OPINION

Banks lost trust when selling was priority

I joined the Bank of NSW in 1968 when bank managers were respected and trusted members of the community, especially in country areas.

Customers and staff knew each other.

When the name was changed to Westpac bankers became salespeople.

Banks were once told people like queues as long as they move.  Photo: Supplied

Banks were once told people like queues as long as they move. Photo: Supplied

Staff at branch level were expected to provide " leads" to staff behind the scene to follow up in an endeavour to sell a product.

The priority in your yearly review was your ability to provide leads and sell products.

Around the same time, the executives were advised that people like queues as long as they moved.

That started the reduction of staff at customer service level and retrenchments.

Customer service and branch staff bore the brunt of the 1992 yearly loss by the bank from customers and shareholders.

Branches were beginning to be managed by people without a grassroots level of banking procedures.

One example is of a bank manager being retrenched on a Friday, to be replaced the following Monday by someone with no banking experience, but was good at his previous job as shoe store manager.

Many employees with years of loyal service were retrenched.

People at the higher echelons of banking have led comfortable, cosy lives as a result of their great bonuses and wage rises in the pursuit of being the bank with the biggest yearly profit. The royal commission has shown just how greedy bankers at the high level became.

Lobbyists acting for banks worked tirelessly to keep the current government from establishing a royal commission, thus trying to avoid the airing of such heinous acts by the banks and related industries.

Kangaroos in harmony

Douglas Mackenzie (Letters, February 7) claims he is an advocate of the commercial culling of kangaroos, which is known worldwide as the largest slaughter of unique native land animals in the world. These animals are killed at night, dazzled by headlights, their joeys killed or left to perish.

Kangaroos cannot be herded like docile sheep and cattle.

Head-shots are difficult even for shooters, and body killed kangaroos are not accepted by the meat industry.

He is correct that "kangaroos also have far less effect on the physical environment than do cattle." This is because kangaroos have lived in harmony with their country for millennia.

Their long front claws dig the soil and their long tails cover the seeds as they pass over them.

Intensive farming of sheep and cattle has brought ecosystem and depletion of water, their hard hooves compact the soil so nothing can grow.

Only about 7 per cent of kangaroo meat is used for human consumption, and intensive commercial farming of any animals in our fragile, arid country is definitely not sustainable.

Kangaroos are our iconic national emblem, yet are seldom seen by tourists who come here for just that purpose.

Income inconsistencies

Tony Dillon's article, "Labor is exploiting misunderstandings about franking credits" (canberratimes.com.au, February 7), is interesting reading.

He cites two examples to illustrate what he considers to be different treatment of income between someone receiving a franking credit and someone earning a wage. What the article really highlights is that income is treated differently depending on how the income is obtained.

Wage and salary earners are treated differently to investors. The inconsistencies in the treatment of income and all the associated rent seeking are the real problems.

A massive financial advice industry exists to legally shelter income or obtain refunds from the tax authorities.

The debate should be about simplifying the tax system and avoiding the inconsistencies altogether by having all income, irrespective of how it was generated (salary, investment, gambling) taxed at the same rate.

Abolish all deductions (franking credits, negative gearing, etc) and then adjust the tax scales accordingly.

We would have a much simplified and less discriminatory tax system.

It might well be that individuals with annual incomes less than $80,000 (including those self-funded retirees) might not have to pay any tax at all.

Tax-free benefits

The retirees complaining about the ALP's franking credits change should look at what wealthy retirees are getting away with.

Tax-free pensions were rorted by Peter Costello for wealthy Liberal voters.

A couple can have $3.2million in their SMSF and draw down $160,000 tax free. In addition, they can have investments outside of super earning another $18,200 each that is also tax free, which gives them $196,200 tax free.

In addition, depending on their age and other income, they would be eligible for SAPTO of $3204 giving them a gross income $199,504 tax free.

More importantly, because this income is non-taxable they pay no Medicare levy or Medicare surcharge levy.

No wonder these wealthy retirees can cruise the world and travel business class. How is this sustainable?

How is it fair on other taxpayers who are paying for these retirees' health costs and lifestyle when many are trying to pay off mortgages, bring up kids, pay school fees etc on far less income.

Alan Podger has highlighted a lot of issues that should be addressed in superannuation.

Whilst the ALP are trying to make super fairer for all, what they have proposed is a quick fix and something better needs to be looked at.

I suspect the ALP will lose the "unlosable election" as John Hewson did.

Shades of Thatcher

Are my ears deceiving me? Labor's leader and potentially the country's next PM channelling Margaret Thatcher?

Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten should read the article by Nicholas Stuart ("Tax the rich, not the financially helpless", February 6, p17).

Bowen's crack that people who are unhappy about the proposed changes to imputation credits should feel "perfectly entitled to vote against us" was very unwise. There are non-pensioner retirees who will suffer cuts to their income and they are afraid and angry.

By all means, maintain this policy for the genuinely wealthy but cut some slack for those caught just outside the pension cut off.

Drone sympathy

Peace has been restored to Bonython now the Project Wing drone delivery trial has ended. The quiet is sublime.

My thoughts are now with the residents of Gungahlin.

Rates notice defies logic

It is difficult to decide if the design of this year's rates notice was devious or just plain dumb.

In previous years the rates notice always offered a discount for paying in full at the beginning of the year.

This offered an advantage to both the ratepayer and the government by virtue of the different interest/discount rates available to the private citizen and the government. I always took this option which provided a win-win outcome.

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

Send your opinions to letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

The most important difference with the latest notice is not the design of the notice but the fact that no discount is offered for paying in full up front. As there is no longer any benefit from paying a lump sum I took the best option for me which was to pay by monthly instalments. Better for me, less beneficial for the government.

Whether the government was being nasty enough to try to screw the ratepayer and hope they wouldn't notice, or stupid enough to not realise they were throwing away the advantage with the previous system requires the wisdom of Solomon to decide.

The pensions problem

Mr Podger's article ("Super diagnosis over-egged", The Public Sector Informant, February 5, p6) is part of an argument with the Grattan Institute about where to next with retirement incomes policy.

In it, he focuses on outcomes and says "The Commonwealth already provides indexed annuities in the form of age pensions – why not allow it to sell them as well?"

Presumably, he refers to the current age pension indexation arrangements, which are linked to both wages and CPI.

On the opposite page, Dr Daley, of the Grattan Institute, argues that scum-bag retirees don't spend all their income anyway, in case they run out of money, so they can afford to receive less, and comments "Retirement incomes should be compared with pre-retirement incomes, adjusted for price inflation, not wage inflation".

The problem is that there is currently no published measure of changes in the retail prices of the things people buy – the CPI uses prices adjusted (downwards) for (unreported) "quality improvements". This is why recipients of Centrelink benefits, which have been indexed by only CPI since the mid-1990s, are starving and are often living on the streets.

It is only in recent years, when workers' wage increases have barely equalled CPI, that the full impact of CPI indexation has been felt by the whole Australian community and general protests have started.

Then, in a post-script article, Mr Podger has an each-way bet: "I tend to a middle position, supporting wage indexation of age pensions but CPI indexation of super pensions." Huh? Why?

Who, if anyone, should we believe?

NSW govt must go

The NSW elections are due in six weeks. On environmental grounds alone we urgently need to vote out the NSW Coalition government, including the Nationals and their leader John Barilaro who currently represents the local seat of Monaro based on Queanbeyan and Cooma.

The NSW Gladys Berejiklian/ John Barilaro coalition government has trashed the land-clearing laws in NSW on private land so virtually any clearing and development is permitted regardless of rare and endangered species and environments.

They moved recently to permit significant and unsustainable increases in logging in all NSW state forests. The Commonwealth Coalition government has endorsed these changes.

The state Nationals, in particular, have failed to meet their public interests responsibilities in the administration of water including pump licensing, allocations to irrigators and dam management in the Murray-Darling Basin in NSW causing millions of fish deaths and failed town water schemes.

They are allowing brumby numbers to expand in the Kosciuszko National Park.

Taken together these four reasons will reduce tourism, reduce drinking water supplies and increase carbon emissions. I suggest you look to other candidates and check their policies carefully when you choose whom to support.

Solving water problem

Ron McWhae correctly lists major South Australian mistakes on water redistribution (Letters, January 31).

His statements deserve further details.

The drainage diversion schemes he listed are those of the Limestone Coast of South Australia. These diverted water draining underground into the Coorong from the south-east Limestone Coast, out to sea via surface drains.

This created Adelaide's food and wine basket, but damaged the Coorong and the seagrass beds offshore. (Google "tufa tubes".) Lake Alexandrina was neither "always" salt nor fresh, but an estuarine salt and freshwater oscillator, integrating tides, winds, river flow, rainfall and evaporation. When the Lake Alexandrina barriers were closed, masses of jewfish died attempting to return to breed.

McWhae did not offer new solutions, yet these have simple principles:

a) combine both active and passive aquifer recharge according to hydrological opportunity.

b) keep separate fresh and salt water long enough to achieve this.

c) ensure an annual flush by pulse-flow regimes.

The aquifers around Lake Alexandrina are full of salt — running fresh water through select aquifers over time would create droughtproof water for later use.

Diverting the 1200 gigalitre summer freshwater evaporative loss from Lake Alexandrina to aquifers has engineering precedents dating back thousands of years.

A leaky eastern canal, that drains through Lake Albert, thence to the Coorong, has potential for success, and a similar western canal to recharge the western aquifers, should fix the western foreshore freshwater problems.

I suggest people Google "Angas Bremer aquifer recharge".

TO THE POINT

SHAMEFUL STATISTIC

Re: "Longest wait in the country for residential aged care" (February 6, p1).

What a shameful statistic. Our elderly should not have to worry about whether or not they will be able to access care. Andrew Barr should look into supplying land for aged care and reduce the development of what appears to be an oversupply of high-rise developments.

Val Walker, Yarralumla

REFUELLING AID GONE TOO

Further to Brian Bell's contribution on petrol gouging (Letters, February 7). In 1968 there was an attendant to refuel your vehicle.

Anthony Bruce, Gordon

COALITION AT FAULT

The Coalition says it is best at managing the economy. But to whose benefit? Letting banks rip customers off benefited the government from the additional tax received. I don't see it offering to give that back. Who is benefiting from this so-called strong economy?

Ed Gaykema, Reid

PERPETUATING PROBLEM

Special mention of Indigenous people in the constitution and an extra line of representation for them in Federal Parliament would discriminate against other citizens, including recent arrivals.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Linda Vij, Mascot, NSW

CREDIBILITY AT RISK

Is the Climate Council determined to destroy its last vestige of credibility? It's one thing to declare that Australia faces more disruption from extremes of climate. Let's call that science. It's quite another to imply that further depleting the nation's coffers on "stronger action" would have any discernible effect.

M. Warrington, Garran

NONSENSE RULING

We now have a Canberra National "Multicultural" Festival, where only "locally" produced alcohol is allowed to be sold. Hasn't this incompetent, arrogant government got better, more productive, things to do than to come up with such nonsense?

Mario Stivala, Spence

HOURS ISSUE

Re articles on the gender pay gap. Leaving aside the issue of actual years in the workforce and qualifications "full-time work ain't full-time work". Full-time work is classed anything over 30 hours per week. The average full-time work for females approximates 36 hours. For males it is 42.

Do the maths.

John Coochey, Chisholm

SUPER PROBLEM

How profitable would even the best superannuation schemes be if their members were not exempt from income tax? The reduction of the number of operators, as advised by Commissioner Hayne, is a good first step towards rationalising the industry.

G. Wilson, Macgregor

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