OPINION

Pension is not a welfare payment, and politicians should know this

In all my life I have never heard of old age pensioners referred to as "welfare recipients", and I find it extremely offensive, Mr Morrison.

When I was young and I questioned the constitutional legality of income tax, I was assured I was investing in my aged pension and the education and support of future generations.

Scott Morrison, then treasurer, smiles for the cameras in last year's budget lock-up. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Scott Morrison, then treasurer, smiles for the cameras in last year's budget lock-up. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

As an early baby boomer I worked and paid taxes most of my life, to support those opportunities that we never had, for those generations, some of whom never got to pay taxes, newcomers who had contributed nothing, and others who have little respect for experienced seniors and do not believe we should even receive a pension.

As for our dumbed down education system ... don't get me started.

So, if a senior on an old age pension is now called a welfare recipient, what do we call self-serving politicians who rort the system to push their own agendas, pay themselves far more than they are worth, and receive a hefty unjustified pension for the rest of their lives as soon as they move on to their next opportunity.

Wrong assumptions

In among the 2019 budget coverage, there was an article "Retiree lends backing to home-care boost" (March 3, p.5) which discussed the budget impact on a retired serviceman.

I believe the article contains fundamental errors which should be corrected.

It states: "the 70-year old lives off a pension from his defined benefit superannuation (the military's scheme) and as such doesn't pay tax".

This is wrong — the DFRDB/MSBS schemes are not tax-exempt.

The pensioner will likely be paying tax and can therefore still benefit from his dividend imputation credits.

If he's not paying tax, it's because he's under the tax threshold, in which case it's got nothing to do with his military pension scheme.

It also states "neither he nor his wife will benefit [from the energy assistance payment] as they are not pensioners".

But, according to both the ABC News and the DVA websites, the payment will also go to those in receipt of a service pension, ie, this pensioner.

Ignoring reality

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg remarkably managed to avoid even a mention of carbon dioxide emissions or climate change in Tuesday night's rather ponderous budget presentation.

Now Prime Minister Scott Morrison flippantly dismisses Labor's global carbon price policy, which is supported by the CEO of Woodside, Australia's largest oil and gas company ("Woodside boss backs global carbon plan as Morrison dubs it Borat tax, April 4, p4).

Some people, like Doug Hurst (Letters, April 4), may deny the realities of climate change, but it remains a very serious – perhaps existential – threat.

Given that a large and increasing proportion of the electorate does realise this, and ranks action on climate change no lower than No.3 on its list of concerns, Mr Morrison may have just hammered another nail into the coffin of his dying government.

Unkind cut

Your report "The five minute budget" (April 3, p.6) omitted Australia's overseas assistance.

This was $4.162 billion in 2018-19 but will be reduced to $4 billion in 2019-20.

Our aid would help prevent tuberculosis, one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. In 2017, 10 million people

fell ill with TB, and 1.6 million died from it.

Elsewhere, 767 million people around our world lived on less than US$1.90 a day in 2013.

That reduction of $162 million shows how little this government cares for them.

Prowse out of step

I agree with your editorial view (Editorial, canberratimes.com.au, April 1) that the ACT Attorney-General was right to excoriate Archbishop Prowse for pushing back on new mandatory reporting requirements.

If the archbishop can claim to have been misreported, let him do so.

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

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

Of more weight would be public responses from Catholic laypersons.

Can they bear the opprobrium of association with a leader who condones illegal behaviour by an institution that prioritises tradition over humanity and justice?

Current confessional practices have been shown to contain highly damaging elements.

The law of the land is therefore justified in requiring full accountability if, indeed, the Church wishes to maintain the practice.

It is worth remembering that findings from the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse resulted in the following recommendations regarding the Catholic Church's confessional practices: "We recommend that canon law be amended so that the "pontifical secret" does not apply to any aspect of allegations or canonical disciplinary processes relating to child sexual abuse" (Recommendation 16.10).

"We recommend that any religious institution with a rite of religious confession implement a policy that confession for children be conducted in an open space and in a clear line of sight of another adult" (Recommendation 16.48).

These recommendations are generally addressed to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

The pronouncements attributed to Archbishop Prowse therefore suggest that he is speaking beyond his authority.

It would be interesting to read an argument from the ACBC or the Vatican in favour of maintaining the seal of the confessional (if they have one).

Priestly predicament

The primary purpose of confession or reconciliation is to reconcile a person to God through the forgiveness of their sins.

Any psychological benefits are secondary. Since we are all sinners, even if some of us are reluctant to admit it, the sacrament is as relevant as ever.

The new law puts priests in an impossible situation. Either they must disobey the law which they would be most reluctant to do or they must break the seal of confession, which under canon law would subject them to an automatic excommunication which would mean they could no longer function as priests. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't.

Everybody wants to prevent any form of child abuse but this is not the way to do it.

Jolly good

Congratulations to R S Baczynski's letter ("Capital going downhill", Letters, April 2). And to quote another song: "And so say all of us".

Fire risk at Parkwood

The diagram of the Ginninderry development ("New cross-border development residents may have to pay ACT-level rates" (canberatimes.com.au, April 2) clearly shows the fingers of housing proposed intrude into the narrow conservation zone around the NSW portion in Parkwood.

This design reflects the near vertical slopes in the area and will increase the urban impact on native species that have survived over a century of pastoral activities.

It will also expose future human residents to catastrophic fire created by the steep slopes and spread by embers over many kilometres.

The current consultation by Yass Valley Council is to approve rezoning of Parkwood. At present, land closest to the ACT border is zoned for rural use, whilst a large portion abutting the Murrumbidgee River and Ginninderra Creek, including the falls, is zoned for environmental management.

Several decades ago, a wide strip along the length of the Murrumbidgee in Yass Valley Shire was designated for environmental management, presumably to protect water quality and to ensure a safe habitat for wildlife living along the waterways.

The proposed change from environmental management was not an initiative of the Yass Valley Council.

On August 23, 2017, the council accepted a settlement strategy that rezoned the five-kilometre area along the ACT border to exclude development.

The Parkwood area is within five kilometres of the border but is not included in this zone, despite its more sensitive environment.

The consultation documents, filling four large folders, are available at the Yass Council office, Yass and Kippax libraries and Hall post office.

Consultation closes on April 26.

Birds before drones

I want birds, lots of birds, right throughout the ACT.

I want to see them, hear them, notice their contribution to the natural environment and enjoy their beauty every day.

And I don't want them distressed or scared off by noisy invasive drones.

Actually, I don't want to be distressed by noisy invasive drones either.

I'd much rather be swooped on by a bird than a drone; I'd even rather be pooped on by a bird than have someone's coffee hit me from the sky.

Not all technology is necessary, good, beautiful, or even consistently useful.

But birds are. I want birds, not drones.

Concern about planning

Mike Quirk (Letters, April 2) has raised the travails of witnessing last week's Assembly committee hearings into the ACT Planning Strategy.

There certainly was too much smooth patter and reliance on folksy anecdotes, rubbery

data, fuzzy mapping and time frames in answers about the ACT government's uptake of the strategy.

It was clear it would forge ahead with more and more major residential development and renewal complexes, with attention to associated suburban and community level impacts, needs and concerns still lagging behind for the foreseeable future.

The session's content suggested that hearings on the strategy need to be held at least quarterly and be conducted more rigorously, given that the strategy will affect, increasingly, our liveability and well-being for decades to come.

Government accountability would also be well-served by several specific subject matter hearings each year, on key aspects of the strategy about which we have heard and seen less.

More transparency and better coordinated information and responses across directorates would inform not only the committee but also the ACT community about plans and delivery against key strategy objectives that impact directly on our day-to-day life, including the good design and quality of our surroundings, and the urgent need to mitigate the city's growing urban heat-island effects caused by both densification and climate change.

Driven to distraction

The ACT Legislative Assembly is inquiring into fuel prices, listing a variety of reasons why they are high.

Part of the problem must be the lack of local competition in large areas of the city.

For example, Weston Creek has one petrol outlet for almost 30,000 people if one includes Molonglo.

A small country town normally has two or three outlets.

This ridiculous situation has applied for more than 10 years, ever since the last small petrol station in the district was forced out of business by the Caltex/Woolies outlet.

Prices are high and long queues are standard at peak-hour.

If the single compressed air machine fails for a week or two (it is out of action at present) many of us must rely on the NRMA to pump up an unexpectedly leaky tyre.

Our "innovative" government has let this anti-competitive situation continue for all these years, to the great frustration of Weston Creek motorists. Why?

I am baffled as to an explanation.

Is it because the government has an ideological dislike of the possible competitors?

If so, it should get over it, and approve more sites in Weston Creek and Molonglo.

Catholic witch hunt

ACT legislative changes to force priests to break the seal of confession seem more about the application of Marxist ideology by Catholic haters, or the efforts of ill-informed meddlers, than a genuine attempt to protect children.

Any paedophiles who do feel genuine remorse are now more likely to go deeper into their sad lifestyles than to seek help and forgiveness.

All institutions should make genuine efforts to stamp out child abuse.

The Catholic church is taking real steps in this area.

The overwhelming majority of children are abused in the home by people they know.

It is more convenient for the ACT government to undertake Catholic witch hunts than to face the real problems in our society.

TO THE POINT

POPE NAILS IT AGAIN
Absolutely brilliant cartoon by David Pope (April 3, p23). As portrayed: large tax cuts, virtually no money for cutting carbon dioxide emissions (actual figures are $2 billion for the somewhat discredited Emissions Reduction Fund over 15 years i.e. $130 million per year), but billions for disaster relief from climate change-accelerated natural disasters. Absolute madness.

Rod Holesgrove, O’Connor

PRIORITIES SKEWED

On track for a surplus, off track for fairness, the homeless and those on the dole.

Jon Jovanovic, Lenah Valley, Tas

FRESH CHALLENGE

Keep up the good work David Pope. Your depiction of the boy with braces, aka Treasurer Josh, is a classic, however, just in case this was his first and last budget, have you decided on how to portray his rodeo ring nemesis, young Chris?

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW

SOMETHING SMELLS DODGY

The Morrison/Turnbull/Abbott government suddenly finds a projected budget surplus five weeks out from an election without actually doing anything substantive for years except swap leaders. That’s either accidental good economic management or total bull dust. Yep. Definitely smells like total bull dust.

Rory McElligott, Nicholls

FIGURE A WORRY

$1080. Does anyone else remember that 1080 was a poison used to kill rats and feral dogs?

Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill, Vic.

ENDORSEMENT FLAWED

Julia Gillard’s glowing endorsement of Bill Shorten for PM demonstrates she is no smarter now than when she was PM.

Mark Sproat, Lyons

BRING ON THE POLL

After six years of disunity and policy ineptitude bring on the Coalition- busting initiative, the election.

Mike Quirk, Garran

INTEREST APPALLING

It’s appalling that we pay about $18billion interest a year on our national debt. Think what that could be spent on.

Rod Matthews, Melbourne, Vic

VOTES AND THEIR VALUE

Does the federal government have actuarial advice the value of votes in the election will be $75 for one and $125 for a couple?

M. F. Horton, Adelaide, SA

HERE’S A SOLUTION

The ridiculous complexities of delivering government services in the proposed NSW suburb of Parkwood, Ginninderry, have a simple fix. Yass council should refrain from rezoning its land for urban use.

Glenys Byrne, Florey

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