The welfare economy: winners and losers
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Andrew DysonCredit: .
I sometimes envisage Australian social welfare as akin to an old-time boarding house for the desperate that is owned by the family from the mansion on the hill who exist in a totally disconnected economy. Life for those in the house is miserable but they have no other choice.
The house has gone beyond its use-by date and should be pulled down, but where would the residents live and the service providers who keep the ramshackle functioning be employed? The prospect of real change is daunting and threatens chaos, so the dilapidated structure keeps creaking and wobbling on. In the meantime, the family on the hill look forward to enjoying their promised tax breaks.
Peter McCarthy, Mentone
When the numbers are mind-boggling
I was pleased to see the headline, “Three vice chancellors paid $1million-plus”. But disappointingly, the article starts: “Three Victorian university vice chancellors earned more than $1 million last year.” Nobody “earns” $1 million, let alone multiple millions.
In all the discussions of the state of the economy, no one ever mentions the mind-boggling amounts that some people are paid and how that skews so many of the numbers that get bandied about. Housing is just one example.
Society has gone nuts.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn
It’s just peanuts for some
The report, “Tax changes leave middle-income earners out of pocket” (12/5), states: “Analysis by the ANU’s Centre for Social Research and Methods shows that once the stage 3 tax cuts kick in next year, middle-income households – those earning about $100,000 – will have $172 less disposable income than in 2019.”
If you bring this down to a daily cost as most commentators like to do, it amounts to 47¢ a day. Somehow, I don’t think if you are earning about $100,000 a year, you are going to miss 47¢ a day.
Alan Inchley, Frankston
Wrong questions all round
Why is it that journalists persist with asking the question akin to “what does the budget mean for your hip pocket?” Wrong question. Shouldn’t the question be: “How does the budget make our society fairer?”
Given what Jim Chalmers announced on Tuesday night, the answer to question one is not a lot. And the answer to question two is, it doesn’t.
Jack Morris, Kennington
Needs of real life take a back seat
Bill Shorten announced this week that the NDIS was initially designed only for “those profoundly affected by their disability”. This is not the impression that has previously been given to the public. Rather, that in order for those with a disability to live a full life, NDIS was there to provide for their “real life” needs.
To deny this opportunity and right to all, would be a step backwards in our striving for a more equal society.
Betty Alexander, Caulfield
Stop the infighting
Once again, the Victorian Liberal Party is on the path to self-destruction with the expulsion of Moira Deeming. John Pesutto and his supporters are more obsessed with internal warfare than ridding Victoria of the Andrews government.
Perhaps Deeming and her 11 supporters in the party ballot could consider forming a coalition with National and other conservative MPs. Who knows, they could even gather sufficient support to take over opposition from the useless Liberal Party and finally start to attack the Andrews government effectively.
John Pritchard, Melbourne
Pesutto is the man
The Victorian Liberal Party appears to be on a painful course to regain relevance to mainstream voters with the expulsion of Moira Deeming. John Pesutto is the only current MP who is capable of leading them to election victory. Some others appear to value ideological positions over electoral success.
Hopefully, they will become more like Dick Hamer’s Liberals.
John Marks, Werribee
Dementia is described by many as ″the worst disease of all″. In its latter stages, an individual can be robbed of their personhood, autonomy, and ability to care for themselves. Family members determined to look after their loved ones at home often reach a stage where it becomes a distressingly impossible feat.
Victorian voluntary assisted dying legislation specifically excludes dementia as an eligibility criterium because one must be deemed competent at the time. However, a fundamental objective of this legislation is to allow a person control over their death and relieve unbearable suffering, yet those with dementia are discriminated against. This makes the issue of dementia and access to voluntary assisted dying a highly complex and contentious issue.
Individuals with dementia often encounter problems with communication and are unable to convey the existence and extent of their, often unobserved, pain and anxiety. We must then ask, are the wishes of a once-competent individual to not suffer a prolonged existence in the latter stages of dementia adhered to, or are they ignored because that same individual, now incompetent, no longer exists?
Jane Morris, Glen Iris
Be wary of change
Letters correspondents have written of the sad circumstances of family members dying with dementia. Many families, our own included, have been affected in this way.
The solution implied by your correspondents is to allow such patients access to voluntary assisted dying even if, because of their dementia, they cannot give informed consent. This will require the law to be changed.
We are rightfully wary that changing any law may have unintended consequences. To change this law in the way proposed would mean that the term ″voluntary″ would need to be deleted. In the absence of informed consent of the patient, the decision would be made by other people. To allow a patient’s life to be terminated without their consent, which might occur if the law is relaxed, is not a change we should countenance.
Irwin Faris, Torquay
Nuclear a weak case
Peter Dutton, in his budget reply, wants us to at least consider nuclear power, and believes it is a logical step, since we will – some day – acquire nuclear-powered submarines. But the case, if there ever was one, becomes weaker over time.
The Clean Energy Council reports that renewable energy “accounted for 35.9 per cent of Australia’s total electricity generation, up from 32.5 per cent in 2021. That figure has more than doubled since 2017, when renewable energy accounted for just 16.9 per cent of generation”. The International Energy Agency has stated that solar is now the cheapest form of energy in history.
Proponents of the nuclear option would divert resources away from our burgeoning renewables sector; and their nuclear option would take about a decade to build.
We already have the natural resources of sun and wind in abundance. What is needed urgently is a steadfast advocacy and financial support for renewables.
Fiona Colin, Malvern East
Divide and conquer
Over the years, politicians from within the ranks of the Coalition have referred to trade unionists taking legitimate industrial action as “thugs”, the unemployed as “dole bludgers”, refugees as “illegals”, our Indigenous community as having a “black armband” history, and now Peter Dutton wants to demonise migrants for allegedly creating more housing shortages and driving inflation even though the Coalition itself when in government actively encouraged migration as a cheap labour force for businesses and farms across Australia.
Some would call this an appalling record of perpetrating divisive politics.
Phil Alexander, Eltham
Two Liberal MPs have quit the party in Tasmania and now sit on the crossbench as independents, thereby throwing the Liberals into a minority government.
The reason? The deal with the AFL to get an AFL team on the proviso that stadium is built on a prime waterfront site that is unsuited for a footy stadium.
What stunned most Tasmanians was the support from Anthony Albanese. Tasmania just cannot afford it. We have the worst health, education and homelessness scenarios in Australia.
Battery Point, Hobart
Peter Dutton said that Labor had already broken many promises. It seems Dutton has had a memory loss. Was it not John Howard who stated there would be no GST, and Tony Abbott who stated no cuts to the ABC?
All politicians seem to break promises.
Breta Cohen, Blackburn North
Ban the SUV
Julian O’Shea (Comment, 12/5) asking why people buy “truckzillas” is a question I have pondered for a considerable time. Living in one of the smallest streets in Carlton with lovely neighbours, I am at a loss that 20 per cent of them have bulky SUVs (admittedly one is a project manager in the construction industry). The situation is compounded if an actual tradesman needs to work in the street.
Perhaps inner-city councils should as well as lowering speed limits look to ban SUVs that are not used by tradesmen.
Peter Roche, Carlton
No yen for Tokyo
The angst about the housing crisis is worsening daily (“Memo to Melbourne: don’t mimic Monaco”, 12/5). Melbourne’s future seems destined to be forever plagued by unaffordable housing, box-like apartment living, fights over high-rise developments, more congested roads, and loss of quiet, green spaces. And our wishes to save bushland and forests, and reduce carbon emissions are being thwarted by seemingly unstoppable urban
One reason is the media space given to the “growth pushers”, those celebrating Melbourne out-growing Sydney; those who judge a successful city not on residents’ quality of life but on the altar of economic growth.
I don’t want our city to become another Tokyo or New York.
Ian Penrose, Kew
When is enough enough?
Peter Dutton has raised an important issue in questioning the high rates of migration. Many organisations benefit from the consequences of population growth but the effect of more people is not going to solve the problems Australians have of insufficient housing and schools, inadequate health facilities, pollution, traffic congestion and higher energy costs, but rather exacerbate it.
The government’s policy seems to be more people at any cost, regardless of living conditions and the consequences on the environment. Where is the endpoint in the scheme to increase Australia’s population?
Leigh Ackland, Deepdene
AND ANOTHER THING
The Liberal party room, now there’s an oxymoron.
Paul Custance, Highett
Liberals and Greens, perfectly suited. Wreckers together.
Judy Loney, Drumcondra
When Peter Dutton says he wants to unite the country, what he really means is uniting those who follow his divisiveness.
Henry Herzog, St Kilda East
Peter Dutton – so many principles and ideas in opposition (when it doesn’t matter), so few in government (when it does).
Peter Thomson, Brunswick
First the carbon tax and now social housing. Will the Greens ever learn?
Arthur Pritchard, Ascot Vale
Donald Trump knows how to stop the war in Ukraine in a day. Surely as a responsible and potential leader he must share his secret.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor
You see what you want to see. Trump creates a pea and thimble show. Then you realise he’s not joking.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton
Your correspondent questions what GPs earn (Letters, 12/5). I doubt that they earn anything like footballers or pop singers. Out of their salaries they have to pay for at least seven years of study and to set up a practice. They deserve every cent.
Chris Rhodes, Gisborne
Will the Victorian government acknowledge correspondent Helga Kuhse’s (Letters, 12/5) expose of the gross inadequacy of the state’s voluntary assisted dying arrangements?
Ian Powell, Glen Waverley
The proposed 30 km/h limit for Yarra streets is unnecessary. Having lived in the area for many years the
40 km/h worked adequately. The 30km/h trial in Wellington Street, Collingwood, is ridiculous especially in off-peak times.
Mary Fenelon, Doncaster East
One of the best Mother’s Day gifts is running or walking in the Mother’s Day Classic on Sunday for a worthy cause such as breast cancer research.
Barbara Fraser, Burwood
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