Who’d want to pick a fight with carbon tax?
Paul Bongiorno introduces us to the quite delicious prospect of another emissions trading scheme scare campaign (“Re: Joyce in the minefield”, July 18-24), observing that the Abbott government reverts to “opposition mode” when things get too hard. Abbott and the residual deniers at News Corp will surely be destroyed if Labor sticks to its plan for an economically rational ETS. While Gillard’s “carbon tax” was vulnerable to what economist Barry Naughton called “Abbott’s demagoguery and cynical opportunism”, the world has since moved on. The 2013 election was not a “referendum” on the carbon tax – only 3.6 per cent of voters considered it the most important issue. A prime minister with the audacity to describe the repeal of the carbon price as a “structural reform” is being rapidly overtaken by events. Last week even the recalcitrant New South Wales Farmers Association, which had earlier campaigned for a royal commission into the hoax of global warming, was calling for genuine action. Any political capital the Coalition once had for denial and delay is now well and truly spent. Another climate scare campaign will blow back badly for the government and its distinctive oppositional style.
– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW
Water should be Ley’s big issue
I stood for the Greens in Farrer in the 2013 election (Charlotte King, “In deep water”, July 11-17). Farrer goes from Albury, west along the Murray to the South Australian border, then does a dogleg north to the Queensland border, including Broken Hill. I made my primary concern the necessity to protect the water supplies west of the Great Dividing Range. Broken Hill local radio questioned water as my main concern, saying Sussan Ley had health. I stayed with water, knowing the coming impact of climate change drying out the inland sooner rather than later. The impact of Cubbie Station just over the border in Queensland has and will continue to have a massive impact on downstream users and, now that it is owned by the Chinese, I believe this subject deserves a really good investigation due to its impact. Also, as with the coal issue and Barnaby Joyce, so with Sussan Ley sitting back and not interfering in Queensland’s domination of Darling River water. And her silence on cold seam gas creeping down into southern NSW and the food bowl here. I wonder if increased south-east lows in the future will send water west of Toowoomba and into the headwaters of the Darling. This could keep the Darling alive, while it is likely the Murray River will have up to a third less runoff and the food bowl here will suffer drastically. With better management, the roles of the two rivers may be reversed.
– Christina Sobey, Albury, NSW
Pork barrelling by another name
Mike Seccombe captured what the Australian public needs to discuss (“The $14.2 billion election fantasy”, July 11-17). However, why does nobody detail the federal industry subsidies as part of the tax, spending and foreign ownership discussions? We have had the detail of which ministers are in the property ownership game capturing federal funds with recent claims it is a business expense. Why is this not a subsidy if it can in some way be construed as a business? Negative gearing and capital gains may have been appropriate when Australia was an egalitarian society of near equals for housing development, but today it is clearly much more like pork barrelling.
– Trevor Pratt, Eaglemont, Vic
Our broken speaker’s an easy fix
One wonders why our parliaments need to adhere to Westminster practices that are clearly not useful (Editorial, July 18-24). One of them is that the speaker is an MP of the government party who is expected to be impartial but often isn’t. It is hard to accept that this is even possible in the strange two-party system that stimulates endless dysfunctional adversarialism. Why not have a truly independent chair – a senior public servant or judge who is known to be an impartial manager? Australia’s single-member electoral system is part of this problem, as is the notion that there are only “two sides of politics”, which is simply unhelpful, even nonsensical. A comprehensive inquiry into Australia’s political system is long overdue. The Greens and other minority parties should be represented in the lower houses according to the percentage of votes they receive in elections. It’s called democratic representation.
– Klaas Woldring, Pearl Beach, NSW
Howard no lover of same-sex super entitlements
Mike Seccombe mistakenly gives John Howard credit for allowing people in “interdependent relationships” to bequeath their superannuation to each other (“Final fight against same-sex marriage”, July 18-24). It was Democrat senators John Cherry and Brian Greig who in June 2004 made this a condition of passing the “Superannuation Choice” legislation – much to Howard’s annoyance. But the provision only applied to private sector funds, and Senator Helen Coonan, who was responsible for superannuation, promised that it would be immediately extended to all Commonwealth super funds. As Hansard records (22/6/04), she said she had written letters to relevant ministers. Unfortunately, senators Cherry and Greig left parliament in 2005 and the Democrats didn’t follow up. Using freedom of information, I obtained a copy of the letters in 2006 and Labor senator Sherry kept using them at senate estimates hearings to try to get Senator Nick Minchin to honour the promise – to no avail. Malcolm Turnbull and Warren Entsch took up the issue and got it to cabinet in August 2007, but, due to strong opposition from Tony Abbott and Kevin Andrews, Howard deferred the matter until after the election. In 2008, Labor removed discrimination against same-sex couples from 58 laws, including super entitlements.
– John Challis, Convener, ComSuper Action Committee, Elizabeth Bay, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 25, 2015. Subscribe here.