Opposition Leader Bill Shorten thinks he has moral right to spend other people's money ("Labor doubles down on preschool plan with vow to wave university fees", canberratimes.com, October 5).
Will Shorten's next step be to call for free rent, free food, a minimum wage of $50 an hour and a 30-hour week? Shorten's entire election campaign rests on the statist doctrine of something for nothing.
The extent that people believe that the federal government is a source of wealth and free goods never ceases to amaze me.
Where is money coming from to enable the government to fund health, education, childcare, aged care and other government programs? Who is going to pay for these programs?
When have government guarantees for people's income and free goods led to greater productivity, saving, individual initiative and risk taking?
Shorten's tax and spending plans are excellent, if his aims are to expand the tax consuming class and the public sector and increase debt.
If Labor wins the next election Australians should brace themselves for a bureaucratic trade union-dominated welfare/regulatory state. And lower living standards.
Victor Diskordia, McKellar
State should butt out
Comment on the relentless hyper-regulation of smokers provoked a predictably dogmatic prohibitionist response, failing to address the issues while engaging in a shrill attack on "addicts".
The threshold issue remains: by what moral authority does the state presume to control the informed voluntary lifestyle decisions of citizens?
It is an issue of ethics, and the limits of state coercion, not of "public health", also relevant to other tax and ban targets of wowsers such as alcohol, "junk" food, sugar, gambling, and similar panics.
The outlandish claims that "there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke" and "the dose and duration of exposure is irrelevant" ignores toxicology, and relative risk. If true, tobacco smoke would be the most toxic substance known to humanity, worse than cyanide gas, or eating a plutonium sandwich.
Tobacco prohibitionists bizarrely describe obscenely punitive taxes, presently over 800 per cent or $1007 a kilogram, with more increases planned, as "helping" smokers.
That is but one example of the prevalent "we know best how you should live" mentality, forcing smokers to pay for their own persecution.
Choose not to smoke, if that is your preference. Do not arrogantly presume without consent to dictate the lifestyles of others.
Prohibitionists and the state lack standing or moral authority to interfere in individual lifestyle choices, and distort free markets, while creating deadweight regulatory costs.
They should butt out.
M. Jarratt, Weston
Holistic view of growth
The NSW Premier is reportedly in conflict with business, her federal colleagues, and the Labor opposition over her call for fewer NSW immigrants.
She wants breathing space to allow NSW to catch up with infrastructure shortfalls.
The business and universities' arguments are economic, generated by the fear of reduced bottom lines and reduced student numbers, while Luke Foley's are politically opportunistic, attacking the Premier for inconsistency. His only reference to immigration numbers is to support continued Sydney growth to 6million but at a slower rate.
The PM, clearly unwilling to contemplate reductions in the national immigration rate, deflected the real issues by suggesting some immigrants be sent bush, away from Sydney.
As usual, growth supporters selectively quote the economic benefits, ignoring the costs, which are economic (unaffordable infrastructure, constant new roads construction and upgrades to existing), social, and include traffic and public transport congestion, urban sprawl and long distance daily travel, housing costs, hospitals overcrowding, environment (waste disposal, land clearing, residential developments on agricultural land), resource depletion (water), industrial air pollution, and human contentment.
Never do its supporters tell us how we will one day have to live without growth, what Australia's stable long-term sustainable population should be, and how to plan for it.
Where in our political ranks are the philosophers and scientists?
Vince Patulny, Kambah
Paul Malone's warranted criticism of Border Force ("Immigration secrecy needs to stop", October 9, p19) falls short.
The greater issue is that we now have a series of measures in purported pursuit of national security and border control that are essentially punitive (detention; passport and movement restriction; deportation) that are intrinsically judicial in character yet are applied administratively.
Secrecy makes this worse. Nobody in Australia — no matter any ministerial or official's view of their character, status or merits — should be subject to the dawn knock or immediate incarceration of the high-handed Border Force officials.
Individual liberty — whether of residence, movement or expression — should only be restricted administratively for the minimum time needed to access immediate, informed, independent judicial oversight — and then only in cases of demonstrated urgency and immediate serious risk.
It is not that would-be terrorists, habitual criminals or economic refugees necessarily deserve such protection. It is that law-abiding and reformed citizens and residents need a bulwark against politicised bureaucratic bungling, arrogance, malice or prejudice that might characterise them otherwise.
Mike Hutchinson, Reid
Individual tax trivial
One has to applaud the Prime Minister and government who state from time to time that as our CO2 emission are only 1.3per cent of the global emissions anything we do will make no difference.
However, I do wish that they would be consistent.
I have tried countless times to convince the tax department that as my measly contribution to the gross national tax take is way less than 1.3 per cent it would make no difference to the running of the country if I didn't pay it.
But they just won't listen.
They say such things as: "If you don't contribute your share, who will pay to save the Barrier Reef?" or "Who will cover our subsidies to the coal industry?" even though government spokespersons have made it clear that 1.3per cent is insignificant.
I call on the PM to ensure that the tax laws are changed so that anyone taxed less that 1.3per cent of the current tax revenue be exempt.
Digby Habel, Cook
Support for uni strike
The forthcoming strike at the University of Canberra highlights a reality not often mentioned in discussions of higher education. ("Canberra Uni staff to strike for first time in decade', October 11, p3) Our universities are built on the unpaid labour of their workers.
A survey by the National Tertiary Education Union for example showed lecturers worked on average about 50 hours a week. This is 12 hours a week above the average 38-hour week. For higher-ranked academics, the numbers were even higher.
The assistant professor system at UC is designed to force academic staff to work long, long hours on the off chance of becoming permanent employees, and normalising in those who survive this tortuous process the new reality of 60-hour working weeks.
These extra hours are unpaid and inhumane. The short-term solution to me seems obvious. The NTEU could campaign for overtime to be paid to all staff who work more than 38 hours a week. The longer-term solution is to properly fund universities so staff do not have to work long unpaid hours.
My best wishes to the striking workers at the University of Canberra. I support you in your campaign to reclaim your humanity.
John Passant, Kambah
No need for pill testing
So Shane Rattenbury thinks hosting a festival such as Defqon.1 would provide an economic boost for Canberra, with the added "bonus" of pilltesting thrown in.
Perhaps a better option would be to host festivals such as the Voices in the Forest concerts previously held at the arboretum.
These provided a great low-cost opportunity for all the family to experience high-quality singers performing in a beautiful outdoor setting. And as an added bonus, there will be no need to conduct pill testing.
Rosemary Crossland, Ngunnawal
Capitalists call the shots
I must admire the federal Coalition's unswerving loyalty to its pay-masters in dismissing the stark report from the IPCC on the measures the world needs to take to prevent global climate catastrophe.
The Environment Minister says it's "drawing a long bow", dismissing the large body of scientific evidence backing up the urgent warnings without offering any contrary evidence.
I seem to recall the Coalition's reluctance to hold a royal commission into the banking and finance sector. We were told, in the face of more and more evidence of shonky and in some cases illegal dealings by the banks and superannuation companies, that there was no strong evidence that any investigation was needed.
After the banks themselves called for one, suddenly the Coalition turned around and started — amazingly — patting itself on the back for "helping the people".
Then Scott Morrison, still apparently Prime Minister, leapt on the Four Corners investigation into the aged care sector to announce a full-on royal commission to investigate.
Strange that it is not dismissing that evidence, based on a lot more hearsay and stories, in the quest to be seen to be doing something.
Why this hypocrisy? Why does one industry get singled out for scrutiny, another only investigated after years of worsening news, and other industries ignored completely?
The neo-capitalists of John Howard's generation told us in the 1980s and 1990s how inefficient government-run nursing homes and power stations were and how much they cost to run.
It would seem that privatisation didn't make this any better. All it did was allow companies to hide the balance sheets and rosters.
Paul Wayper, Cook
Climate an urgent issue
The political response to the IPCC 1.5 Degree Report from both "sides" of the house displays a mix of either gross misunderstanding of what it means or serious, cynical political gaming.
At just over one degree of mean global warming we are already seeing climate disruption, visible in climbing heat records, more serious fires and a severe drought.
This is not the future (our children and grandchildren) — this is now (us and our children).
Electricity prices are a smoke screen. This is really about will we have enough food and water?
Will we be able to go outside in the day time? If we want any sort of economic prosperity we have to protect our agriculture, our infrastructure and the habitability of our country.
Anyone who does not grasp the urgency and importance of this should not be in Parliament. I guess that's our (the people's) call, when we vote sometime between now and June.
Peter Tait, O'Connor
Game soon over for coal
While I agree with most of what Douglas McKenzie writes, he is not correct in his comparison of anthracite with brown coal.
The relevant ratio when comparing the emissions of different types of coal is emissions per megawatt hour generated, not per tonne of coal burnt. On this basis, good-quality black coal is much less dirty than brown coal. But, while the coal contained in the Galilee Basin is not the dirtiest in the world, neither is it the best.
In particular if it were to displace less dirty but more expensive coal from the Hunter it would result in a net increase in emissions as well as damaging the Hunter region economy.
Eventually the major countries of the world will recognise that forceful action must be taken to limit global warming. They will then not only curb their own emissions but use their economic clout to ensure other countries do the same. The EU is already doing this in a small way. When China and/or the US join the party, it will be game over for thermal coal.
Paul Pentony, Hackett
TO THE POINT
SLOGAN MUST GROW
The Liberal Party slogan "jobs and growth" is well past its use-by date. Most Australians are totally sick of hearing how the government is delivering on this goal while ignoring everything else that matters.
At a minimum this slogan could be changed to "jobs, growth and the environment", or "jobs, growth, community and culture". This reflects that society is more than just capital and people more than cogs in the wheel of capitalism.
Robyn Vincent, McKellar
To all the right-wing whingers who continually denigrate the ABC. I have a simple answer , just a simple change of channel to Sky News.
Pat Tracey, Canberra
BET THE HOUSE
The Opera House seems to embody the alpha and omega of conservative thinking. First their short-term stinginess ensured our Opera House can't stage grand opera. Now they have discovered that as a rentable billboard, it could actually come in handy.
They are crass materialists. All they care about is money. Their anthem ought to be Cyndi Lauper's Money changes everything.
S. Davey, Torrens
Every time I see one of those cute little red trams drifting along Flemington Road I have a vision of Chief Minister Barr and ministers Rattenbury and Fitzharris fighting in their Civic office over whose turn it is to be the controller.
G. Murray, Ngunnawal
I like Peter Baskett's (Letters, October 9) suggestion naming republican commissions "babushkas". It suggests getting eventually to the heart of the matter, or peeling off the layers of an onion – not one eaten by Tony Abbott hopefully – to get to the truth.
Matt Ford, Crookwell, NSW
POOR PARTY MUSIC
The race to the bottom of society continues with the Greens' (or is it ACT Labor) Mr Rattenbury's wanting to invite Defqon.1 to hold events in Canberra.
It's what we expect of this poor excuse for a political party, which displays no vision for a productive and prosperous future for Canberra or Australia.
J. Grant, Gowrie
RAIN ON PM'S PARADE
The Prime Minister is said to believe praying for rain will lift the five-year drought. I'd like him to explain why, if praying to (presumably his) God can stop the drought, why the god allowed the drought to occur in the first place?
Peter Moran, Watson
With friends like Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull, ScoMo surely doesn't need any enemies.
N. Ellis, Belconnen
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