Vaccination rollout is a race now
I am more insulted by Scott Morrison’s incentive to encourage me to gamble than I was about Labor’s $300 bonus (Karen Middleton, “Morrison approached Tabcorp for Covid-19 lottery”, August 7-13). Already fully vaccinated, I needed no incentive to protect myself from Covid-19 or to protect others from me. Morrison’s explosion over Anthony Albanese’s suggestion was merely another example of how out of touch the LNP government is and how desperate to make itself relevant in this current climate.
– Chris Tiley, Albany Creek, Qld
Watching where the money goes
Yet another example of the need for a federal integrity commission, and one with teeth (Mike Seccombe, “Smoke and mirrors”, August 7-13). This is not saying that we expect more from our politicians than we expect from ourselves. If we believe that we act with honesty and integrity, particularly relating to money, then that is what we are asking of our politicians and public servants.
– Barbara Lyle, Tea Gardens, NSW
How to fund services better
Cassandra Goldie is correct that “we cannot afford to run away from serious debate about how we will pay for the services we need” (“The dog that caught the car”, August 7-13). A serious debate requires an honest reckoning with how services are currently financed. The Morrison government’s budget reveals that taxes and other revenues will fall $106.6 billion short of covering services this year. Yet these services, though inadequate, will still be provided. The financing gap will be bridged ostensibly by “borrowing from the private sector”, but under current arrangements, the Reserve Bank buys back $5 billion in bonds each week. If directed, it could circumvent the private sector indefinitely. So too for tax. Progressive taxation undergirds the good society, but the sooner we recognise government services can be untied from the tax take, the sooner we can fund services properly – and tax the rich regardless.
– Daniel De Voss, Zillmere, Qld
Lower taxes not the answer
The social results of lowering the tax rate, supported now by both political parties, is yet another example of the myth that it will stimulate the economy. A comparative study of 188 economies shows that “higher levels of taxation are in fact correlated with higher average income”. This is examined by Richard Denniss, Matt Grudnoff and Andrew Scott in their essay, “Life and Taxes”, in the recently published The Nordic Edge: Policy Possibilities for Australia, edited by Andrew Scott and Rod Campbell.
– Julie James Bailey, Abbotsford, NSW
Labor’s election dilemma
Cassandra Goldie sums up the dilemma for Labor. To get into office when faced with the powerful stranglehold of the right-wing media on information and analysis in this country, the party must abandon some fundamental principles of fairness and decency. There are still many areas where the country will benefit from a Labor government: public housing, aged care, Aboriginal issues, environment care and measures to slow global heating. Some sensible measures relating to negative gearing, franking credits and even death duties could be discussed and introduced incrementally over several years once their merits have been fully explained. It’s better to be in government with a moderate agenda rather than remaining a pure and powerless onlooker.
– Peter Barry, Marysville, Vic
NT happy to take federal funds
Paul Bongiorno’s comment that “Eighteen months into the pandemic, the country still has only one purpose-built quarantine facility at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory” is much too generous (“Morrison plays the other race card”, August 7-13). In fact, the Ichthys LNG Project accommodation village at Howard Springs near Darwin, finished in 2014, provided a home for up to 3500 project personnel during peak construction of the INPEX LNG Hub. The village was designed to provide temporary accommodation for fly-in, fly-out construction workers. No doubt subsidised by taxpayers along with all the other sweeteners the NT government used to lure the project away from Western Australia, the “forward-thinking” NT had no bloody idea what to do with it when the project finished. The federally funded quarantine use is manna from heaven for the perennially broke NT government.
– Charlie Carter, Alice Springs, NT
Let the sunlight in
Your editorial rightly highlighted Scott Morrison’s unprecedented use of secrecy and celebrated the win by Rex Patrick in the Federal Court exposing the “faux” national cabinet (“You call that a cabinet?”, August 7-13). But Morrison’s government has other form. In 2019, it raided the ABC and the home of a journalist, prompting The New York Times to run the headline, “Australia May Well Be the World’s Most Secretive Democracy”. More recently, The Australia Institute called the 2020-21 budget the least transparent on record, with 384 secret items. Governing by secrecy is at best a sign of incompetent leadership, and at worst a symptom of corruption. Given robo-debt, the Leppington Triangle, the sports and car park rorts, the treasurer’s $60 billion JobKeeper miscalculation, and the resistance on ICAC, it’s possibly both. Bring on a summer election. As United States Supreme Court judge Louis D. Brandeis once said, “Sunlight is the greatest disinfectant.”
– Ray Peck, Hawthorn, Vic
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 14, 2021.
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