Very disappointing to see the four senior Labor federal MPs strolling along with disposable coffee cups in hand (Sunday Canberra Times, December 16, page 8). These people should be setting an example in promoting reusable cups. The planet is already being swamped with rubbish. Don't add to it!
Jan Johnston, Curtin
There is a factor missing from the mould story (Sunday Canberra Times, December 9, page 6); without casting any aspersions on the Harrison family or journalist Andrew Brown. The missing factor is that of moisture.
Mould grows in moisture, sometimes with either warm air or the absence of fresh air. This examination of mould issues needs to identify why a house has mould. It is surely extraordinary that so many houses have mould issues: is this the perennial leaking shower? A teenager having long, very hot showers, and not opening windows afterwards? Once a source of moisture is controlled, mould should be easy to manage: it should not occur; when it does it must be human factors at work.
Warwick Davis, Isaacs
I wonder what planet Peter Bradbury of Holt comes from (Letters, December 16) in claiming that dividend imputation is a tax loophole that has to be plugged.
Julie Hadfield (Letters, December 9) was perfectly correct in what she said. In the first instance, dividend imputation was introduced by the Labor Party (Mr Keating — remember him?) in recognition that, before, dividends were being double taxed, once as company tax and then as income tax. What true believers like Mr Bradbury have to understand is that dividends belong to the shareholder, not to the government.
Under law, these dividends have to be grossed up by 30 per cent, declared as income and taxed according to tax scales. If income is over the threshold, the dividend recipient pays tax on the dividend. If under the taxable threshold, the recipient can claim as a credit the 30 per cent that the company paid to the government earlier.
For a Labor Party to not return the 30 per cent to shareholders below the taxable income, is simple confiscation of money legitimately belonging to the shareholder.
Mr Bradbury and others who think like him might ask themselves why the unions that hold shares manage to keep all dividends while the low-income earners would have 30 per cent of their dividend stolen by a grubby government. Mr Bradbury should do some homework before shooting off his mouth on matters he obviously knows nothing about.
M. Silex, Erindale
Ian Warden's article on the link between narcissism and democracy (an inverse relationship; the more narcissist, the less democratic) was not only the usual fun read, but was also fascinating ("Narcissists, take a good look in the mirror", December 15). I do like democracy, and apparently this indicates I have high self esteem, which for a somewhat shy and retiring person is reassuring.
Anyway, the article set me thinking about democracy and its relationship with narcissist would-be dictators. In a democracy leaders do make big decisions.
Our prime minister can decide, for instance, that "Australia" will henceforth move its embassy to Jerusalem. In the United States the president can decide to slap a high tariff on imported Chinese goods. He can decide to scrap a treaty banning the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear weapons (a decision, by the way, that casts doubt on whether treaties in general are worth anything more than the paper they are written on).
In South Africa, President F W de Clerk can decide to scrap the six atom bombs in the nation's stockpile and join the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear member.
I suppose that if on the contrary he had decided to increase the country's capability by the manufacture of hydrogen bombs and ballistic missiles, he could have done that too.
It seems the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy the all-powerful leader is elected, whereas in a dictatorship he seizes power in a military putsch.
Harry Davis, Campbell
I am disappointed but not surprised that Labor has agreed to retain the policy of offshore detention. They are too cowardly to take the lead and put an end to the unjustifiable and inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and refugees on Manus and Nauru, many of whom have been incarcerated for more than five years, with no end in sight and in conditions that have been widely described as tantamount to torture.
Anyone who has read Behrouz Bouchani's masterpiece, No Friend but the Mountains, will know how appalling their situation is and will feel nothing but disgust that this government can fail to welcome a man of his calibre and the many others who have shown such resilience in unforgivably cruel circumstances.
I would prefer to have many of them in our government, rather than the politicians in both major parties who are inflicting such suffering on innocent people for political gain.
Clare Conway, Ainslie
So, the Australian government, a self-proclaimed champion of a rules-based international order, has called-on China to stop seeking a competitive advantage by stealing trade secrets and confidential business information from other nations ("'Shocking, outrageous': US charges Chinese hackers for industrial-scale theft", The Canberra Times, December 21).
The same hypocritical government that used our intelligence services to steal the resources of East Timor to the benefit of an Australian company and that today is abusing its power in a cowardly and wicked attempt to destroy the lives of patriots Bernard Collaery and Witness "K", who dared to expose its criminal behaviour.
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
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