubs is nothing new ("'We're almost at point of no return'", March 20). However, this government seems hell-bent on packing in the worker bees with no sustainable infrastructure to support the movement and daily lives of these large populations. I live near to a train station, and experience the unpleasant sardine-can crush in the carriages from North Strathfield to the city (after the train has passed through high-density residential hubs such as Meadowbank and Rhodes) and I can attest to this grand plan failing unless the public transport system is upgraded and expanded to carry more travellers more frequently such as the metros of Europe and Japan.

Unless this government can make those hard decisions, perhaps it's time to encourage other less populated states take new arrivals? Despite its stupid prices, Sydney is still experiencing growth of 100,000 new residents a year. In 25 years, I have seen Sydney go from a vibrant, interesting and exciting city to one that is more and more resembling a developer's playground, with endless boring apartments, clogged roads and schools, underfunded hospitals and green space seen as a luxury only for the well heeled of the eastern suburbs or north shore. More soulless, poorly built towers are not what Sydney needs.

Julia Langham North Strathfield

PM's Snowy pitch is just a pipe dream

My first thought on hearing the Prime Minister announce Snowy MkII is echoed in the letter from Graham Pike (Letters, March 20). Frequent visitors and cross-country skiers to the region will tell you that the snow season is becoming shorter and, yes, the lakes are lower. It would make more sense to take the quicker course, develop a federal battery storage plan more able to be quickly implemented and, in the end, more likely to produce reliable results.

Patricia Slidziunas Woonona

Before we race ahead with large-scale battery storage of electricity, let's make sure we include the battery-recycling cost and the environmental cost of leftover waste in our calculations.

Norm Neill, Darlinghurst,

I can't understand y'all down there in Oz Land. I hear you're objecting to wells on your farms. Don't y'all want to enjoy the wealth from those oil fields – after all, here in Texas we discovered the facts many years ago and it has made us the mightiest state in the USA. Forests of oil wells look much better than silly old forests of trees. If y'all stop arguing you could be Texas in Ozland.

Gloria Healey Condell Park

I'm a farmer and I totally agree with George Lemann, (Letters, March 20), that all food-producing land has to be off limits for any sort of mining. Yet, until we wake up to the fact that world overpopulation is the ultimate driver of our environmental problems, like climate change, soil degradation and food security, we will never solve anything. The Greens as a party worldwide should start speaking up before it is too late. Our grandchildren will have a hard enough time as it is.

Henry Schneebeli Moree

Beware the developers

I hope our Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her Planning and Housing Minister take the time to read the Herald's exposé of the government's failure to keep developers out of local councils through the law's lack of penalties or enforcement (" 'I'm no developer' says councillor whose firm lodged nearly 100 DAs", March 20). Are these the same developers who will be allowed to build higher blocks of units in the belief that one storey will be dedicated to affordable housing? Can anyone truly believe they can be trusted to act in the public good?

Jennifer McKay Ashbury

No longer child's play

Dr Sophie Lewis articulates the dilemma also confronting other families ("Baby joy tempered by climate fears", March 20).

Our children have told us they do not want to have children of their own due to their concerns about the world they will inherit.

We minimise consumption, but I fear I am just whistling in the wind when oil wells are burning and the scourge of plastic is ubiquitous.

Perhaps our children are making the best choice, but it seems such a high price to pay.

Congratulations, Sophie, may your joy overwhelm your concerns.

Amanda Berry Scone

Four days? Hardly

A four-day week ("We should talk about the four-day work week", March 20)? Great idea for everyone – except doctors, nurses, police, teachers – all those essential services. As a teacher I am at my school nine to 10 hours each day, plus travelling time, and I take work home in the evenings and weekends. No six-hour, 9 am-to-3 pm work day for me.

Marjorie Williamson, Blaxland

Aisle of right

How many more polls are needed before our elected representatives accept their responsibility for marriage equality and resolve it in Parliament ("Poll shows majority in 12 conservative seats back marriage equality", March 20)?

As a physician and medical scientist I know that the evidence is overwhelming that same-sex attraction is a simple biological variant. One doesn't choose it any more than one chooses one's blood group or to be tall or short.

It results in love that is just as pure, deep, selfless and abiding as that of any heterosexual couple. All lifelong commitments by Australian couples have a right to equal recognition, both by our institutions and in everyday language.

This is not a fringe issue; we will remain diminished as a nation and a people until this fundamental wrong is corrected.

Graeme Stewart Double Bay

No need for smoko

With James leaving his sinking ship due to Chinese non-arrivals, then our governments can stop allowing smoking in high-roller rooms ("Packer calls in $100m loan to Crown, plans share buyback", March 20).

Margaret Hogge Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Haymarket

No snails – why not?

In the not too distant past, after an extended period of rain like we've just had, the footpaths and walls of the house would be frequented by numerous snails and slugs.

At the very least, the paths would be criss-crossed with evidence of their overnight meanderings. This morning – nothing.

Come to think of it, I haven't seen them around for a number of years now.

Could it be that our little terrestrial gastropod friends are the modern equivalent of the canary in the coal mine and are trying to tell us that all is not well in the environmental state of play? I suspect that we ignore their seeming demise to our detriment.

Rod Hughes Epping

Trump's theme song: How Little We Know

In light of the gaffes coming from the Trump administration, I'd like to suggest a theme song for the President and his cabinet members, ("Donald Trump, the working-class zero spewing poisonous fake news", Frank Sinatra's hit in 1956 How Little We Know aptly describes the current administration and its ineptitude.

Herb Stark Mooresville

Many fathers of rock

Chuck Berry, (first recording in 1955) is apparently "The father of rock'n'roll". So what happened to the equally influential Fats Domino (first recording 1950), Little Richard (first recording 1951) or Ray Charles (first recording 1951)? It's ludicrous to suggest R&R has only one father, but for those who believe this nonsense I'd like to know who's its mother? Peggy Lee? Rock on.

Steve Moore Leumeah

Miracle horse

If a horse can have 16 successive victories, I think a Winx as good as a nod ("Can this horse walk on water?", March 20).

Geoffrey Williamson Woollahra

Mixed blessing

A great idea, Janice Creenaune (Letters, March 20), retaining retired teachers as consultants to teaching would be a great benefit to school education. But the letters page would be  decimated.

Don Smith Ashfield