Before and after of a war that left nation reeling

Before and after of a war that left nation reeling

Albert White (Letters, January 8) asks a question not raised often enough in our national debates: ‘What happened (to) Australia, once the social laboratory of the world, the ‘working man’s paradise’.

The answer can be summed up in a few words — World War One. The Great European Civil War of the Empires, which drew in their colonies around the world including an eager Australia, took the lives of some 62,000 Australians, which in today’s population would be five times larger.

The number of crippled and maimed, 155,000, would be 867,000 in today’s population.

The effects of World War I changed Australia forever.

The effects of World War I changed Australia forever.Credit:Australian War Memorial, G00579

Then there were the countless numbers wounded not in body but in mind and spirit. These were invisible to authorities and their families were left to to cope with the awful consequences, the depressions, the rages, the alcohol addictions, the suicides.


The war was a sort of Darwinian selection in reverse, reaping its terrible harvest from the best and the bravest, the brightest and the most patriotic.

My Uncle Charlie was killed at the Battle of Langemarck (Passchendaele). My father survived (obviously) although his regiment, the Inniskillings, suffered losses at Gallipoli, landing at Cape Helles on April 25, 2015.

Before the catastrophe, Australia was a young confident nation, a leader in progressive social legislation with a minimum wage, industrial arbitration, accepted unions, votes for women, and one of the highest standards of living in the world.

It came out of the war a timid and reactionary nation, afraid of the world around it, clinging to the skirts of Empire, depending on Mother England, her Royal Navy and its impregnable fortress of Singapore to guarantee Australia’s security.

A. Moore, Melba

Listless cricketers

Weighed, weighed, numbered, but no divisions so far. Plenty of commentary about elite cricketers, who under-perform and seem disinterested in doing anything other than picking up pay-cheques, but no solutions to hand.

Batsmen who can’t concentrate past the next commercial break, who like to take cross-bat slices at annoying red balls, or are startled by the result when they do the same blunder over again, need to be put on a little list.

But what about the selectors? Are they on anyone’s little list too?

Roy Darling, Florey

One super fund for all

The government cannot afford to fund, on its own, a comfortable retirement plan for every Australian.
The current plan (called the old age pension) provides a bare minimum living standard. It’s fine if you own your own home, but hopelessly inadequate if you need to pay rent.

There seems to be as many super plans/funds as stars in the sky, with many workers ending up paying into several different plans over their working life.

Attempts to correct this have been made, with portability of pension payments, and choice of plan not limited to that provided by one’s employer.

To me, the obvious solution is for everyone to pay into a single superannuation fund managed by a board appointed by the government.

The benefits would seem to be obvious, not the least being a considerably reduced fee structure by having only one fund manager.

Superannuation could be paid along with PAYG tax for instance or with normal taxation payments directly into the super scheme and recorded against the individual by way of the Tax File Number.

In managing the scheme, the government would appoint suitable experienced fund managers who would invest in infrastructure or other projects of benefit to Australia as a whole. The scheme would not be dissimilar to the old Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme.

The current old age pension could be absorbed into the scheme to provide for those unable to work whether through hardship or disability.

Wal Pywell, Wanniassa

Not in wealthy bracket

The most recent ATO report states median assets per self managed super fund are $693,265 with about 50 per cent of SMSFs being in the $200,000 to $1,000,000 asset range.

The number of members in pension phase who will be impacted by Labor’s imputation credit policy is probably about 40 per cent, with only 15 per cent of that number having assets over $2million.

Most of the SMSFs are not being run by the uber wealthy that Labor is fixated on.

About 60,000 SMSF beneficiaries currently fall into that ‘‘wealthy’’ category.

Cash is king in most of the SMSFs with about 35 per cent of all investments in cash with listed shares holdings of about 27 per cent, mostly in Australian shares. A rough estimate suggests that each SMSF has around $200,000 invested in listed shares with, for example, equal amounts of $10,000 in the top 20 ASX blue chip companies which mostly have 100 per cent dividend imputation and currently have high yielding dividends.

With cash only offering around 2 per cent in interest, the income from the stock market, particularly the imputation credits, account for a sizeable amount of income to live off.

I have had my fill of the infighting factions with the federal coalition government, but I am loath to forego over $5000 per year which goes towards the not insignificant taxation administration of my SMSF and my living expenses.

With a large majority of SMSFs with around $700,000 in assets, I don’t think they fall into the category of ‘‘Labor says they are wealthy and can afford it’’.

Labor should focus on SMSFs with over $2 million in assets and leave the struggling plebs alone who are mostly self-funded retirees who don’t have access to benefits like a health card.

S. Petersen, Dunlop

Fuelling my anger

I went up to Sydney for a few days at the end of last week and bought petrol at 7-Eleven Pheasants Hill on the motorway for $1.19, the first time it has ever been cheaper than Canberra on the motorway. In Canterbury when filling up for my return trip it was $1.09. Before leaving Canberra it was $1.44 at most petrol stations and on return, the same, even United was high. 7-Eleven in Fyshwick is where I always fill up whenever I go out that way, although the United down there was even cheaper. Come on Canberra petrol stations, stop fleecing the public.

Caroline Fitzwarryne, Yarralumla

Dearth of policies

Mokhles K Sidden (Letters, January 10) says Mr Shorten may lose the unlosable election with his ‘‘stupid’’ policies. Not one policy is named. Please name them so we can all share in your wisdom. If only the LNP had some policies to compare them against.

Jan Gulliver, Lyneham



Yet again, we hear on radio news reports that according to CSIRO and BoM that we are warming planet Earth because of climate change caused by CO2 because 2018 was the fifth, or whatever warmest year since 2005. Have these once-great institutions forgotten their own definitions of climate? The WMO also use this same definition. This collective definition states that climate is the average of 30 years of weather. So what are CSIRO and BoM doing comparing in a 13-year time frame?

A. Driessen, McKellar


Considering the recent enthusiasm for re-naming parts of Canberra, I propose that we take a leaf out of Queensland’s book and rename Canberra ‘‘Developers Paradise’’.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen


Artificial intelligence has a long way to go. Computers lack common sense and the general understanding of the world most humans, except politicians, somehow acquire.

Rod Matthews, Fairfield, Vic


As prices increase, so should the habitability of Canberra’s housing stock. There is no incentive for landlords to make improvements. Mould, poor insulation and outdated fixtures and fittings are commonplace. It’s unhealthy and unfair to those who, by necessity, live in such places. Canberra’s renters (many of whom are young and desperate) need to start demanding a fair go.

M. Wall, Braddon


Mark Slater (Letters, January 9), my observations of the Royal Sandringham Society of Nicely Rotund Labradors at my local dog park suggest the beloved Humphreys do not ‘‘bark’’. Rather they condescend to perform a woof of operatic quality.

And it is never accidental. If a Humphrey deems a woof necessary then it is prudent to check on the children and elderly neighbours.

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham, Vic


I cannot understand why so many female players are wearing black while playing tennis here in Oz. Don’t they know it is hot here and black absorbs heat far more than lighter colours do? Can anyone explain?
Why do so many of them wear the same black outfit? Surely their sponsors could provide a little individuality for each one.

D. Buttsworth, Ainslie


Stage Two of Canberra’s light rail needs to get to the other side of the lake. In keeping with its 19th century use of overhead wires, how about stretching a couple more across the lake and attaching the old Nelligen Punt?

Fred Barnes, Watson