(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Today, Your Say features some of your (many) responses to Guy Rundle’s interrogation of the Coalition’s war on culture and the arts. We also heard from you on lockdown restrictions easing, and how you’ve been coping.

And Parking Australia responds to columnist Adam Schwab.

If an item in Crikey moves you, write to us at [email protected]. Include your full name to be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

On the war on the arts:

Ray O’Brien writes: We are bombarded with funding requests constantly. A national campaign for donations would be successful. Ask people to donate $10 and watch the response.

Chris McKenna writes: Whilst I am not an “arts fan” as such, I do feel we need to be represented in all aspects of the arts. I don’t think that the government is deliberately trying to end funding to this sector, but maybe trying to get this sector to fund itself, like AFL and other entertainment areas. Yes it is hard, yes it requires commitment from the supporters, users, and community, and yes it can be difficult — life is not a free ride, for anybody!

Survival is not about being supported totally by a government, it is about looking at what resources you have, and finding a way to better manage them. None of the actors, managers, producers, etc are worth the millions of dollars they get paid for doing their work. Don’t worry, I feel the same way about sports people, and the government! Some of these “unrealistic” payments should be put towards supporting their own area of the arts. Whatever the outcome, good luck. We do need our arts. 

On the end of lockdown:

Tim Stephens writes: Maybe I am just a little bit weird, but I am NOT happily looking forward to the end of restrictions. I am loving the quiet streets. I can park almost anywhere … just like it was 30 years ago. Today I can again see the shops and signs. No crowds packing every available space and tripping over each other, pushing and shoving. Cruising the quiet roads on my bike with ease and less apprehension that I am about to be squashed.

Yep, apart from the possibility of impending death and financial ruin, I’m loving it.

Mike and Katya Rubbo write: Actually, surrounded by beautiful bushland on the Central Coast, we have been going out every day for three or four hours of bushwalking. It’s become such pleasant habit, such a reawakening of our love of nature, that we plan to keep on taking long daily walks when the crisis is over.

Judy Hardy-Holden writes: As an 80 year old with some health issues I believe the bods, who are supposed to lead us, are too quick to send us out into the big, bad world. And surprisingly I even have evidence of community reticence. Six of we sweet old dears meet for lunch once a month. When asked if Tuesday was the appropriate time to meet for our first meet-up after lockdown, almost in one voice we all decided it was too soon to risk it.

We have much to lose and little to gain if the lockdown unlocks too quickly without serious planning (like what which went into that app we all applaud).  

I realise we all need our incomes and we should support the most vulnerable generously, but forcing people back to virus prone work places is verging on diabolical, without proper protocols in place.

A slow and steady recovery please, for everyone’s sake.

On ‘car park capitalism’:

Parking Australia CEO Stuart Norman writes: The notion that the removal of fringe benefits tax (FBT) on business providing their staff car parking as “corporate welfare” is absurd. FBT is a disincentive for businesses to provide or purchase car parking for their employees. Now more than ever businesses could do with some tax relief and employees need a COVID-19-safe way to get to work.

On Monday 11 May Crikey published an article by Adam Schwab which labelled the Parking Australia proposal as a bailout. At no time has the parking industry sought industry-specific assistance from the Federal Government. The views expressed in the article failed to properly understand the issues facing both employees and employers as lockdown measures are eased and we look to get back to work.

The proposal (not a demand as stated) to suspend FBT would benefit businesses and employees. It would also support businesses whether they purchase a commercial parking space from a parking provider (company or council) or provide staff with parking on their own premises.

It is beholden on businesses to provide a COVID-19-safe working environment and by extension it makes sense that businesses look to provide a COVID-19-safe method for their staff to get to and from work. No
business can afford to have an outbreak of the virus and as such providing parking is a way to limit their staff’s interactions with others and limit the chances of contracting COVID-19.

By removing the FBT disincentive, it unshackles the employer from the tax and provides them with choice. Some employers would make the decision to provide parking for their staff with the understanding that happy employees are more productive and more productive workforce helps the
country’s economic recovery.

Schwab’s article also affirms the often-held misconception that all car parking is owned by the car park operators. While this is true for car parks that are owned and run by the same organisation it is more the exception rather than the rule.

In most instances car park operators either lease or manage the car park from or for the owner. It is the owner of the facility which receives the greater share of the parking fee and rightly so as they have invested significant funds to either build or purchase the facility. I encourage anyone to first develop an understanding of how an industry is structured and managed before making public comment.

Considering all the factors mentioned in this piece, it is Parking Australia and the industry’s view that the proposal to suspend FBT on car parking is helpful, reasonable and worthy of the Federal Government’s consideration.