Not all Tories

David Edmunds writes: Re. “The rise and rise of Malcolm Abbott and the sex-obsessed right” (yesterday). I believe that there is more to the “sex obsessed” than being white middle-aged heterosexual males, part of the conservative rump. Traditionally Tories have been quite relaxed about sexual behaviour, a view that has descended from their British forebears. Even those from the other classes who are contemptuous of non-traditional heterosexual behaviours do not really care that much, particularly as their own families have increasingly recognised and accepted members who do not adhere to this norm.

Some of the language used by those who object to, for example, gay marriage, suggest a much deeper discomfort. For example, they talk about a “threat to marriage”. Exactly how the possession of a marriage certificate by a couple of blokes down the road could constitute a threat is a puzzle to most of us, but clearly this reflects a deeper uncertainty. How bestiality figures in their thinking is also a concern. It does appear that moral campaigners seem to be represented disproportionately amongst those found in deeply compromising situations in complete opposition to the political stance they have taken.

While the sex obsessed do seem to come disproportionately from the right, the driver for the obsession is not entirely connected with a wider conservative world-view, but perhaps has something to do with an internal identity turmoil.

How to make the housing market fairer

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Them gains” (yesterday). Contrary to Jackie French’s, assertion a home that is partly or fully paid for is an asset by definition. Just ask any federal government department that administers welfare payments. Applying Capital Gains Tax on owner occupied homes need not be as scary as she imagines if purchasers had access to the same tax breaks  as investors/speculators enjoy.
In similar jurisdictions to ours, owner occupiers are able to claim at least a proportion of interest costs against personal incomes which is balanced by a tax on capital gains adjusted for inflation. Current arrangements have encouraged speculation in the housing market that has seen the cost of housing escalate to levels that made a visiting cousin, a doctor in Ontario Canada, shake his head in astonishment.

Giving owner occupiers at least the option to use the strategies available to “investors” will level the playing field and has the potential to moderate housing inflation, increase the level of home ownership and encourage a more productive use of investment capacity. Housing is a basic human need and allowing it to be used like a casino chip is not only immoral it is short sighted public policy.

Damien Hurrell writes: Jackie French is right: a safe place to live is a human right that we should all uphold. And the tax payable on windfall profits like the one Brett Blundy stands to make could provide that right to thousands of homeless and disadvantaged people. The trick is to work out which people are hiding an investment by designating it as their principle place of residence, and which are not. Surely that’s not too hard a task for our agile and innovative government?

Peter Fray

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