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Australia

Retirement: It's about a comfortable life, after work is over

Robert Wilson, Jan Juc

Think about the infrastructure

As a self-funded retiree who receives "cash-back" from the government every July, I support Bill Shorten's initiative to stop paying retirees money that they didn't earn. In effect, the critics are saying, "I earned an amount from shares, and I want the government to pay me 42 per cent more" out of the goodness of their hearts. Think what infrastructure the $30 billion forgone and the projected $50 billion saving could build.

Most of the people who receive cash back will have low taxable incomes because they are receiving tax-free super payments. They are not low-income earners, it's just that they do not have to declare or pay tax on super payments. They are probably doing quite well.

So maybe Mr Shorten could limit the cash back to $10,000. To receive this amount, at an average dividend rate from shares of 5 per cent, one would have to own about $500,000 in shares. If you have saved that much in your lifetime, you probably also have other assets, and don't need the refund.

John Pinniger, Fairfield

It's just a cowardly tax grab

Labor's promise to stop the cash refund of the franked dividend is effectively a 30 per cent pension cut on self-funded retirees. It's also a cowardly tax grab from people who've worked all their lives so as not to be dependent on the state. If he was so keen to haul back tax dollars, there's plenty of tax avoiders and minimisers he could go after.

John Mosig, Kew

Fifty years of work, and this happens

After working 50 years and finally owning a small parcel of bank shares that provides less than two additional pension payments a year in dividends, Labor proposes to subtract that payment from our yearly income, while the huge stream of franked payments continues to pour into foreign investors' pockets.

Gordon Watson, Clematis

There's a basic cake, and there's the cream on top

My wife and I were pleased when advised that when we turn 60 we would not pay any tax on earnings nor income from our super. We were also advised to keep some money aside to buy shares so as to benefit from the dividends themselves and from franking credit refunds. We think this is a generous and unnecessary benefit, but it is legal, so we will do it.

We understand that for some people the franking credit refund component is important to help them build a decent retirement income. For others, like us though, it represents extra cream on the cake.

Surely there is some way the tax system can discriminate between those who need franking credits to make a basic cake, from those who use them to put more cream on it?

Andrew Barrington, Kew

Big difference

Bill and Chris, what a clever way of losing 600,000 votes. You say you are targeting the top end of town. I can give you an example that hits home directly. My father is 86-years-old, retired at 70 after a long productive working life, which included ship repairing, winemaking and cattle farming. He was a prudent man who basically invested in shares his whole life. After paying for his wife (my mother) to be looked after in a dementia unit he has a modest portfolio left which he lives off. The refund he receives from his tax credits is only a few thousand dollars but it makes a huge difference to his lifestyle. This is an example of your top end of town.

Doug Groom, Wangaratta

Someone has to pay

I am a pensioner who would be affected by the proposal to end cash refunds of franking credits. I would sooner lose my refund than see services to both an ageing population and my descendants curtailed because of lack of funds. Political appeals to self-interest do not negate the fact that services must be paid for or cancelled.

Denis Croke, Glen Iris

Credit where due

The LNP government has been in power for almost five years. It has dodged any meaningful tax reform during this time despite repeated calls for reform by industry and independent economists. It proudly repealed the Labor government's carbon tax (an impost on polluters) and mining tax (an impost on highly profitable resource companies). Its current focus is reducing corporate tax. It has resisted the Labor opposition's announced policies on capital gains, negative gearing, trusts and now franking credits.

The initial intention when established by the Keating government was simply to ensure that dividends were not effectively taxed twice – in the company and then shareholders' hands. Eminently fair and reasonable.

The Howard government went further by actually returning company tax to shareowners, if their marginal tax rate was less than the corporate tax rate. If this generous benefit is repealed by Labor, then those on low tax rates – some individuals but primarily super/pension funds – will be impacted. The Treasurer has immediately branded this change as stealing. The government's push to reduce corporate tax rates will change marginal rates and therefore also reduce these refunds. Will he also label his policy as stealing?

Labor deserves credit for its serious tax reform proposals.

Peter Thomson, Brunswick

Strange interest

So in the interests of equity we should expect that anyone having say $2000 worth of work-related expenses, but an income below the tax-free threshold, to have a cheque in the mail from the ATO as a refund for that amount.

Stephen McNamara, Newtown

Climate plea

If we were on track to meet the Paris agreement there would need to be no more carbon dioxide produced and that presently in the atmosphere would need to be reduced and, at present, we have no technology to do so.

Obviously major companies need to have mandatory laws on climate risk disclosure, not the wishy-washy NEG ("Climate risks still unknown", The Age, 14/3).

Beverley McIntyre, Camberwell

Bigger picture

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Trinity saga is its undue emphasis on the haircut, which is really only an excuse for the much wider consideration of school discipline and authority.

Your correspondents who claim to be bored or alienated by this discussion are also missing the point. It's not really a public v private school issue at all, or even a question of academic standards competing with other priorities: it raises a much more fundamental dilemma of the appropriate balance of rights and responsibilities present in every community. This is a necessary debate that's relevant to society as a whole, and it deserves better than the trivialised dismissal by some commentators.

Let's hope the "independent review" enables Trinity to focus on the bigger picture too.

Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale

Enough, please

I agree with P. Bodsworth and J.King (Letters, 14/3) regarding the Trinity saga – enough already! Who cares about these "chaps" and their silly, petty squabbles? The focus should be on good quality public education. How much of our taxes go to support the outdated and archaic practices on show at Trinity?

Denise Stevens, Healesville

Hair-brained

In the 1950s, I was sent to a Melbourne private school of the Trinity Grammar type. During my time there, a new principal was appointed. This man was obsessed with hair, caps and socks. Boys were sent home or punished for minor breaches of rigid dress regulations.

Such headmasterly obsessions were absurd 60 years ago: that similar dress regulations are still being enforced at Trinity by someone as senior as the deputy principal is simply bizarre. Was his desk empty of anything that mattered?

I find it strange that highly educated people such as senior teachers should be bothered by something as trivial as hair. I am a highly educated retired teacher, and my simple advice to my younger successors is that hair does not matter. Why can some of them not see this?

Andrew Bear, Millswood, South Australia

Health snag

The article "Sausages lose their sizzle as salt is added up" (The Age, 14/3) focused on the high salt content of sausages, but it is only one of the serious problems.

An April 2016 study by researchers from the University of Oxford estimated that if the global population were to adopt a vegetarian diet, 7.3 million lives per year would be saved by 2050. Ifa vegan diet were adopted, the figure would be 8.1 million.

More than half the avoided deaths would result from reduced red meat consumption, including pig meat. The results primarily reflect anticipated reductions in the rate of coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Healthy options are readily available.

Paul Mahony, Black Rock

Radio static

The latest radio survey results are in and surprise, surprise, ABC breakfast listenership has plummeted. The experiment in student radio has clearly failed. Predictably, an ABC spokesperson trots out the "it's to be expected" line. You wouldn't expect them to admit to a mistake. Clearly the geniuses who came up with the repellent new format would rather save face than save listeners.

Monty Arnhold, Port Melbourne

Take a hike

So ABC Melbourne breakfast has lost nearly one in five of its listeners since their sacking of Red Symons. No surprises there. In their quest for a younger audience, they have replaced someone of mature intelligence with an imitation of all the FM breakfast shows but of course with a politically correct slant. Who did they think would tune in? The kids, by and large, don't even know AM/digital radio even exists. The people responsible for this dreadful blunder should also be getting the boot.

Ralph Judd, Blackburn North

Ahead of his time

What delicious irony. The communist PM of Vietnam seeks support from Australia to combat communist China's activities in the South China Sea ("Vietnam urges stronger ties", The Age, 14/3). Half a century ago PM Robert Menzies sent troops to fight the predecessor of the current Vietnam government, saying it "must be seen as the downward thrust of communist China between the Pacific and Indian oceans". Many of us criticised Menzies in the 1960s, but maybe he was just 50 years before his time, and focused on the wrong enemy.

Bob Muntz, Ascot Vale

Woeful history

In response to Clementine Ford's question about why the Australian government would want to return the Tamil family residing and contributing to their small town in Queensland to Sri Lanka, (Comment, 14/3), the sad answer is that our immigration authorities have a woeful history of ignoring the fraught nuances of life in authoritarian, war-torn societies.

The husband, Nadeslingam, is said to have had links in the civil war period to the LTTE or "Tamil Tigers", not surprising given that he was from the beleaguered Tamil stronghold in the north of Sri Lanka.

For a few years now, Australian governments have, both in foreign policy and border control dealings with Sri Lanka, effectively partnered with the Sinhalese majority governments to view Tamils as uniformly subversive actors in that nation. Last year, Amnesty International reported that, notwithstanding the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, Tamils have continued to be persecuted.

The fate of the Tamil family now detained in Melbourne, were they to be returned, would undoubtedly be precarious.

Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Wrong targets

Many recent letters in The Age have blamed Australia's increasing population for current and foreseen environmental problems.

These correspondents are barking up the wrong tree.

Australian society currently relies on many environmentally unsustainable practices. At best, limiting the population postpones the date at which an impasse will be reached. At worst, it acts as a distraction from addressing unsustainable practices like those of a handful of wealthy irrigators in the Murray-Darling Basin, while deflecting blame to recent immigrants from non-white countries.

Let us concentrate on eliminating unsustainable practices from our economy and society before we start calculating a "carrying capacity" for Australia. If we don't, our carrying capacity is likely to be zero.

Greg Platt, Brunswick

Banking

The royal commission should lead to significant changes in banking practices. Rip-offs will have to be buried far deeper.

Bill Trestrail, St Kilda

NAB, Not Averse to Bribery.

Jon O'Neill, Waurn Ponds

NAB white envelopes? What happened to brown paper bags?

Malcolm Cameron, Camberwell

The TV ads tell us where the banks' profits go, which we don't want to know. We do want to know the means by which they make their profits.

Geoff Schmidt, Fitzroy North

Trinity

Trinity should implement a three cuts and you're out policy.

Adrian Tabor, Point Lonsdale

Would it be more appropriate now to call Trinity dysfunctional rather than elite?

Glenn Sutherland, Campbells Creek

This year's school musical. The Barber of Seville, Hair or maybe just a barbershop quartet?

Tony Lenten, Glen Waverley

ABC

They've turned me off so I've turned them off.

Myra Fisher, Brighton East

I'm sure Sami and Jacinta are delightful people, but as to presenting a breakfast show, they don't quite make the grade.

Bette Collings, Highton

Furthermore

If ignorance is delightful bliss (Letters, 14/3), then why aren't there more people happy?

Paul Sutcliffe, Fern Bay, NSW

Mathias Cormann claims that the new Labor tax proposal is both class war and will mainly affect the poor – anyone spot a contradiction here?

Ian Robinson, Cowes

Excess franking credits – currently an ATO cash splash without a means test.

Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Rex Tillerson was never a good fit. He's obviously not insane and he's not obviously crooked.

Andrew Raivars, Fitzroy North

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au . Please include your home address and telephone number.

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