Executive Director of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim AM writes: Re. “Why Jake Lynch was waving money around at an anti-Israel protest” (March 25). Nick Riemer’s apologia for the conduct of his colleague, Jake Lynch, during the disruption by protesters of a lecture by Colonel Richard Kemp at the University of Sydney on March 11  only digs Lynch into a deeper hole.

Riemer begins by accusing Lynch’s critics of attempting to silence him by a variety of devious means, including the legal action brought against Lynch under the Racial Discrimination Act which was ultimately withdrawn.  Indeed, Lynch himself characterised the case as “an attempt to stifle debate”.   Yet now Lynch, and Riemer, defend the actions of the protesters that were intended not merely to stifle debate, but to shut it down altogether.

Riemer seeks to justify Lynch’s conduct in waving a banknote or banknotes in the face of an elderly woman as self-defence against her “series of physical attacks” — throwing water at him and kicking in his direction, but without connecting. We have not heard the woman’s side of the story. Regardless of the view one might take of the conduct of the elderly woman, it is appalling that an academic of Lynch’s seniority should have stooped to such an unedifying gesture.

Greens and the seat of Sydney

Bruce Graham writes: “‘I’ve been lied to’: Greens see red over party’s PDA for Sydney independent” (yesterday).
The mistake for the greens in the electorate of Sydney, was to pre-select anybody.  A strong independant  candidate together with optional preferential voting  meant that the Greens candidate could never win, but might drive a Labor victory by syphoning votes. Given that the present member is so clearly a fellow traveler, it highlights that the greens are likely to persue party hegemony and power in a manner no different to their larger rivals.

On tax reform

Jason King writes: Re. “It’s time to close this company tax loophole” (yesterday).  You guys have it totally wrong on the imputation system. It is the key anti-avoidance tool that the government (and the ATO) has to encourage Australian companies to pay tax here rather than offshore.  If you get rid of it, companies have no incentive to pay dividends. In fact, shareholders will demand that they don’t and instead rely on selling their holdings — possibly benefiting from the CGT discount — on market in order to generate cash flow.  This is what happens in the US (see Google or Berkshire Hathaway for instance). It also means Australian owned and resident companies have an incentive to invest in Australia (meaning more jobs for Australians) rather than offshore where their tax paid does not generate franking credits and so is effectively double taxed in Australian shareholders’ hands.

That’s not to say some tinkering couldn’t be looked at: for instance, a rollback on the extremely generous Howard government change to allow full refund of franking offsets to entities that don’t actually pay tax, would be reasonable.  But the imputation system is generally serving Australia very well so hands off.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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