Business leaders shirk their tax responsibility

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

It is hardly front-page news that some well-off business leaders do not like paying tax and want to contribute less to the wellbeing of our community (‘‘Business chiefs call for faster tax cuts’’, 31/8). These people want to pay less towards our hospital system, aged care, mental health services, JobKeeper payments and family violence services no matter what the circumstances. These are the things our taxes pay for.

At a time when the majority of Australians are looking for governments to keep spending to get us through the pandemic, the last thing we should be thinking about doing is giving away government revenue to the wealthy.
Mark Zirnsak, Secretariat, Tax Justice Network Australia

Logical extension of argument is to abolish all tax
According to the business sector we need to cut taxes to boost the economy. If this works then logically we should abolish taxes altogether, except perhaps a small amount to pay for our inspirational politicians?
Dave Torr, Werribee

Deficits must be paid using government revenue
Business chiefs calling for tax cuts is as unsurprising as it is irrelevant. We expect that from them, despite other considerations for the tax dollar in these difficult times. The government has a huge deficit, which can only be paid off by taxes, at a time aged care, jobless and pension support, and many other areas of government expenditure are calling for increased public expenditure.

Also, as has been seen in the past, tax cuts don’t flow 100 per cent into the community. Some reality and soul-searching from the ‘‘business chiefs’’ would be more beneficial to the community. They would need to have some useful, concrete plans for the money, in line with community needs, before any tax cuts are considered, and that includes those set for 2022.
John Pinniger, Fairfield

Business lobby attitude unsurprising
Why am I not surprised when business leaders, in a time of record public debt and unemployment, call on a Liberal government for lower taxes?
John W. Byrne, Campbells Creek

Stark policy choices facing our community
The contradictory demands by business lobbyists for bringing forward tax cuts and the calls by aged care interest groups saying billions more are needed to improve the standards of care, whether in the home or in residential settings, advocate for an increase in the Medicare levy.

Meanwhile, Richard Colbeck, the Aged Care Minister, accuses Labor of wanting to increase taxes. And meanwhile our progressive tax system is being dismantled by the government, and essential social, welfare and public services are being cut. These are the stark policy choices confronting us. Heather D’Cruz, Geelong West

Tax cuts are certainly not necessary
We do not need tax cuts. We do need public housing, public health, public education, public aged care, public broadcasting and the public service.
Colin Patterson, Nuggetty

Budgeting lunacy will not help debt situation
It is significant that while the business lobby and some conservative backbenchers are demanding tax cuts, the British government has indicated that it will impose tax hikes, especially for better-off Britons.

On a domestic level, tax cuts in this dangerous economic period would be equivalent to my dealing with an impossible credit card debt by asking my employer to cut my wages so that I can pay down the debt.
Michael R. Nolan, Capel Sound

Incentives for businesses that keep workers
Tax cuts should only apply to businesses who guarantee they won’t downsize their workforce.
Phil Alexander, Eltham

THE FORUM

Heritage destroyed
The Rio Tinto chief executive, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, will need not only to make a face to face apology meeting with the traditional owners of the Juukan Gorge caves (‘‘Rio Tinto chief to apologise to land owners’’, 1/9) but should be making an apology to the Australian people and the world as a whole for this catastrophic destruction of world and human heritage. We have lost so much, worldwide of human heritage sites through ignorant destruction in recent years. We cannot fathom what else has been lost in Australia. We could, however, understand that Monsieur Jacques would not contemplate the destruction of the ancient Lascaux Cave in France. Of course not. Loucille McGinley, Brighton East

Workers need the rise
I agree wholeheartedly with the statements made by our former PMs Keating and Rudd. Workers have already endured a six-year delay in rises to superannuation brought on by the Coalition to encourage wage rises. How has that worked out for them? Lowest wage growth in their time at the helm. Their rhetoric has proven to be false and to continue down the same path will not change the result. Workers have learnt their lesson.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Rudd’s miserly increase
The joining of former prime minister Kevin Rudd, in the chorus of concern over the federal government considering cancelling proposed future increases in superannuation contributions, is disingenuous to say the least (‘‘Keating, Rudd warn over super changes’’, 1/9). Between 1996-2007 the Howard government froze the Superannuation Guarantee Contribution at 9 per cent. For more than a decade, the required incremental increases to keep superannuation accounts at a level that would substantially ease pressure on the national pension obligation, were not met.

During Labor’s tenure in government (2007-13) he had the chance to redress this shortfall. However his government allowed only a miserly 0.25 per cent increase for the entire six-year period. Both sides of politics have over the years not honoured this worthwhile, universal superannuation initiative for working people.
Brian Boyd, Carlton

Fantasyland prevails
Bruce Wolpe’s excellent analysis of the present state of US politics (‘‘It’s now midnight in America’’, 1/9) shows, in my view the risible rhetoric American voters hear from Trump and Biden. The President wants ‘‘to save the American Dream’’ and Joe Biden goes further with the call of there being ‘‘one nation, under God, united in our love for America’’. I would expect if the Democrats had chosen the other septuagenarian, Bernie Sanders, to be their presidential candidate voters would have heard policy facts and figures, not fairytales being projected about the US. Rather than it being midnight in America the clock has stopped on reality and fantasyland seems to prevail.
Des Files, Brunswick

Protect Australian citizens
We need to be doing more to protect Australian citizens – the detaining of Cheng Lei (‘‘Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei detained in China’’, 1/9) and the Julian Assange case. For far too long, our governments have put foreign interests, whether they be the US, UK or now China ahead of the safety of our own citizens. We need to bring Lei and Assange home and if they have committed any crimes, prosecute them in Australia where we know they can be protected and treated humanely. Chenny Chen, Werribee

Move no real surprise
It came as no real surprise to read about Australian TV anchor Cheng Lei being detained in China, considering fellow Chinese-Australian, Yang Henguin, a pro-democracy activist, has spent 18 months in jail after being arrested by the Beijing State Security Bureau on suspicion of endangering Chinese national security. That is the modus operandi of the totalitarian state: arbitrary arrest and secrecy.

Is it any wonder the Hong Kong protesters are so concerned about the ramifications of the national security law Beijing has imposed on the people of Hong Kong?
Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

A search for certainty
Perhaps we could make an exception on international travel restrictions so the federal Treasurer can take a trip to Sweden to check how a near absence of restrictions has helped the Swedish economy. He would find that far from boosting the economy and providing the certainty that he and numerous business groups crave, the Swedish economy contracted in the April-June quarter. The evidence is that with the virus raging, people impose restrictions on themselves and that spending fell by nearly as much in Sweden as in Denmark. Denmark’s impositions and its low death rate is similar to Australia.

Of course, we would all like certainty. But most people would continue to focus primarily on keeping casualties down. They will stay at home regardless of the needs of business. Josh Frydenberg’s latest harangue will only enforce the various premiers’ determination to act according to health officers’ advice.
Geoff Payne, Mornington

Time to mend fences
It was refreshing to read Shaun Carney’s piece on China (‘‘China veto is clothed in doubt’’, 31/8), compared to the numerous China hawks relentlessly promoting the same old biased views. It appears that China-bashing is a popular pastime of federal politicians and local pundits. China has contributed much to Australia’s economic growth in the past 20-30 years. We need to accept China for what it is, rather than trying to change it. History shows these tactics do not work. Unless we mend our fences, our post-COVID economic recovery will be bleak. By blindly following the US, our leverage as a middle power will also be compromised.

What’s needed now is to use diplomacy rather than bellicose China-bashing. We desperately need to send a respected emissary across to start a meaningful dialogue.
Siraj Perera, Camberwell

Staffing ratios the key
All the talk about the need to reform aged care is still cleverly ignoring the main issues. This is because there is a financial cost to effective aged care and the government is not prepared to back its rhetoric with a realistically funded model. No one is talking about one of the key aspects of aged care, i.e. staffing ratios. We have ratios in other sectors – childcare, schools and hospitals, but not in aged care.

All levels of staffing need regular, compulsory training. Aged care bodies that investigate complaints need to be proactive and have strong regulations that have immediate effect when facilities transgress. Facilities need a star rating, similar to hotels and other businesses. Then when families are choosing a facility for a loved one, they would have a better idea of what they are getting. And everyone moving into an aged care facility needs an advocate.

Until the federal government mandates the return of staffing levels tied to funding and monitors food and care standards, we cannot believe the rhetoric.
Ruth Hargrave, Mont Albert

Bring back nurses
The adequacy of aged care needs to be looked at through a different template (‘‘Billions needed to make aged care ‘adequate’’’, 31/8.) I am a registered nurse and former aged care facility manager. The one critical decision which would change aged care for the better is to put nurses back into aged care. This would mean infection control principles integral to good nursing practice would be in place, and the coronavirus death toll in aged care would never occur again.

Staff patient ratios would ensure that understaffing would not occur and if Division 2 qualifications were offered to employees who then sign up for three years this would mean better pay and no need to work across facilities.
Mary Keating, Flemington

Reimagining urban life
When developing Melbourne’s strategy to reopen hospitality venues this summer, we must look to exemplars based on health safety, economic viability and reimagining urban streetscapes. In Paris, mayor Anne Hidalgo extended outdoor dining areas and patron capacity limits on pavement terraces, within social-distancing guidelines. This strategic council decision supported health advice and resulted in a burgeoning of the celebrated Parisian terrace culture. How can urban life be reimagined in Melbourne?
Emilia Fabris, Fitzroy North

Foolproof birth control
I feel for all those new communities faced with inaccurate translations of important instructions during these difficult times. When I arrived in Australia from Italy in 1970 there were no interpreting facilities. This job was often left to volunteers such as myself. However, I could not help the southern Italians. The Australians found it difficult to understand that being from the same country did not mean understanding or speaking the same language/dialect. Often in those days a worker from the factory floor was asked to translate in his native language the written instructions of a product. I still giggle when I think of the Directions for Use in Italian included in a packet of Ansell condoms, concluding with ‘‘Carefully remove and bin the penis’’. Birth control at its best.
Laura Mecca, Windsor

Frydenberg vindicated
Your article (‘‘High-risk Victorians denied hotel quarantine’’, 1/9) about 37 vulnerable people who tested positive for COVID-19 being turned away from quarantine vindicates Josh Frydenberg’s comments that ‘‘What has transpired in Victoria is like a slow motion car crash’’.

Here we are in stage four lockdown and you have this diabolical situation where people who should be isolating can’t. You better get on to this one Dan before your credibility gets shot to pieces further.
Ian Anderson, Surrey Hills

AND ANOTHER THING …

Credit:

Coronavirus
Case numbers in Victoria still in double figures and the state on the precipice, and we’re subjected to shrill screams from the federal government to open up. Deja vu?
Eben Rojter, Coburg

I must have missed the announcement, but when did Josh Frydenberg gain his medical qualification?
Tony Colson, Mentone

The Liberals clearly can’t decide which is the greater enemy – COVID-19 or Daniel Andrews’ popularity.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Instead of crushing the economy with closures, the government should let industries develop COVID-safe work practices that can keep them operating, as the AFL did.
Merryn Boan, Brighton

We must show patience to avoid becoming patients.
Nicholas Melaluka, Fairfield

Politics
Playing ‘‘Poke the Panda’’ is starting to get really dangerous. Scott Morrison please stop before anyone else gets hurt.
Barbara Lynch, South Yarra

Can we please have some real policy on branch stacking, aged care, climate change and the plastics deluge? Much better than silly buzzwords like roadmaps.
Mark Freeman, Macleod

It is telling that when Frydenberg referred to Monday’s ‘‘devastating numbers’’, he wasn’t referring to the 41 COVID-19 deaths in his home state but to Treasury figures.
Denny Meadows, Hawthorn

Where’s the Morrison government’s positive, new, post-COVID national vision that unifies us? Barbara Fraser, Burwood

F(r)ydo – woof woof.
John R. Powell, Melbourne

Was there a ceremonial cutting of red tape when China signed the Port of Darwin lease? Or was the sovereign risk negated by a fistful of dollars?
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Josh Frydenberg must have picked up one of those dog whistles ‘‘on special’’ in Canberra this week.
Max Nankervis, Middle Park

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