Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

The Morrison government is considering pulling forward personal incomes tax cuts ”as a way to get people spending” (”The great recession’’, September 3). That’ll be nice for the income-earners who will get the cuts, the 20 per cent (according to the Australian Tax Office) who get more than $90,000. I guess that there would be no point in giving tax cuts to the half of Australian income earners who get less than $45,000 because they’ll just save them. It is these people who get hurt by recessions. Ian Bowie, Bowral

The government’s proposal to bring forward income tax cuts is an insult to the more than one million people who are unemployed, and therefore do not have an income. If the government wants to spend $158 billion, then they should be creating jobs by spending on infrastructure projects, such as roads and railways. A tax cut for the wealthy, and those still lucky enough to have a job will only create greater inequality. Malcolm Freak, Armidale

If in doubt, roll them out. When the government could be spending on fixing aged care, or building social housing, or addressing climate change our fearless leaders choose the lazy way out. Australia used to be the lucky country. Now we are just negligent. Mark Paskal, Clovelly

I know Josh Frydenberg must be disappointed that his vision of “bringing the budget back in black” on his watch has not only evaporated, but turned into a pandemic-induced recession nightmare. However, as the federal Treasurer the buck stops with him and it’s not a good look to keep finger-pointing the Victorian Premier (“Treasurer can’t avoid his share of the blame”, September 3). Maybe he could learn to show a bit of grace by not acting like a baby whose dummy has been rudely yanked from its mouth. Alicia Dawson, Balmain

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Imagine the recession if we still had a car industry and if we still manufactured anything? What is happening to GDP? Sure, household spending is down; discretionary spending is way down but compared to what? The comparative, per capita spending on these things in 1929? This is our first real plastic-funded, services-based recession so we can’t compare it to anything. Some people are doing brilliantly. Go figure. Keith Russell, Mayfield West

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

You know that a government has run out of ideas when it brings up the old chestnuts of IR reform and the cutting of red tape (”Parallel industrial reform process a ‘cat among the pigeons’”, September 3). The first of these measures is inevitably a slow process with no short term gains while the second often involves the reduction of rules designed to protect workers’ safety or further destruction of the environment. Our federal government needs a complete rethink of how our economy will likely look in 10 years’ time and then introduce policies to achieve that vision. Peter Nash, Fairlight

It’s a technical recession if you are employed, a deep depression if you are not. Mustafa Erem, Terrigal

The Morrison government loves a compound word for their policies. May I suggest “VoteBuyer” for their plan to bring forward tax cuts? Tony Judge, Woolgoolga

NYE fireworks and COVID an explosive mix

Gladys Berejiklian has spent most of 2020 playing catch up with the coronavirus (“Easter show will go on but NYE in doubt”, September 3). She stubbornly refuses to mandate the wearing of masks on public transport. Now, her latest priority is putting on Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks. What absurdity.

The Premier should cancel the fireworks rather than risk a super-spreader event. Instead she might ask all TV channels to rerun their footage of the fireworks from last year. Maybe then we all might avoid a rerun of 2020’s devastation in 2021. Get ahead of the game, Premier. Brian Brennan, Wollstonecraft

I have never really understood the obsession with the New Year’s Eve fireworks. Reorganising my sock drawer has more appeal to me. Anyone who thinks social distancing will happen on New Year’s Eve of all nights is clearly delusional. Simon Squires, Hornsby

If you’ve seen one Sydney fireworks, you’ve seen them all. Della Strathen, Bowral

Fifteen minutes of “hope” or a lifetime of heartache and misery. With social distancing and loss of tourism why would NSW even contemplate risking an outbreak of COVID-19 and a massive waste of money.”Hope” is a job and an income. Marli Davies, Wentworth Falls

What a windfall! How about the fireworks costs going to affordable housing? Carolyn Thornley, Ashfield

Crossing the line

The Queensland Premier has been right to try to protect Queenslanders (“Texting times in cross-border feud”, September 3). There now needs to be a reality check on border closures; some rules have reached the level of the ridiculous.

AFL teams allowed to fly from Melbourne but the unfortunate residents of Mungindi unable to go a few kilometres over a theoretical line in order to obtain essentials now their supermarket has burned to the ground. Many of these decisions seem to be politically motivated. Upcoming election? Stephanie Edwards, Roseville

Would it be asking too much for all state leaders to base their constantly-changing rules on science, rather than political expediency? Peter Mahoney, Oatley

Spread far and wide

There are limited spaces to quarantine Australians who wish to return home (“Hardship funds for Aussies stuck overseas”, September 3). As a result airlines have hiked prices. The government is looking to provide loans to assist the stranded Aussies which must be repaid in six months on pain of forfeiting passports.

What about the Christmas Island facility? It was reopened at great expense to much fanfare. Surely a win-win situation would result. Australians quarantined and a white elephant being used. Christine Hackwood, North Lakes

Let’s stick to facts on gas debate

Anyone defending natural gas in transitioning to a cleaner energy future risks a flare-up from those who’ll question their authority to suggest such a perceived heresy (”Chief Scientist’s critics are wrong on gas”, September 3). But it’s not just our Chief Scientist who sees such a role for this resource — there are many other experts and agencies around the world who agree. So let’s have a realistic debate on the facts instead of the distraction of personal attacks. Christopher Zinn, Bondi

Richard Bolt expertly but perhaps inadvertently pinpoints the glaring issue with Australia’s energy mix — it’s not tilting at gas pipelines, it’s the national energy grid. The idea that we build a gas pipeline, another iteration of the dinosaur model of energy distribution infrastructure, is a backward step. Gas is part of the transition, yes, but it is already transported by sea and has sources on the east coast. We do not need to waste time, money and more energy building infrastructure from distant mines and refineries to consumers delaying the inevitable.
As the writer points out, the crucial infrastructure change and adaptation must involve the grid. In our current energy market, the march toward renewables is occurring apace, so a more flexible and decentralised grid structure is the solution.
This requires federal government action on energy policy, but it is another responsibility it is shirking. Scientists and their quite rational debates are not the great challenge here, it is federal government intransigence that stands in the way of a great energy future for Australia via a national energy grid fit for current and future purpose. Christopher Hill, Kensington

Richard Bolt helps explain the gas problem, and it is a complex issue. Using gas as back-up makes sense but my problem is this: will the gas companies invest time and money if it’s only for back-up? Will they gracefully back away when renewables ramp out or fight to hold market share? I fear they will not go quietly. Janet France, Northbridge

Runaway train

The far-seeing NSW Transport Minister believes the new batch of Waratah trains “don’t break down” (”New Chinese-built trains rolled out amid manufacturing spat”, September 3). Didn’t they say the Titanic was “practically unsinkable”? Jack Dikian, Mosman

By belittling the local manufacturing sector through sending contracts overseas, the minister et al need to realise they do nothing to nurture the economies of scale, the productivity and the local innovation that would foster a cost-effective domestic industrial base. Money sent overseas, often to support less than satisfactory outcomes, also means that there are more local families being means-tested for welfare payments because the work is just not there.
Steve Dillon, Thirroul

Fingers crossed the track record of Transport Minister Andrew Constance improves with the delivery of his new Chinese trains. Hopefully they don’t have a top deck and will fit through our tunnels. Viv Munter, Pennant Hills

Arrest over the top

When did it become acceptable for police to arrest you in your own home in front of your children and take you to the station to be charged for disagreeing with the government (”Pregnant Ballarat mum blames ‘bimbo moment’ for lockdown protest”, smh.com.au, September 3)? Police could have issued a summons and required the woman to attend court the next day. Where are all the lawyers, journalists and other activists demanding action over this flagrant abuse of power? Brendan Manning, North Epping

Positively ageing

I agree that healthy ageing needs to be presented differently (”Ageing isn’t our problem – it’s how”, September 3). At present, most talk about ageing is focused on frailty and deterioration, eliciting at best sympathy, often patronising, and at worst, dismissal. There is little mention of the hugely positive benefits we elders bring to society, especially if we can keep active and do all we can to not be a perceived drain on government budgets. Judy Finch, Cedar Party

As Pru Goward says, there is much we can do for ourselves to improve quality of life in old age but the government needs to tackle obesity and excessive alcohol consumption by taxing sugar and increasing the excise on beer, wine and spirits. Andrew Macintosh, Cromer

Audit concern

The article on the extreme fall in auditing of aged care services provided in the home is deeply disturbing (”Services providing aged care at home go unchecked”, September 3). To read that as far back as February 2019 the government was committed to action on this after Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck had flagged the need and that there has only been a reported “remarkable reduction in the number of quality reviews and assessment contacts” shows how little importance has been afforded this area of government oversight. The choice between an institution or staying at home becomes even more bedevilled. Louise Dolan, Birchgrove

The deflection skills the PM has demonstrated in coping with the aged care crisis were already well developed at the time of the “sports rorts” scandal (“McKenzie adviser made case for more ’sports rorts’ money to aid marginal seats” , September 3). A Senate committee has heard how the money available for the “biased” scheme was increased from $30 million to $100 million after a meeting between the PM and the then sports minister.
Will the PM keep refusing to comment or find another scapegoat? Judy Sherrington, Kensington

Going postal

Now let me see how this works (”Australia Post boss eligible for $277,000 deferred bonus despite board veto”, September 3). Reduce services to core customers and decrease service expectations for all stakeholders. Don’t understand why staff do not appreciate working longer hours and having to include different work for the same amount of money. Don’t understand why clients can’t see the changes as beneficial. Set KPIs, then tailor the results to allow for a big fat bonus for management while the rest of the country is reeling from a recession. What on Earth are the criteria used and who hires the CEOs for Australia Post? Lesley Buckley, Niagara Park

Simply superb job

Now we know why our country has no high mountain ranges (”Lyrebirds ‘displace 155 tonnes per hectare’ downhill”, September 2). Bob Liddelow, Avalon

Force of Abbott

Tony Abbott says men of conviction like himself get things done (”UK’s political foes reject Abbott as poor choice”, September 3). If I could, I’d ask him to explain the difference between a man of conviction and a dogmatist. John Grinter, Katoomba

Correspondents lambasting Abbott for espousing COVID strategies that might cost lives should be aware that public policy routinely does this on a daily basis (Letters, September 3). Take examples from engineering economics. This level crossing has 1.2 fatalities per annum. A set of gates and lights would cost $3.2 million. Build or not? And so it goes. Do we raise that dam wall? Widen that median strip? Expand that hospital? Every single decision has specific consequences for lives lost or not lost. COVID strategies are no different. Brian Haisman, Winmalee

Only someone from the conservative right, with its tendency to think in terms of the survival of the fittest, could articulate the views expressed by Abbott. The present times should have made us all realise that we are indeed part of a community. As John Donne wrote in the1600s: ”Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know from whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.’ Peter Lightbown, Wahroonga

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