Promised tax cuts make less sense as the world changes

Labor won’t be able to cement its claim as being the better financial manager if it sticks with the stage three tax cuts. That would go against an election promise but after all, as Keynes said: “When the facts change, I change my mind” (“PM’s budget dead-end for Dutton”, May 13). Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

Can Peter Dutton please tell me how we can fix the current housing problem if we don’t allow any increase in immigration, given the chronic skills shortages in the building industry? Or does this come under the umbrella of “which came first, the chicken or the egg”? Rees Hughes, Oyster Bay

Megan Herbert

Megan HerbertCredit:.

When will the government come up with new policies with a positive outcome for those affected instead of decisions made on political support? The recent budget will affect the ability of pharmacies and GP practices to stay in business; survival could mean reducing their opening hours. These policies will have long-term impacts, deterring future generations from considering a career in pharmacy or being a GP. The government knows that GPs are in short supply. Please consider the implications of policies instead of always looking for votes. Susan Chan, St Ives

It is disappointing that the surplus in Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ budget was not directed towards ameliorating our myriad social problems rather than towards improving the bottom line of future budgets, just to show the ALP government was a better financial manager than the Coalition.
Ian Falconer, Turramurra

The political reality is that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese cannot touch the stage three tax cuts until after the Voice referendum, for fear of being wedged by Dutton and derailing support for the Voice (Letters, May 13). Hopefully, following a successful referendum, a pragmatic adjustment for bracket creep can then be proposed and accepted. Peter Allen, Castle Cove

Your writer asks what happened to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s infrastructure agenda and rightly notes capacity constraints and the burgeoning costs of materials. I am pleased that the minister has ordered a review of projects in the works but I remain concerned that some major projects that have little or no chance of ever becoming viable are still proceeding. They are a drag on the budget and they contribute to those capacity constraints and cost blowouts. Two such projects are Snowy 2.0 and the rail project being pushed through western NSW. Both should be mothballed immediately. Both should be required to publish financial and environmental reports, to be open to the public for scrutiny. Brian Everingham, Engadine

The public information about projects on state and national infrastructure lists is very cursory. Most major transport projects are election promises and this is why little analysis is done. Transport networks must be analysed frequently to inform the changes and improvements we should make to them. As France has found, public engagement and public reporting are key to the quality of analysis and the effectiveness of infrastructure. Peter Egan, Mosman

Gambling addiction ripples through society

Online gambling has grown under our noses, as our ambivalent government failed to snuff it out (“Dutton pressures sport on gambling”, May 13). The worry is that Big Sport and the federal government have now become reliant on this new revenue source.

When their habit is criticised, or when marketing controls are proposed, many online gamblers will declare something like: “You wowser! This is a free country and online gambling is so convenient. Anyway, I am not addicted, but I enjoy a flutter. I don’t bet what I can’t afford to lose.” Really? That is the insidious nature of psychological addiction. The addict doesn’t suffer heart attacks or lung cancer, but for many as their destructive addiction grows inexorably, it costs all members of society. Geoff Black, Caves Beach

Peter Dutton thinks the AFL and the NRL and their leaders would be hypocritical if they do not support bans on gambling commercials yet support the Voice to parliament.

If so, how does he judge an organisation or its leader who supports bans on gambling commercials but does not support the Voice to parliament? On Dutton’s terms, such must also be an act of hypocrisy. And who fits into that latter category – he does! Andrew Thomas, Leichhardt

While it’s not every day that the beleaguered opposition leader utters something eminently sensible, the maxim “do as l say, not as l do” somehow pops up. Suggesting the respective AFL and NRL bosses should adopt a moral responsibility to wean themselves off gambling revenue sounds a wee bit rich coming from the highest-ranking Liberal in the land. Gambling’s disastrous consequences are well documented and our elected decision-makers are fully cognisant of them. Yet kicking the habit, pardon the pun, proves mission impossible. Considering that Liberal and Labor, at the state level at the least, are addicted to gambling revenue, these wise-sounding words ring hollow. For a healthier society in all its manifestations, all levels of government need to follow Dutton’s safe, though in this case selective, advice. Cleveland Rose, Dee Why

I can well imagine that I’m just one of a legion of dumbfounded Dutton-loathing letter writers who cannot believe that they are now in agreement with not one but two of his positive campaigns: fighting gambling and arguing for the right of JobSeeker recipients to work more. If he continues on a road of worthwhile policies instead of his usual aggressively knee-jerk adversarialism to whatever the government proposes, who knows where he might end up? Anne Ring, Coogee

We need to change the narrative around housing

I wish I shared your correspondent’s optimism that people objecting to increasing housing density and social housing “are not at all opposed to well-designed affordable and social housing” (Letters, May 13). As we’ve watched housing move more and more from a basic human right to a method of wealth creation, it seems to me that what people care most about in housing is their home’s value and how fast it’s rising. We can rewrite the story as much as we like, but until we start to care more about the “have-nots” than the “haves” it will always have a sad ending. Prue Nelson, Cremorne Point

State governments already tax empty houses and those with more than one property through land tax. The federal government already supports the supply of housing by providing incentives to investors in the form of negative gearing. As with any commercial venture, property investment incurs costs which can be claimed against income. Without that tax relief, very few investors could afford a property to lease out to those wanting to rent. The resulting flood of sales would see prices drop, and the reduced stock of rentals would see astronomical rises in homelessness and rents. Anne Cooper, Stanmore

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

It is always troubling to glance at the Title Deeds section and see which rich and famous person has just added another multi-million dollar property to their portfolio. (“Kidman makes it six in a row with $7.7m Milsons Point buy”, May 13.) How many houses can you live in? I suspect these properties go unoccupied for much, if not all the time. Wouldn’t it be nice if these rich folks could make their empty homes available to those poor and homeless folks who can’t find affordable housing? Craig Forbes, Lewisham

Moonee Ponds misses out

It was pleasing to read Andrew Hornery’s correction of Oscar Humphries’ claim that the family’s choice of Sydney over Melbourne for Barry Humphries’ state memorial wasn’t a repudiation of his own hometown. (”Melbourne snub from Humphries”, May 13.)

As a friend of 61 years, I can attest that it is true that Barry was saddened by the increasingly woke Melbourne Comedy Festival removing his name from the event he co-founded, and disappointed that the Victorian government didn’t intervene. But there is more to the story. In recent years, Barry often told me that he deeply disliked the Andrews government and all that its socialist policies and practices represented. Hence the family’s decision for Barry’s state funeral not to be held in Melbourne but in Sydney, where he maintained a residence for many decades. Ross Fitzgerald, Redfern

Voice View

Former-PM John Howard has criticised the NRL for publicly supporting the Voice, as documented by your correspondent Peter FitzSimons (“Kudos to the NRL for backing the Voice. Now for the rest to follow their lead”, May 13). Howard is of the opinion that politics and sport do not mix and that sporting organisations should stay out of the referendum debate. Unfortunately, he is profoundly wrong and myopic in his politicisation of all things in public life. The Voice referendum is a moral issue, not a political one. As such, ex-prime ministers such as Howard would do well to keep their own counsel unless expressing a personal, apolitical view which is no more or less important than mine. Dale Bailey, Five Dock

Trucks to stay

Your correspondent expresses the hope that oversize SUVs; “monster trucks” will disappear with a comprehensive shift to electric vehicles (Letters, May 13). Regrettably this may not be the case. In the most recent Quarterly Essay, “The Wires That Bind”, author Saul Griffith reports that many large electric vehicles are now available in the US, including the Rivian R1T which is bigger and faster than the current Ford Ranger. And there are already one and a half million pre-orders for the Tesla Cybertruck, which is even longer and about the same three-tonne-plus weight as the Rivian. It is quite likely that the proliferation of oversized vehicles on our city streets will be even worse when we make the transition to EVs. John Ure, Mount Hutton

Minority view

I have been very fortunate to have bush walked, fished and skied in the Kosciuszko National Park and also, presumably, used power generated in the area. Whilst I would be the first to acknowledge that I have contributed to the environmental impact on the area, the scale would be miniscule compared with the growing destruction by feral horses.

I have also worked closely with horses. However, I find it totally reprehensible that National Parks staff are intimidated for their involvement, directly or by association, in the culling of the Kosciuszko feral equine herd (“National Parks juggles death threats and stalking as well as feral horses”, May 13). A sound management plan has been developed to control the problem and this must be accepted and implemented. To not do so is an attempt to enforce a minority view to the detriment of our national heritage. Roger Epps, Armidale

Assange responsibility

Will the Herald please explain how Julian Assange’s current limbo is “of his own making” (“The time has come to end the sorry Julian Assange saga”, May 13)? He revealed our war crimes, not those of some official enemy. The responsibility for the limbo lies with three governments; notably the Australian government for not demanding the release of a particularly brave Australian citizen and kowtowing to the US and Britain. Stephen Langford, Katoomba

Aquarius memories

I’m 75 and vaguely remember going with friends to the Aquarius Festival at Nimbin in 1973 (“The Aging of Aquarius”, May 13) Highlights include chatting up my now wife who was volunteering in the food tent and sharing the open air urinal with Doug Anthony while we talked about growing avocados. Jim Rogers, Byron Bay

Scenes from the 1973 Aquarius Festival in Nimbin.

Scenes from the 1973 Aquarius Festival in Nimbin.Credit:Peter Derrett

Cormann’s cost

Now that Mathias Cormann has landed the plum job as boss of the OECD perhaps he could think about repaying the $380,000 spent by the Australian taxpayer and approved by Scott Morrison for him to fly around Europe lobbying for the position (“From climate wars to Putin’s conflict”, May 13).
Cornelius van der Weyden, Balmain East

Snail mail fail bewailed

How long should it take for an item posted in Yamba 2464 to arrive in Casino 2470, a road distance of a bit more than 100 km? Mum’s Mother’s Day card, posted a week ago, is still “in the mail” so I reckon May 25 has to be the deadline for posting my Chrissie cards to other Aussie destinations.
Col Shephard, Yamba

Eurovision v coronation

Two weekends of expensive celebration involving international customs and music, vibrant colour, diversity, history and politics. But honestly did you enjoy Eurovision more (“Australia’s starship Voyager soars into the final frontier”, May 13)? Jo Rainbow, Orange

He should fret not. The game is about power and as the monarch is mainly a ceremonial role, all his fancy robes won’t cut it ( “Charles seemed bored at his crowning. Perhaps, like us, he has no clue what modern kings do”, May 13). Steve Ngeow, Chatswood

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
One in 10 homes in Sydney’s inner west is empty. The council wants them taxed
From Sheryl Black : “A vacant house tax seems reasonable in principle, I think the government should start a discussion about it.”

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Justin Scaccy

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