Labor needs to talk about inflation

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When asked what it is doing about the rising cost of living, members of the Albanese government readily recite a list of its achievements, including cutting the price of medicines and childcare. A government minister’s latest idea is to freeze the price of ham in the lead-up to Christmas. These measures all seek to alleviate the effect of price rises of selected products. The government is much less willing to talk about the causes of inflation more broadly. Inflation, as measured by rises in the CPI, reflects upward pressure on the price of virtually everything consumers buy, not just a few selected items. Perhaps the reason the government is reluctant to discuss the broader causes of inflation is that it would lead to some inconvenient questions about demand and supply.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

Tax cut for high earners a road to ruin
Sean Kelly (Comment, 4/12) has perceptively picked up the mood of disillusionment among Labor voters. High on the list of causes is the party’s persistence with tax cut plans for high earners. Aimed at getting a second term of government, it is likely to guarantee just a single term.
Tony Haydon, Springvale

Government has to lead by example
Sean Kelly’s view is that “the government’s political management needs work”. Decisive actions are also missing. Kelly writes about the hard choices piling up and that the government thinks its changes are “proportionate to the problems facing Australia”. If the latter is true, it’s disturbing. There is so much evidence climate change is wreaking havoc, yet the PM does not attend COP28 and his deputy, Chris Bowen, arrives a week late.
Jan Marshall, Brighton

Keep going like this and there will be consequences

I’m increasingly convinced that the Albanese government will neither cancel stage 3 tax cuts nor leave them unchanged. I’m confident it will modify and/or postpone them. No government can afford to alienate its base and if it continues to back these tax cuts, the Albanese government will be punished electorally and it will take years for the ALP to regain the trust of its traditional supporters. A government, especially a moderate socialist one, couldn’t convincingly claim that it believes in a fair go for all, compassion or social cohesion if it supports these expensive tax cuts that predominantly go to the comfortable and wealthy while more battlers sink deeper into poverty and homelessness. The Albanese government has powerful ammunition to present a persuasive narrative that circumstances have changed drastically since it agreed to these tax cuts.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Consider a mini-economic summit
David Crowe (Comment, 1/12) clearly articulates the dilemma faced by the government in relation to retention of the stage 3 tax cuts, legislated with Labor support in 2019 under economic conditions vastly different to those of today. Economists have warned that stage 3 tax cuts will add to inflation, forcing the Reserve Bank to lift interest rates further next year, and the government should either scrap or drastically change the tax plan. Meanwhile, columnist Shaun Carney (30/11) questions “whether Albanese, after having everything his way as leader, will have the humility to admit that he’s in trouble and must change”. Perhaps a focused, mini-economic summit, comprising key stakeholders from business, unions, welfare agencies and economic experts, might provide the government with broad-based support and legitimacy to break an election promise and make a strategic change to the stage 3 tax cuts.
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North


NDIS lifeboats
The NDIS was a significant positive social improvement initiative. Its advent, however, has seen phenomenal growth and a clearly unsustainable trajectory for funding. The reasons behind this, particularly for young children, is that previous services, provided by the states and limited Commonwealth funding, were manifestly inadequate.
The hugely increased rate of diagnosis of autism is also driven by the previous inadequacy of our systems of early intervention and developmental interventions. Previously children languished on long waitlists for public services to gain an assessment and possibly a scant service or their parents paid for expensive private paediatric medical and allied health services. With the advent of the NDIS, inevitably health professionals would be willing to provide a diagnosis that gained access to previously unavailable help. It truly has become the “only lifeboat in the ocean” – as there were never enough lifeboats to begin with.
There is a particular impetus to do this for young children because we know that the earlier the intervention, the greater the benefit derived for the child’s ultimate developmental outcomes. The states now decry and lament the Commonwealth for potentially forcing them to provide services. If we truly wish to intervene early and prevent lifelong impairment and challenge, and prevent lifelong participation in the NDIS, the states need to create a flotilla of early intervention lifeboats.
Bernadette O’Connor,
Moonee Ponds

Mrs the point
I had to fill out a form recently asking if I was Mr, Mrs or Ms. Then on the same form I was asked if I was male, female or non-binary.
I’m all for transgender identification, but I believe our forms are way behind as far as asking a woman if they are Mrs or Ms. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business if I am married or not. It’s obviously very old-fashioned.
Whoever is in charge of the printing of such forms, please take out Mrs.
Mary Waterman, Arthurs Seat

A shining vision
I loved working at 500 Bourke Street in the 1980s, and I love the vision of its salvage (“Green refurb a towering achievement”, 4/12). That kind of thinking is exactly what is needed in the housing sector, too. I live in an area where our older houses (with trees and garden) are being regularly bulldozed, and replaced by enormous boxes, removing everything and going down metres for carparks.
Modernising well-built old homes is demonstrated here too, so it can be done and has many advantages to the community. When the choice to demolish is easier than negotiating changes, it ends up strangling the capacity to think about options. Demonstrations like 500 Bourke Street’s show what can be achieved and the many gains to be made. It gives hope that we can develop that way of thinking about our houses too.
Carolyn Ingvarson, Canterbury

Answers on toast
In answer to your correspondent (Letters, 4/12), the reason why many people – often politicians – answer a question by saying, “It’s a great question” is because they are struggling for time to come up with a (generally obscurantist) answer. They know that they are on toast – and they are trying to avoid the heat.
Peter Drum, Coburg

Lead, they will follow
To improve students’ behaviour, they need to see good behaviour from the prime minister and Senate, from influencers (who seem to have no known code of conduct), from teachers and from parents.
People lead by example: be the people you want our youth to become.
Corinne Haber, Caulfield North

Winning combo
So good to see an all-female team for expert commentary for the WBBL finals series and to see both onfield umpires being female. It makes for a completely different atmosphere in the commentary box. My mute button didn’t need to be used at all.
Pamela Parnell, Footscray

ATO shock debt
I recently heard about people being alarmed to receive tax debt letters from the ATO. I, too, received a letter from the ATO saying that I had an outstanding tax debt; no information as to why or when I supposedly incurred this debt.
As a pensioner who has been retired for a number of years I was sure that this was a clever scam as during my working years my accountant completed my tax return every year and I always paid any amount owing.
However, on checking I was able to determine that it really was from the ATO. Since the amount was less than $500 I paid the unspecified debt to avoid any further interest and charges being added to this debt I knew nothing about. I can only say that it was a shock to receive this letter, but in the aftermath of robodebt I felt powerless to do anything but pay up as I don’t have the resources or ability to challenge it.
Brian Glass, Montrose

Hospital pass at Eltham
Now I have heard it all (″⁣They were promised a new hospital but locals prefer derelict farmhouse″⁣, 4/12): rejecting a community hospital in Eltham because of possible drop in property values. Some communities need to get a grip.
Diana Duimovch, Canterbury

Say no to ham
The current parliamentary inquiry into pig welfare in Victoria is a result of concern, from multiple groups, about the way pigs are slaughtered in Australia. This Christmas is a good chance to say no to ham until more humane stunning methods are employed.
Annie Cranby, Fyansford

Not forgetting Wylie
The Age report of December 4, 1901 (An Age Ago, 4/12) states that Edward Eyre completed his 1841 journey to Fremantle alone, but I am sure my school history books of long ago (1940s) mentioned that he was accompanied by Indigenous man Wylie, who deserves recognition. Two other Aboriginal members of the party had killed companion John Baxter, a white man, and left with most of the supplies.
Wylie and Eyre continued on and encountered French whaling ship Mississippi, commanded by Englishman Captain Rossiter. Eyre called the place Rossiter Bay, near present day Esperance.
John Mathew, East Hawthorn

The climate maths
Severe climate change may be nature’s way of dealing with our unsustainable population explosion (Letters, 4/12). How apt. Because our growing population is one of the drivers of the climate crisis.
The evidence for this lies in mathematics, my former discipline, in the long-established equation, I = PAT. It describes ″⁣I″⁣ (an environmental impact like CO2 emissions), as the product of three factors, ″⁣P″⁣ (our population), ″⁣A″⁣ (affluence like our per-capita use of energy), and ″⁣T″⁣ (technology like CO2 per unit of energy)
However, all of our focus is about decarbonising our energy industry, the ″⁣T″⁣ factor. But, as the equation shows, any improvement there is readily negated by increases in the other factors. Unless we simultaneously stop growing our population and our energy usage, emissions reduction is impossible. It is simple mathematics.
Ian Penrose, Kew

PM’s fading impression
Sean Kelly’s likening the conduct of the Albanese government as an experiment (Comment, 4/12 ) will concur with many voters’ perception of the prime minister’s lacklustre campaigning for the Voice referendum. It made no sense that as the national leader, seeking a likely constructive and significant change to the Constitution and bettering the lives of First Nations people, that he stood on the sidelines.
If it was an experiment in a political osmosis where voters could draw a poignant meaning from the PM’s minimal comments, it failed and left him being seen as unimpressive.
The prospect of that view of him changing aren’t high.
Des Files,

The Gaza fallout
What exactly is the long-term outcome of the Israel-Hamas war? Will the attack on Gaza lead to the young becoming embittered about Israel? Will that increase the risks to all people in the area of Palestine-Israel over the years to come?
Bruce Dudon, Woodend

Too little, too late
The Age reports how China has been busy building infrastructure in the Solomon Islands (″⁣Islanders query the wisdom of Solomons’ debt to China″⁣, 4/12). Australia might have cause to complain but for the fact that for decades we did very little for our island neighbours. There’s not much point wringing our hands now.
David Fry, Moonee Ponds

No to Warner send-off
While acknowledging the batting talents of David Warner, I agree with Mitchell Johnson’s comments (″⁣Johnson lashes Warner″⁣, 4/12).
Following his involvement in the ball-tampering incident in South Africa, Warner forfeited the honour of ever representing Australia again in any form of cricket. He could have continued earning a living by playing cricket at state level, for a county team in England or for an Indian IPL team – but not for Australia.
I also agree that nobody has the right to organise his own retirement send-off. Any such honour is a privilege, not a right.
Tony Wheeler, Templestowe Lower

Colour blind
I noticed the Nazi protesters at the Ballarat rally, (If you can call it a rally, we have more people in our book club) were dressed from head to foot in black carrying a banner that read, “Australia for the white man.“
Ron Mather, Melbourne


The two biggest supermarkets have recorded multibillion-dollar profits and yet households struggle to put food on the table. I know that profit is essential, but what profit is enough?
Gerry Lonergan, Reservoir

Take a quick look at a map, and China’s Pacific strategy looms large as a hop, step and jump. Solomon Islands. Vanuatu. New Caledonia. A next step would be giant leap.
John Rawson, Mernda

Stage 3 tax cuts should be replaced by an increase in the tax-free threshold (presently $18,200). The increase to be calculated to cost the same amount as the stage 3 tax cuts. Spread the joy more fairly.
Judy Kevill, Ringwood

Since Commonwealth legislation prevents people consulting with others on voluntary assisted dying using a carriage service, it must be time to change the legislation so that it doesn’t.
Michael Astengo, Dingley Village

Sorry Peter Dutton, but if you and the Coalition continually vote against legislation, you own that negativity and can reasonably be accused of the consequences.
Ross Hosking, Blackwood, SA

In re to the article ″⁣It’s more than just a few bad shakes″⁣ (4/12), as a carer of my father who has Parkinson’s, I have learnt patience, endurance and new jokes to brighten the atmosphere.
Ian Cameron, Chelsea

Perhaps the designer of this year’s CBD Christmas decorations is feeling people don’t want excitement this Christmas and would prefer the more subdued colour of pink. (Letters, 4/12)
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East

If you believe wind farms kill whales then you probably think the Earth is flat.
Michael Brinkman, Ventnor

Another bridge sign (Letters 4/12) in Kerala, South India: ″⁣Roadrollers and elephants forbidden to use this bridge.″⁣
Dennis Severin, Caulfield

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