GST increase

GST increase

Once again we have someone promoting an increase in the GST, this time Tony Shepherd, president of the Business Council (''Big end of town calls for vision on reform'', April 5, p13). Once the government starts to tinker with the GST rate, which it said it would not do when it was introduced, the floodgates will open. Does Shepherd really believe that other taxes will be lowered and/or removed?

The gullible public fell for this line when the the GST was introduced with the connivance of the Democrats. And what do we have now?

According to Treasury's own website, Australians pay at least 125 different taxes each year and there could be as many as 160 different state taxes and 259 taxes nationally. And this does not include local government rates!

I did not come down in the last shower, but the broader Australian public will show just how wet it is behind the ears if it falls for this proposal by the BCA.

Ric Hingee, Duffy


Shroud of Turin

To my mind the origin of the image on the Shroud of Turin, which many years ago I viewed, remains unsettled. Graham McLennan (Letters, April 5) believes it is ''clearly a fake'' based on the non-human facial proportions and by analogy with facial paintings of 14th century artists. My recollection of this debate is that the facial distortion arises because the cloth lay around the face, and when viewed flat it naturally appears distorted. In 1988 three independent laboratories performed 14C dating analysis and each came up with an age of about 700 years. Since, many have attempted to discredit the accuracy of 14C radiodating. These writings are nonsense.

The 14C/12C isotope ratios, the key to the method, have been determined by both sophisticated liquid scintillation counting and, quite independently, by accelerator mass spectrometry. The results agree. Also, ancient organics, historically of known age, have been 14C dated with results in complete agreement.

The residual doubt on the real age of the shroud rests with the selective sampling. There is evidence that it was repaired with fibres much younger than the supposed 1st century cloth, and that the 14C dating results were flawed as a result. The age issue can and should be resolved by more widespread and systematic sampling, but I doubt the Shroud's custodians will allow this.

It is a great pity; nowadays only milligrams per sample are required.

Greg Jackson, Kambah

Graham McLennan (Letters April 5) sternly rebukes The Canberra Times for continuing to publish claims about the possible authenticity of the Turin Shroud which, he says, is clearly a fake. He may well be right, but the newspaper also has a perfect right to report on issues of public interest in which even experts are not agreed. My personal Christian faith is in no way dependent on a piece of cloth, but I recognise some fascinating issues raised by the shroud, issues that will not go away.

If it is a 14th-century artistic creation, why is it that the details of the face and figure imprinted on the shroud were only fully revealed by a photographic negative in the 19th century?

To anticipate photography 500 years before it was discovered requires more than artistic expertise. He or she was some artist!

Robert Willson, Deakin

Attack on Power

The abusive and intemperate rant by Einat Weiss (''Article shows thorough misunderstanding of issue'', April 2, p9) on behalf of the Israeli Embassy attacking Bishop Pat Power over his opinion article in last Tuesday's Canberra Times is disgraceful. Her piece is a stark contrast to the tone of the bishop, who closes his remarks pleading ''for patience and restraint on the part of the Palestinian people, for good will, a sense of justice and practical peace-making actions on the part of Israel.''

In response, Weiss accuses Power of various failings of intelligence and discernment, and raises a raft of accusations of bias. A number of myths about the failings of the Palestinians are rehearsed (without supporting evidence) and in her closing flourish Weiss apparently suggests the bishop's position ''is unoriginal, it's easy, and it's lazy''.

Power is known and respected in the Canberra community and across Australia as a staunch advocate of social justice and a defender of the oppressed.

It is appalling that a diplomat representing a foreign government should make such an unjustified and unbalanced attack on a religious leader in this country.

If a rabbi or Jewish community leader in Australia (or in Israel) were to be addressed in similar terms by a representative of the Australian government the outcry from the Jewish community would be deafening. Why does the Israeli embassy think it appropriate for a Christian leader to be subjected to such a nasty attack? The Israeli ambassador should apologise to Power.

Rev James Barr, president, Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Melbourne

Anzac dollar

There has been talk of implementing a common ''trans-Tasman'' currency. While I lack any form of economic qualifications, it did occur to me that this may be something of a panacea on at least a few fronts.

The New Zealand dollar is well below parity with the United States dollar, and a hybrid currency is likely to be pulled back under parity from the dilutionary effect.

The very strong Australian dollar is most obviously a curse to exporters; but also is no friend of our ailing retail sector, as online shoppers sniff out deals offshore. Would the ''Anzac dollar'' at about US90-95c remedy these unhelpful trends?

Another benefit would be some facilitation of trans-Tasman trade flowing from the removal of the shifting sands of currency conversion rates (and conversion fees, in some cases).

Australians seem to enjoy their greater prominence in global political and economic life vis-a-vis the Kiwis, but maybe we should sideline our hubris and have a close look at this proposal.

Ross Kelly, Monash

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