Letters to
the editor

Tied up in red tape

The recent changes to the application process for Commonwealth-funded grants are ridiculous in the extreme (Karen Middleton, “Sports grants expose broken system”, January 25-31). The 2019-20 Commonwealth Volunteer Grant scheme administered by the Department of Social Services is a case in point. This scheme is now open with amounts from $1000 to $5000 for eligible non-profit organisations. These funds enable organisations to buy small equipment for volunteers, undertake volunteer background checks, or reimburse volunteer fuel, transport or training costs. Previously, eligible organisations could apply directly to the department. Now they must be invited by their federal member to apply, register an expression of interest, then make an application. Don’t these organisations, most of which are doing what any decent government would be doing, have enough things on their plate without being hobbled by red tape for such meagre amounts of taxpayer dollars?

– Meg Pickup, Ballina, NSW

We must make multinationals pay tax

Thanks, Michael West, for your comprehensive report of the ongoing tax rorts the top mining companies continue to exploit under this current “do nothing” government (“Top miners pay no tax”, February 1-7). This is outrageous behaviour. These mostly multinational companies need to be made to pay. Imagine what could be done with the lost revenue? More money for public hospitals, public education, a fully equipped national firefighting organisation and more money for research into renewables, just for starters. The federal government needs to give the Australian Taxation Office more powers, if needed, to pursue these tax evaders now.

– Denise Hassett, Mount Martha, Vic

A social obligation

So I paid more taxes than five multinationals. Where is the surprise? But the difference is, I believe, that in paying taxes I am giving back to society.

– James Lane, Hampton East, Vic

No awards for everyday heroes

Eva Cox’s distinguished work as a public feminist has much more gravitas than the receiving of personal recognition in the form of awards (“Value judgements”, February 1-7). I am drawn to read about her work, admire her stance on various issues and value her contributions because of who she is as revealed in that work. And there’s the rub. Men and women who devote themselves to a cause, be it gender equality, environmental activism or other beneficial works, truly find their place by being who they are. However, often it is people in positions of prestige and esteem, with a high public profile, who reap recognition for basically “doing their job”. The awardee may have admirable qualities but so may the man down the street who is battling cancer and raising a family, thus showing courage and tenacity in great measure. Just as the woman who escapes domestic violence and makes a new life for herself and her children reveals a person of fortitude and bravery. Or the transgender person who remains invisible to society but displays strength of a high order every day. People who receive awards may give unstintingly to charity and improving the lot of homeless people by sleeping rough once a year, but what of the homeless person who pulls themselves up by the bootstraps to renegotiate life in all its messiness? I used to read the twice-yearly honours awards avidly. No longer. The Australian and Young Australian of the Year awards offer recipients an opportunity to enlarge the public profile of their work and great benefit can flow from that. But we would do well to remember that there are unsung heroes all around us.

– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW

Giving back to the community

I became very disillusioned with the honours system after I nominated a person who had spent more than 60 years with a life devoted to music as a professional musician, in the RAAF as a bandleader during the war, and in symphony orchestras and local bands on retirement. Six years after nominating this person then 80 years of age, I received a letter asking for details of this person’s further involvement since the time of the nomination, for him to be reconsidered. He may have already passed away, but fortunately he was still giving service to a local brass band and mentoring the young musicians of the Central Coast of New South Wales. I replied that if 60 years’ service was not enough, then nothing would make him worthy of an award.

– Carole Hayes, Southport, Qld

Political firestorm

I really like the sight in Jon Kudelka’s cartoon (“The perils of inadequate hazard reduction”, January 25-31) of Bridget McKenzie and Scotty the Dog throwing buckets at the fires. But I am wondering whether they are throwing water or whitewash? Cheers from sunny Eden, still a great place to live, fingers crossed.

– John Ironmonger, via email

Back to school

Maxine Beneba Clarke has done it again (Poem, “Breath”, February 1-7). Written what I’m thinking, only better.

– Terry Lustig, Kensington, NSW

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on February 8, 2020.

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