Another look as super tax concessions

Gavin Greenoak writes: Re: “Labor leaves Coalition isolated on super tax handouts” yesterday. Are we not in need of some clarification of what we mean by “rich” and “poor” lest we assume on the miasmas of ghosts that all the rich are either lucky and/or wicked while all the pauvre poor are the downtrodden and exploited? While robbing Peter to pay Paul can be assured of Paul’s unhesitatingly righteous support, there are countless Pauls who earned their way to Peter by hard work and sacrifices, with some just expectation that they might reap what they sow.  The challenge of such a necessary clarification might best be met with a political leadership, by example.

The lotto no one wanted to win

Don Wormald writes: Re. “Accidental soldiers: did an errant marble send the wrong troops to Vietnam?” (yesterday). Your piece reminds me of another Vietnam-era story. I turned 18 in 1972 and was able to vote as Prime Minister Billy McMahon had just lowered the voting age from 21. For years I nursed a suspicion: it was illogical for a PM to lower the voting age for 18 year-olds who would potentially face the national service ballot at age 20 to be conscripted to fight in an unpopular war.  There had to be more to this decision than met the eye.  Billy lowered the voting age before he announced the pull out, if I recall correctly. Whitlam won the election and I reckon just about every 18-20 year-old male (and his girlfriend) gave him their vote.

My uncle, Graeme McDonald, was Billy’s PR man before and throughout Bill’s prime ministership. About a year before he died a decade or so ago I asked my uncle why Billy had given us 18 year-olds the vote and voiced my suspicions.  My uncle told me I was right.  Billy knew he was on the way out but to make absolutely sure the hawks on the right of his party didn’t get a look in Billy gave us youngsters the vote knowing full well we’d vote against him.  My uncle told me Billy was having trouble living with his conscience for sending youg men to fight and die in a silly war and wanted to ensure a loss.

Billy McMahon might have been a dreadful PM but he was actually quite a nice bloke who overcame a serious impediment: he was profoundly deaf as a child which is why he spoke oddly. My dad was an old school friend of Bill’s.  I was with my dad who was an exhibitor at the back of the room at an American Trade Exhibition in Pitt Street, Sydney in 1971.  Billy and Sonia came trotting in to open the exhibition when he spotted my dad and raced past the receiving line, grabbed my dad (and me) and brought us back to the line where he proceeded to introduce us to the American ambassador and assembled dignitaries!

More Anzac facts swept under the rug

Ben Hills: Re. “Sam Neill’s Anzac is a treat” (yesterday). I agree with Glenn Dyer’s comments on Gallipoli shows yesterday, but see if you can remember a single black face in any of the docos or dramas that have been aired. No? Well consider this: by nationality the greatest toll of dead and wounded in that terrible, futile battle were not Australian, British, French or Turkish. They were Senegalese. Most of the “French” forces which fought at Gallipoli were in fact slave conscripts from their colonies in Africa, whom they called “tirailleurs” and used as cannon fodder.