On the Melbourne Cup

John Hewett writes: Re. “Condemning the Cup is a moral atrocity” (yesterday). I am generally an admirer of Rundle’s analysis of events, and in particular his nuance and eloquent use of words. However, on this occasion it seems to have been stretched a bit too far, perhaps in an attempt to “dress up” a pretty unattractive point of view. After wading through the verbiage, a couple of crucial phrases sprang out, with the first being:

“Personally I don’t think horse racing is cruel. Horses run in packs spontaneously, they have no reflective self-consciousness or knowledge of death, so the pain of whipping is purely physiological.”

You have got to be kidding me. Is he really making the argument that physical pain is immaterial if the subject doesn’t see it coming or isn’t in a position to ruminate upon it later? Subsequently in the article, after acknowledging that there is cruelty involved he asserts that

“Its importance and pleasure as a cultural activity far outweighs that demerit”.

Really, does that mean that any form of cruelty is fine, provided that it gives a sufficient number of people pleasure? Why don’t we bring back gladiatorial sport then, just like the Romans?

More ideas on GST reform

John Richardson writes: Re. “On GST reform” (yesterday). While I totally agree with Roy Ramage regarding the relative merits of a financial transactions tax (FTT) over a significantly expanded & enlarged GST, I’m not so sure about the rate of 0.21% he proposes, in particular as he doesn’t cite any revenue estimates that would flow from its application.

Professor Ross Buckley, University of NSW, has done work in this area and in 2011 suggested that a 0.05% FTT imposed on “over-the-counter” and “exchange traded market transactions” in the three year period 2005/2006-2008/2009 would have raised $48 billion, which would suggest that Roy’s suggested rate may have generated around $65 billion a year in the same period; around the same amount of additional revenue that an increased/enlarged GST regime would be expected to generate in 2017/2018. At the same time, similar proposals for the introduction of a FTT in the EU argued that some specific transactions should be excluded to minimise any negative social/economic impact. These included:

  • Day-to-day financial activities of citizens & businesses (eg: loans, payments, insurance, deposits etc.)
  • Investment banking activities in the context of raising capital
  • Transactions carried out as part of restructuring operations
  • Certain refinancing transactions with central banks and the ECB (European Central Bank)

Of course, while Malcolm Turnbull seeks to reassure a nervous populace with assurances that “all options are on the table” when it comes to proposed tax reform, the usual suspects are already out & about touting the miraculous benefits that would once again flow from hitting the disadvantaged with an increased GST, while continuing to protect the privileges of the big end of town.

On climate sceptics

Roger Richards writes: Re. “Meet the govt climate sceptics who have Turnbull by the short’n’curlies” (Wednesday). What are the total scientific credentials in climate change of politicians Dennis Jensen, Ian Macdonald, Chris Back, Cory Bernardi, Barnaby Joyce, Andrew Laming, George Christensen or any politician in our major parties? Have they studied at any recognised university? Have they written or co-authored any peer reviewed papers on the topic? Have they read any peer reviewed papers on the topic? Have they witnessed the effects in the Arctic or Antarctic? Have they visited our nearby Pacific Island nations to discuss the issue? Have they monitored migratory shorebird declines? Have they witnessed woodland bird declines? Have they concerns for Australian alpine pygmy possums?

Have they concerns that the increasing intensity and frequency of major droughts, bushfires, floods, sea level rise, ocean acidification might affect their hip pocket? Do they on the other hand have any connection to fossil fuel companies or the industry? Do they bank at banks that do? Do they read the Murdoch press? Do they really give a shit about the rest of us or the other species on this planet? How of them are women? What do they think about the new Canadian Government with 50% women and a changed attitude on climate change ?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey