Fiscal inequality throws society out of balance
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Fiscal inequality throws society out of balance

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John Hewson (‘‘Rising inequality can’t be ignored’’, December 31) shines a light on an enduring problem in Australian society and reveals a lack of government policy to address the issue. If anything typifies the thinking of the NSW Coalition government on this issue then it was its decision to go ahead with the fireworks display when only those wealthy enough to live within spitting distance of the harbour, or able to pay exorbitant prices for a meal with a view, will be able to enjoy this taxpayer-funded extravaganza. The term ‘‘Green Zone’’ itself reeks of segregation and has commonly been used in many a gloomy futuristic novel or film. With the JobSeeker benefit to be slashed from New Year’s Day perhaps our wishes should be less for a happy new year and more for a much kinder one. Maureen Tavener, Norfolk Island

It is most pleasing to note that Hewson, who had difficulty some time ago explaining the taxing of a cake, now expounds the idea of equal shares of the cake for all and not just the cut and divide promoted by today’s conservatives. Go John. Ken Osborne, Bowraville

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Credit:Matt Golding

The title of Hewson’s article is wrong. We have a government that has successfully ignored it for nearly a decade. Stephen Broderick, Avalon

Hewson has highlighted the problem of the widening gap between rich and poor. Almost all developed countries have a wealth or death tax and its removal in Australia was against advice from the left and right. The only way to reinstate this tax, which would make a huge difference in narrowing the gap, is to have bipartisan agreement. It would never come about with our two-party, 2 -year electoral cycle and we need revenue to cover the Covidian years. Perhaps we could reign in the gambling problem, at the same time shifting tax receipts from Smithfield to Vaucluse. Steve Johnson, Elizabeth Beach

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Less self-serving greed and a blossoming of qualities like respect and wisdom are what I hope for in 2021. Governments and businesses whose aims are to suppress wages to benefit an entitled group, knowing full well there is no trickle-down, reveal more about their own characters with such behaviour. And stupidity. Not excessively enriching themselves at the expense of workers would mean higher workforce confidence and increased spending to boost the economy. One would also wish for greater insight from people who continue to elect governments that pretend to be working for ‘‘quiet Australians’’ but really are enabling an entitled cabal at the expense of the majority.
Alison Stewart, Riverview

The excellent articles by John Hewson and Josh Bornstein (‘‘Pay attention: wages must rise’’, December 31) clearly point out the growing inequality of income and overall wealth in Australia. That businesses grow rich by denying wage increases to hard-working employees, while governments strip away the workers’ wage bargaining ability, in spite of their increased productivity. Tragically, it is thoroughly clear the Morrison government doesn’t want this inequitable situation to change. Mark Berg, Caringbah South

Fortnight of lockdown pain for eventual gain

It is the time for courage, Ms Berejiklian (‘‘COVID-19 spoils the party as cases rise’’, December 31). A two-week lockdown now, however unpopular, will avoid disruption to the full return to work and the start of the new school year. People are not heeding the warnings or the lessons of Victoria. Philip Cooney, Wentworth Falls

As debate rages over masks and going ahead with the Sydney Test match, surely it is possible for Cricket Australia to mandate ‘‘no mask, no entry’’. Or is this too much of a barrier to profits, too?
Carey Buls, Saratoga

I am confused when Gladys Berejiklian says she is ‘‘following expert health advice’’. This seems code for what is ‘‘politically expedient’’. How else can we understand her reluctance to take instruction from epidemiologists? If she were following the science, mask-wearing would be compulsory, there would be no spectators at the cricket and all of Sydney would be in lockdown. Josie McSkimming, Coogee

Cricket at the SCG, unmasked faces on public transport and outdoor gatherings of up to 30 are allowed by the Premier but she recommends we wear masks and stay home. It’s straight from the playbook of Anders Tegnell in Sweden, where it has been a dismal failure. Wendy Varney, Leura

There is a risk in large public events causing further COVID outbreaks. Surely anyone attending an event should have to present a negative COVID test result taken within the previous 72 hours? Graeme Levien, Vaucluse

Will the scientists who are advising against compulsory use of masks please explain why you have come to this decision. Gillian Baldwin, Windradyne

Here it is easy to identify the locals. They are the ones wearing masks. The holiday hordes don’t.
Ron Russell, Leura

‘‘If you feel unwell, stay home and get tested.’’ How does that work? Bryan Hayes, Dunmore

Raina McIntyre’s article consolidates expert opinion clearly and much more convincingly than any message from the Premier. Chris Bilsland, Lane Cove

MacIntyre is my spirit animal. Owen Torr, Redfern

I’m now travelling under the name Alan Minogue (‘‘Revealed: how the stars avoided hotel quarantine’’, December 31). Alan Wells, Farmborough Heights

My concern is not with celebrity exemptions but that Dannii Minogue is regarded as a celebrity. Wayne Duncombe, Glebe

Glebe plan shows lack of respect

Glebe is only two kilometres from the Sydney Town Hall and is Australia’s most intact inner-city 19th century suburb. Ownership by the Anglican Church preserved it, purchase by the federal government in 1974 restored it and transfer to the NSW government in the 1980s nurtured it through the design of sensitive infill which respected Glebe’s heritage and increased the supply of social housing. Now the NSW Land and Housing Corporation plans to trash this 50-year legacy of good public policy and town planning. Its scheme to demolish 108 low-rise units set in gardens in Franklyn Street and replace them with 14-storey towers, and their application to rezone a heritage conservation area in Cowper Street for eight-storey buildings, is disgraceful. It shows no respect for the amenity of social housing tenants, their community or our city’s heritage. LAHC’s justification (‘‘Tenants in limbo over plan to bulldoze Glebe public housing’’, December 28) that the scheme is ‘‘better matched to the needs of residents’’ because the new buildings will have lifts, is simplistic and absurd. Janet Wahlquist, president, the Glebe Society

Compromise, not dogma

Normal times are an aberration, crises are now the norm (‘‘The lesson of 2020 is that pragmatism trumps ideology’’, December 31) – with the greatest continuing and worsening crisis being the effects of climate change. Efforts to meet this crisis are being held back by the taking of non-negotiable ideological positions. It’s time for both Morrison and Albanese to give a little, compromise and find what Tony Blair and Bill Clinton called the ‘‘third way’’. Ideology need not and should not disappear in times of crisis; it just needs to bend a little. Trevor Somerville, Illawong

In the face of the most catastrophic pandemic to afflict humanity in a century, nothing so characterises 2020 than the incalculable value of human co-operation in times of such crisis.
Beneath the sway of this Sword of Damocles, we saw that it is no respecter of persons or political ideologies. Like death itself, any crisis of this magnitude is a great equaliser. Despite our success domestically, the lesson of 2020 is that no greater resolution can be made in 2021 for the future of our world than to extend the hand of peace and co-operation to China. Vincent Zankin, Rivett (ACT)

Benefit to society

I too value the regular expert economic opinion of Ross Gittins (Letters, December 31). He has previously explained the Keynesian solution to lifting an economy out of a recession by the government becoming the spender of last resort. Unfortunately, with the government’s decision to reduce these benefits from the new year (‘‘Top economists push to raise the dole’’, December 30), many people will find themselves unable to afford basic food, rent and other necessities. The hundreds of thousands previously employed in the hospitality, entertainment, tourism and tertiary education industry – through no fault of their own – will not find these jobs back until the pandemic is fully under control. In the meantime, the social, mental and economic cost to society of cutting these benefits will be enormous. Alan Marel, North Curl Curl

Women’s work

Women do bursts of housework with rests in between. This explains why women live longer than men (‘‘Four-minute bursts of intense exercise may be the secret to longevity’’, smh.com.au, December 31). Jenny Greenwood, Hunters Hill

Smoking gun

I would like to support the comments of Senator Hollie Hughes (‘‘Ex-smoker senator now vaped crusader’’, December 31) regarding vaping as a smoking cessation choice. I made the move from cigarettes to e-cigs, then, on a trip to Singapore a couple of years ago, I reverted to cigarettes as e-cigs are banned there. It reminded me of everything I disliked about tobacco smoking but the nicotine cravings beat me. On returning to Australia, I returned to my e-cigarette with no trouble at all. It seems ludicrous and hypocritical to make the use of these smoking alternatives more difficult on the basis that they may encourage smoking in young people. Smokers and ex-smokers know that the most likely source of cigarettes for young people is those lying around at home which belong to the adults in their lives. E-cigarettes are an effective means for adults to give up cigarettes. Why ban them on the chance that they may, just may, fall into the hands of the young? Jenny Mooney, Karuah

Gallery brushed

The NSW government’s dilatory approach to COVID-19 suppression will ensure that visits into Sydney will be off limits for many weeks, if not months, to come for a large number of potential travellers, particularly those who would be reliant on public transport within the CBD. Could the NSW Premier please fund the Art Gallery of NSW to deliver an in-depth online guided tour of its main summer exhibition Streeton, which is promoted as ‘‘the most significant retrospective of Australian impressionist artist Arthur Streeton ever held’’? This would not only recognise the public service effort made to mount this 150-work exhibition but would also help maintain wider community links to Sydney’s art offerings. Investment in such connections should be nurtured since the psychological well-being of many won’t be bolstered by seven minutes of fireworks or a one-off cricket game. Sue Dyer, Downer (ACT)

Oh, they’re still here?

First day of 2021. Same COVID. Same climate change. Same ScoMo. Same Trump. Same Boris. Very disappointing. Bill Young, Killcare Heights

One reader’s delight is another’s plight

I made a bet that Proust’s In Search Of Lost Time would the next most boring book nominated. But I see that, so far, I have not won. Heather Johnson, West Pennant Hills

How dismayed I was to see A Room of One’s Own nominated as boring. Woolf’s book has been a ‘‘bible’’ for me over many decades and I’ve given it to many young women. In the last few years, I have achieved that very thing and Virginia and I couldn’t be happier. Jenny Forster, Manly

Has anybody, anywhere, ever finished Lance Palmer’s The Passage (Letters, December 31)? And I found Moby Dick a fantastic read. I must agree, though, about Wuthering Heights (Letters, December 31). Robert Hosking, Paddington

When I was 15, Jane Eyre was my heroine. At 52, giving it a read before recommending it to my daughter, I discovered that she was a self-righteous, judgmental prig. How could I have been so wrong? Genevieve Milton, Newtown

If your correspondent (Letters, December 31) yearns for a punchy Shakespearean rewrite, how about King Lear? Act 1, Scene 1, enter the king: ‘‘OK, girls, one third each.’’ Peter Fyfe, Enmore

The digital view

Online comment from the story that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on smh.com.au
How Dannii Minogue’s quarantine exemption sparked traveller outrage and police confusion
From Marcel Kimpton: ‘‘Love you Danii, but this stinks.’’

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