Far out, Rundle

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Rundle: defence of refugees begins at Gillian Triggs” (yesterday). Does Guy Rundle want to be the Allen Ginsberg of Australian political commentary? His articles seem to flow from a stream of altered consciousness and today’s one about Gillian Triggs of the Australian Human Rights Commission is a case in point. Did the Spartacist League ever have the slogan: “Defence of the Soviet Union begins at Diego Garcia”? I doubt it, but why does Rundle assume knowledge of an American Trotskyist ginger group? Certainly, Diego Garcia is not a “A-bomb raddled island group with a major Indian Ocean US base”. It is an island in the Chagos group that has an US base, but it has suffered no atomic bomb tests. Perhaps the slogan really said, “Defence of the Soviet Union begins with the Bikinis”?! What this has got to do with children in detention has me baffled. But perhaps I need to liberate my mind.

Lifestyles of the rich … and everyone else

Tamas Calderwood writes: Re. “The 20% solution: a first step in fixing super tax concession” (yesterday).  Your anonymous correspondent argues for an increase in the superannuation tax rate to 20%, yet fails to mention that anyone contributing more than $30,000 per annum (implying an income of around $315,000) pays the full marginal rate on “excess” contributions anyway.  Thus, the super tax concession doesn’t really benefit the super-rich, just those that earn between $18,000 – $315,000 p.a, which is pretty much everyone. Yes, higher earners gain a bigger tax break but still pay very high taxes on the remaining 90% of their income.  Think of it as a small reduction on their top marginal rate with the quid-pro-quo being forced savings until we hit 60 — an age that around 8% of us will never reach to enjoy our hard earned money anyway.

The concessional tax rates were designed to encourage widespread support for the super system and to alleviate the burden on our age pension via forced savings.  Thus, if you up the tax rates to fund current spending, logic follows that support for the Super system falls and lower savings will put a higher burden on the pension system in the future.  So instead of looking for every possible way to increase taxes, can’t we reduce government spending instead?

Bali ban? Not quite

Mark Slater writes: Re. “Customs warning on Bali” (yesterday). As a subscriber to Crikey I was intrigued to read in today’s Tips and Rumours column the following entry on a possible change to Customs on Bali. Not sure where any of this comes from as the Smartraveller website is run by DFAT, not Customs. Regarding the death penalty: the fourth paragraph under the laws tab reads:

“Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty. Penalties for possession of even small amounts of recreational drugs include heavy fines and imprisonment. Police target illegal drug use and possession across Indonesia, in particular popular places and venues in Bali and Jakarta.”

Having worked in the tourism industry for over two decades I find this sort of misinformation irresponsible if not dangerous. The vast majority of people travelling overseas obey the law and have a great time visiting new destinations and experiencing different cultures. To ensure they do not get themselves into difficulties the Smartraveller website provides relevant and timely (if a little wordy) information on the countries Australian’s are likely to visit.

Please have someone check the content of your news items, even if the fault occurred with the person calling the radio station, and lets all work towards reducing the risk to Aussie travellers.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey