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Credit: Illustration: Jim Pavlidis
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Whatever happened to the lucky country of my youth? Australia is drowning in red ink, with public infrastructure and social services at bursting point. Now, Victoria’s Andrews government has deemed anyone who owns more than one property as “filthy rich”, with its obscene increases in land tax.
Beach houses and country retreats that are second properties are not investment properties. It is an insult for Andrews and his treasurer Tim Pallas to classify them as such. They are the fruits of long labour, a reward for 30, 40 and 50 years of dedicated work and prudent care of the financial rewards for that work.
I have a home in Sorrento in a street of a dozen houses. To the best of my knowledge, all of them are used exclusively as a getaway for the owners and their families. None is used to generate income. How, then, are they investment properties? As I understand it, it is a similar situation throughout Sorrento and Portsea. I suspect it’s much the same on the Bellarine Peninsula.
It is cynical to include people’s second houses under the heading of “investment properties”, with the connotation they generate weekly income. Andrews and Pallas are exploiting the modern trend to denigrate anyone who has managed their affairs so efficiently they can buy a second property. Holding owners of multiple properties to account is fair because they clearly are investors, generally negatively gearing properties for rent and capital improvement, but a second property doesn’t constitute “multiple properties”. It’s not as if we don’t pay land tax, anyway.
Michael Sheahan, Albert Park
Warning bells ringing
Focusing on the state budget’s spiralling debt projections (“State’s debt woes eclipse key overseas economies”, 25/5), alarm bells are ringing. With debt already sitting at $100 billion as of June 2022, for the Andrews government to simply keep driving it 71 per cent higher to $171.4 billion by 2026/27 seems reckless. Should interest rates continue to rise, Victoria’s credit rating fall or economic shocks emerge, it will be difficult for the state government to absorb revenue declines or provide stimulus. And with both Andrews and Pallas likely to exit politics by the next election, they are leaving this debt legacy for future incumbents and generations to grapple with.
Mathew Knight, Malvern East
Who should pay?
Victoria made some mistakes when fighting COVID. But experts agree we would have lost around 13,000 to 15000 more lives had Victoria not taken such strong action. It was an absolute emergency particularly before vaccinations, it required drastic action and it cost a huge amount of money. So who should pay?
We all benefited ultimately as a community and those who can afford to pay something need to step up. The budget makes a start. One way of recovering the billions of dollars lost to government revenues is to stop the systematic movement of community wealth to fewer and fewer people via various concessions such as negative gearing, superannuation concessions, capital gains and franking credits.
Tim Mahar, Fitzroy North
The medicine that was required
The question should be asked whether the current tax measures go far enough. Increasing land tax on property investors seems a prudent and consistent policy, but should not the burden be shared by all Victorians given that “we were all in this together” during the pandemic? In 1993 the Kennett government introduced a state deficit levy on all rateable properties. Although unpopular, as most flat taxes are, it may have been the economic medicine the state’s finances needed.
William Mulholland, Elsternwick
Where would you cut?
Where should government spending have been less? On our hospital system, schools, roads, courts, public transport, police force, or on the cost of protecting the community and business from the worst COVID could have caused?
John Groom, Bentleigh
No right to complain
Before people listen to Victoria’s “private” schools as they cry poor (“Private schools rail at new payroll tax impost”, 25/5) maybe everyone should first understand that they already receive huge windfalls of public money from the federal government. The real outrage is that all this time they’ve received a payroll tax exemption in the first place.
Why should the taxpayer be funding, in multiple ways, schools that entrench segregation in education while public schools remain grossly underfunded?
Todd Jorgensen, Healesville
Sort your priorities
So, Caulfield Grammar has more than 3300 students and more than 500 staff. I wonder how many government schools have that kind of student-to-staff ratio. Before raising fees to pay the new taxes, I suggest schools such as Caulfield Grammar do what government schools did when Kennett cut funding to education. Faced with the same number of students and fewer staff, schools focused on keeping teachers in classrooms. Many non-teaching positions were allotted less time or were eliminated.
Is a full-time marketing and communications position (as was recently advertised) or a teacher in the classroom more important?
Jan Thomas, North Melbourne
Hope and education
Thursday May 25 was Public Education Day. I was extremely fortunate to be one of the millions of Australian children who attended public schools in the 1960s and 1970s, and I know the positive impact it had on my life. Back then, Australia’s public education system had few equals across the world. It provided hope, opportunity, and purpose – no matter who you were.
Right now there is deep inequality in school funding and public schools are being denied the full funding they deserve. Proper funding would make the world of difference for public schools. New and improved facilities and equipment, more teachers and education support staff, smaller class sizes, and more one-on-one individual attention for students to help them learn and achieve their best.
Every child deserves the opportunity for a bright future, regardless of their background or circumstances.
Robert Van Zetten, Highton
Tenant or landlord? Easy
Re: the self interested complaints of the property council (“Will the $8.6 billion tax slug really only hit the top end of town?” 25/5) I have been ripped off both as a tenant and a landlord so I’ve seen both sides of the fence.
Luckily for me I am now neither. I quickly learned it is infinitely more pleasant to be a landlord than a tenant and you get listened to a lot more when things go wrong. As a tenant, five of my seven landlords were terrible and two were great including my last one. The bad ones were nightmares to deal with and don’t get me started about agents.
John Fraser, Reservoir
Good men tarred
Adam Voigt (“Why male primary teachers are vanishing”, 25/5) summed up exactly why I left primary teaching in the 1980s. My father Maurice was a well respected state primary school principal for many years and seven of my eight siblings followed Dad into a career in education. I chose teaching as I have had and always will have an abiding love of young people.
As the only man in a small primary school, it was me who got the balls off the roof, worried about giving my students a hug when that was clearly what was required and preferred to do extra yard duty with the kids instead of sitting in a staff room filled with women who were beyond my years and interests.
I have always felt sad that good men are tarred with the “unmanly” brush, or worse as someone whose interest and love for kids is seen as suspicious. After a long career in secondary education working with students and their families in pastoral care and wellbeing, I have seen that the lack of meaningful male role models in the lives of some children has been detrimental to their development.
Meaningful school programs that enhance positive relationships between children and parents/mentors can have an extremely positive effect on young people and adults alike.
Bren Douglas, Alphington
The wrong sort of teacher
Adam Voigt is to be commended for his grim yet true picture of what many male primary teachers face. However, I would like to add something he overlooked. As a postgraduate student, I was placed at a school with few male staff (I was number three) and one with a poor work environment.
It did not take long for me to learn I was the “wrong sort of male primary teacher”, leading to isolation in the staff room and after eight days, my departure from the school. It was later suggested that because I was not a “teddybear” (older male teacher), despite working well with children and parents I was never going to fit in. Today, I am not in the profession.
Anders Ross, Heidelberg
Thank you Adam Voigt for a stirring and eye-opening insight into the demands and stereotyping of a person identifying as male in the education sector. Your plea for equality in your workplace is clear and must be sustained to raise awareness, and effect change. It made me ponder the plight of teachers in the LGBTIQ community.
With respect to your observation that the minority “males” are drawn into extra work that is perceived as high performing and this funnels them into leadership roles, why are these majority leading “men” not the leaders of change?
Furthermore, people identifying as females in similar minority roles in many other professions, unfortunately don’t end up in leadership positions. Why is that? I can only imagine what plight befalls members of the LGBTIQ community.
Monika Samolyk, Wangaratta
A new industry rises
Your correspondent says vale to the native forest timber industry. Be positive — let us finally say rise to the continuation and expansion of growing and, finally, sustainably using new native species forests on private land. It is the end of the use of public land for native timber production, not native timber production.
Voices having been saying “grow your own” for over fifty years in Victoria. Let’s ramp it up now.
Geoff Wescott, Northcote
Time to connect
The raw, pristine Tasmanian wilderness initially drew me to watch Alone Australia (“Survival show winner wanted more Alone time”, 25/5). Observing the different ways in which contestants interacted with the natural world, however, quickly became compelling. While some sought to overcome and wield power over the environment, others worked with it. All appreciated and revered it. There is a lesson from Gina Chick’s extraordinary time in the wilderness: we are part of nature and it is part of us. I share Chick’s concern that experiencing and appreciating the great outdoors is “what’s missing in our modern lives”. Take a leaf out of this wonderful woman’s book: go outside and connect with nature.
Amy Hiller, Kew
No reverse gear
In a recent poll conducted by Redbridge Group regarding the referendum, over 15 per cent of respondents who said they intended to vote yes stated their reason was to “Try something new”. I wonder whether such voters realise that the Voice will be permanent and there will be no chance of the government reversing the decision should the Voice face difficulties.
Adrian Hassett, Vermont
Peter Dutton’s comments about “re racialising” Australia, followed the next day by Scott Morrison’s speech about the Voice opening racial divisions, are dangerous and ill informed. It serves only to appeal to fears which hopefully our nation will recognise as unfounded and bigoted. Where was Dutton’s concern about racial divisions when he brought out the dog whistle in his attempt to influence the Victorian state election by demonising Melbourne’s African population? They also maintain vociferous support for maintaining the status quo for Australia Day despite the obvious racial overtones and cultural insensitivity of that day.
Dhiren Singh, Malvern
Lock it in
People like Scott Morrison (the latest in a long list of underwhelming politicians like Peter Dutton and Pauline Hanson who are also saying No) are the very reason the Voice to Parliament needs to be protected by the Constitution, so it can’t be easily abolished in the future by conservatives who think they know best. Professor Megan Davis says ″don’t talk about us without us″ – it makes sense.
Belinda Burke, Hawthorn
Trust in a fix
The elephant in the room is that no one wants government processes to become more cumbersome than they already are and that there will not be any act of government that does not impact a First Nations person. I am putting my faith, nervously after my Yes vote, in government finding a working model that ensures the Voice deals with First Nations issues effectively without hamstringing those things that affect us all equally. A No vote will set back the improvement of First Nations people’s lives immeasurably, as well as making us an international laughing stock.
Julian Guy, Mt Eliza
With a little help
I hope the mum featured in the article about financial pressure (The Age, 25/5) shows her appreciation of the grandma who is looking after the eight-month-old, three days a week, so that she is able to return to work. Perhaps the headline could have been “Mums (and grandmas) take the strain as costs climb”.
Maryanne Barclay, Frankston South
Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding
AND ANOTHER THING
Tax on elite schools
So private schools were exempt from paying payroll tax, because, it was argued, they were performing a public good, when those actually performing a public good, public schools, were required to pay it?
Samantha Keir, East Brighton
If payroll tax-hit private schools need to shed teachers there are plenty of understaffed state schools that will employ them.
David Johnston, Healesville
Private schools are run as a business and in most cases very successfully. Many were the recipients of JobKeeper which enabled them to make healthy surpluses during the COVID years. The should pay payroll tax like any other business.
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava
The comparison with other “states” (“State’s debt woes eclipse key overseas economies”, 25/5) is meaningless. Your reporters could have added that under Henry Bolte debt was nearly 60 per cent of state gross product.
Margaret Ludowyk, Brunswick
If you tax landlords more, it stands to reason that they will pass on that cost, to make rents even higher.
Craig Tucker, Newport
It won’t just be Albanese’s honeymoon that will be over, but our children’s future if Niki Savva’s view of the Dutton strategy of “destroying the referendum, hoping the economy crashes and xenophobia rises” comes to pass.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn
Peter Dutton is opposing the Voice because he sees it as his best chance of claiming a “victory” over the government. The sooner people realise that the Liberal Party’s credibility lies with moderates like Bridget Archer the better.
Alan West, Research
How is it that kicking a piece of leather round a paddock could cause so much distress? All the best to the coach and the latest chief executive to resign. As usual some human beings expecting too much of other human beings.
Anne Flanagan, Box Hill North
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