Cigarettes and tax:

Michael Byrne writes: Re. “Preventative health lobby inflicting serious damage on our freedom” (yesterday, item 3).  “Cigs up” is the call. And again the people at the lower end of the socio-econ mix get slugged for a bad health habit with which they obviously find some life relief.

The growth sector in smoking over the last 20 years from my observation has been young women at all levels of society. So let’s focus on the arresting the growth there.

I suggest a solution and I offer it without a $100K, or multiples thereof, consulting fee…

For every movie session or DVD sold, tax every image of smoking in popular film or TV show of people who are the heroes/love interests etc…  But the baddies and unattractive people can smoke. I saw Avatar at Liverpool. There was an anti-smoking advertisement shown in the lead to the main feature. The usual well intended production. Its effect, at great public expense, was washed away 10 minutes into the movie when a stressed Sigourney Weaver pulls a fag and lights up, spread right across the screen. Boom Boom.

I realise this may upset the “we want to be like men even unto death” brigade or the “censorship is death” crowd. But there has to be smarter ways to remove the “smart” image of smoking.


Justin Pettizini writes: Re. “It’s all your fault: killing the ETS was a team effort” (Wednesday, item 1). I see hypocrisy everywhere in relation to the comments about the Government’s abandonment of its ETS scheme. Abbot and Brown are hypocrites because they caused this, and having got what they wanted now attack Rudd for accepting the reality that they created.

The pro-ETS commentators are hypocrites because they are attacking Rudd for accepting the decision of Parliament.  If the issue had been something that they disagreed with (a Pacific solution for asylum seekers perhaps) and the PM who had put that up vowed to keep on trying to get his legislation through a Senate that had twice rejected it they would be telling him to accept the umpire’s decision and to move on.

Andrew Bolt and his ilk are hypocrites because on all the arguments that they have been putting for the past year they should be praising Rudd for doing what they want.  They are now arguing that he was wrong both to have proposed an ETS scheme to start off with and now he’s wrong for abandoning the scheme he tried to get through parliament.

Rudd vs. Abbott:

Jeff Ash writes: Re. Yesterday’s editorial. I don’t usually enjoy your daily editorial, it’s a bit lefto for me, but yesterday it was bang on the money. We have Casper the Wonk-y Ghost in one corner versus Willo the White Anglo Saxon Catholic in the other. It’s like that Ben Folds Five track “The Battle of Who Could Care Less”.

The Henry Tax Review:

Vincent Mahon writes: Reports suggest that a Henry Tax Review reform option is to increase the superannuation contributions tax rate from 15 per cent to as much as 30 per cent. Such reform will not result in savings and will increase dependence on the age pension and its benefits.

Recent research by Mercer by Bruce Brammall in the Eureka Report found that:

  1. The assertion that the tax breaks for super contributions “cost” governments more is plain wrong, The other side of the equation is the cost of providing the government age pension itself.
  2. If the concessional contributions are lifted from 9% to 12%, the cost of the age pension to governments of the future will drop sharply.

Mercer concludes that higher income earners do not gain any greater overall direct benefit, when the twin components of age pension and super tax concessions are combined.

Treasury modelling shows that almost 30% of over-65s would still be receiving a full pension in 2050 and 45% would be receiving a part-pension. This was done before the 2009 budget which capped concessional employee superannuation contributions. That decision and the mooted changes to the tax rate will increase not decrease the reliance on the age pension and associated benefits in the future.

The 2009 budget decision that capped concessional superannuation contributions pushed investors away from superannuation into unrestricted negative gearing on residential property. Unless negative gearing is capped and to date there is no suggestion of this, then any supposed savings on tax breaks for super contributions will be offset by the soaring cost of negative gearing.

The latest ATO Taxation Statistics for 2007/08 highlight the escalating cost of negative gearing to taxpayers and how this is contributing to higher house prices. Tax deductions exceeded rental income by $8.62 billion. In 2006/07 deductions exceeded rental income by $6.37 billion, in 2005/06 over $5.09 billion, in 2004/05 over $4.10 billion, and in 2003/04 over $2.78 billion.

The cost of negative gearing for those five years is almost $27 billion. From 2003/04 to 2007/08 deductions exceeding rental income has increased by 210 per cent or on average by 40 per cent annually.

Discouraging greater concessional super contributions will increase reliance on the age pension, its associated benefits and the government meeting retirees health costs. Uncapped negative gearing will increase its costs to taxpayers and increase the cost of housing and reduce supply for home owners.

Such policies are neither economically responsible or equitable. A super system that encourages self reliance not government dependence is necessary.

Melbourne Storm:

Julian Gillespie writes: Re. “NRL, News Ltd facing a nightmare of conflicts of interest” (Wednesday, item 3). I don’t understand what News Limited is up to. Its CEO Mr Hartigan has stood before countless cameras this past week or so feigning ignorance of this “one man caper” by former Storm CEO Brian Waldron, yet does nothing about calling the police in to have the man on charges like “theft by a servant” or any other such charge.

No, his former employer is strangely content to let the guy walk his walk, which of course begs the question — how much of a one man job could this have feasibly been? And how many beans could Waldron spill if News did get the cops to knock on his door?

Anyone who has worked for a large commercial outfit knows that to get anything done, even rorting a salary cap, usually takes time, consideration by more than just a few heads, and then as in this case, more than a few people in the Accounts Department to OK invoices and sign cheques… — so what am I alluding to? The very obvious likelihood that Waldron was just one cog in a much larger exercise for implementation and cover-up from the NRL.

So with the greatest respect to Mr Waldron I fail to see how he could have possibly done so much all by his lonesome self, and if I am right, then another cover-up is happening right in front of us all again.

A concerning separated at birth:

George R Perry writes: Why does it worry me so much that Brian Waldron and Troy Buswell look alike?


Climate change:

Steve O’Connor writes: The sheer amount of disinformation surrounding global warming is overwhelming, so please Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments) can you stop adding to the pile.

Any climate scientist worth his salt will tell you that temperature trends are never measured for less than 30 years, so your statement that “Leading climate scientists admit the world hasn’t warmed for 15 years” is twisting the truth.

Tamas is correct that there have been fluctuations in the past climate: even cooling trends. It is too simplistic, however, to think that this is a single-dimensional equation. There are many factors that conspire to alter the climate, including complex feedback mechanisms, cloud cover, human pollution, volcanic eruptions, ocean currents, tradewinds, sunspot activity and milankovitch cycles (to name but a few.)

In its recent ‘state of the climate’ report, CSIRO stated that the 2000-2009 decade was the warmest on record and that the long term temperature trend is clear. I’m inclined to believe them over Tamas’s slippery assertions.

Justin Templer writes: In an otherwise respectable defence of global warming deniers Tamas Calderwood unfortunately cites as support the fact that “two thirds of Americans now believe global warming is mostly natural”.

Given that around half of Americans are creationists and the vast majority (around 90%) believe that the evolution of our universe was at minimum guided by a godly force one should not rely too heavily on the average American’s views on climate change.

Or maybe one should, finding comfort in the view that, even if it is true, God will fix it.