‘Best economic manager’ honour is beyond doubt

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Credit: Illustration: Andrew Dyson

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Federal budget: ‘Best economic manager’ honour is beyond doubt

It is incredible that the Coalition response to the federal budget (“Labor tries to seize the Liberals’ holy grail”, 10/5) is to aver that they are still better money managers than Labor. Unbelievably, many still fail to question this assertion.

It is a historical fact that Gough Whitlam inherited a recession from Billy McMahon and weathered the 1973 OPEC oil shock, giving Malcolm Fraser an economy in much better shape than when he found it. Then Fraser, with John Howard as treasurer, could not manage the successive oil shocks and handed Bob Hawke and Paul Keating a struggling economy. If nothing was done, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew said we were in danger of becoming the “white trash of Asia”. The era of Hawke and Keating is acknowledged as “the golden age” of the Australian economy with Keating being named as the “world’s best treasurer” by Euromoney.

Howard and his treasurer, Peter Costello, then frittered away the “golden boom” in wars, unnecessary tax cuts and give-aways. It was Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, with treasurer Wayne Swan, who once more triumphed over the 2008/9 GFC with Swan gaining the same Euromoney accolade as Keating.

With a recovering economy, what did Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison then achieve? They could not put together a proper budget, never mind any coherent economic policies to tackle the problems facing us. They are still arguing among themselves.
Derek R. Costello, Belmont

Labor reveals its true colours
It’s easy to glance at coverage of this budget and believe that the big spend was for childcare, pharmaceuticals, and other benefits for the less well off. In fact, wealthier Australians get $200 billion that could have gone to the poor because the stage three tax cuts worth $200billion over 10 years have been left intact.

Labor is a rich-supporting wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Melanie Lazarow, Brunswick

Courage lacking
Treasurer Jim Chalmers claims that the budget is primarily focused on those most in need (“Granting relief to the most vulnerable is a fine balance”, 10/5). The budget provides $14.6 billion in a so-called cost-of-living package to those living in poverty. Meanwhile the government continues to go along with the Liberal government-initiated tax cuts to provide $69 billion for the comfortable and affluent. Labor is most in need of a whole new set of ideas, better priorities and courage.
Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, SA

Turning our back on a cash cow
Ross Gittins is rightly to be congratulated for 50 years of fine economics reporting and remains the best “man to go to” when it comes to economics commentary. He must be commended for pointing out (“By trying to be popular, a timid government is treading water”, 10/5) this government’s failure to really address the subject of revenue from offshore gas production, when the benefits should be flowing to the real owners – the people of Australia. The conservative predecessors failed the Australian people entirely in this area. Norway, Britain and Qatar have demonstrated that the people of a country can reap the economic benefits from offshore gas reserves.
Brian Kidd, Mt Waverley

Winding inequality back
Jim Chalmers says there’s little to spare in the 2023 budget. There is plenty to spare if those who have much could be satisfied with a bit less and let the excess be put back into the economy and government services. It’s beyond absurd that 10 per cent of Australians now own 50 per cent of the country’s wealth (according to a 2022 report by ACOSS and UNSW), in a county that once prided itself on being egalitarian. We know how we got into this position of ever-increasing inequality, it will require some courage by politicians and some willing altruism from those in the top 10 per cent to help unwind.
Paul Miller, Box Hill South


Attack dog
Where can you find a drover’s dog when you need one? The Coalition were looking for one during the nine years of their recent period of governance. The best they could come up with was Josh Frydenberg, who did deliver some snappy black mugs, but missed out on delivering a surplus.
Alister McKenzie, Wendouree

A surplus of deficits
For the sake of balance (Letters, 10/5), yes Wayne Swan promised four consecutive budget surpluses that never eventuated, but it should be remembered the Coalition promised in 2013 they would “deliver a surplus in their first year and every year after”, yet only managed nine consecutive deficits.
Ross Hudson, Mount Martha

Cash for battlers
The government is very pleased with itself for producing a budget approximately $4 billion in surplus. I find it cruel that some of that money is not spent providing more support for our most vulnerable. JobSeeker and other income support payments have been raised by $40 a fortnight, and rent assistance was lifted a paltry $31 a fortnight. Meanwhile, they are spending more on countering China’s influence in the area. It’s time for a war on poverty.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Waste of money
It’s ironic and sad that at a time when we are talking about budgets and the need to reduce the deficit, this government isn’t doing all in its power to reduce the costs of holding asylum seekers in detention, by allowing all of them to live in the community and to work. The tragic case of Iranian asylum seeker Ned Kelly Emeralds who now prefers Nauru to Australia (“Asylum seeker’s hope is just like ‘torture’,” 10/5) shows how the former government’s policies have not only harmed individuals, but also harmed the budget by paying so much to private companies for detaining them overseas.
Peta Colebatch, Hawthorn

Meeting a need
Congratulations to the Albanese government for raising the age of cut-off for single parent payments. The cost of feeding, clothing and housing as a single parent family is a real, everyday challenge; this will make life a little easier for them.
Marg Pekin, Thornbury

Giving and taking
Your correspondent (Letters, 10/5) praises Jacqui Lambie for taking the government to task for perceived failure to do more for the vulnerable. But they have overlooked Lambie’s role in contributing to these failures by giving her Senate vote to pass the Morrison government’s tax cuts for high earners, which have restricted the opportunity for the current government to provide much-needed support for our disadvantaged and vulnerable persons.
John Togno, Mandurang

Pardon, president?
What a farce if America voted for Donald Trump as president again. How many days off would he need to attend the many courts that have charged him with a myriad of offences? The presidency would become a media circus. Of course, not for one second would Trump think about his nation.
John Rome, Mt Lawley, WA

Path to quitting
On vaping (“E-cigarettes: Long-term risks are unclear amid red flags”, 10/5), surely it should be obvious that ingesting all those chemicals can’t be anything but harmful to the body in the long term. The only people who should be vaping are smokers intent on quitting.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Sense and sensitivity
You would think only the hardest heart would not be moved by Michael Bachelard’s plea for dementia sufferers to be afforded the right to a peaceful death (Comment, 8/5). On the contrary, the whole issue of voluntary assisted dying is a political football, meaning compassion disappears from the lexicon when this topic is on the agenda. It is nothing short of a miracle that the rigid assisted dying laws have only recently been relaxed in Victoria and NSW, allowing people such as Bachelard’s mother-in-law to die in peace. A peaceful death is a fundamental right. Bachelard is to be congratulated for his courage in bringing this sensitive subject into the open.
Joy Nason, Mona Vale

Poor choice
I tuned in to ABC’s coronation coverage hoping to get some background on the event, some atmosphere and some explanation of what was occurring. It was an historic event. I did not tune in to watch Stan Grant and others proselytising about stolen land and other issues. It was not the occasion.

Sadly, I switched to Channel 10 which had an uninterrupted coverage from start to finish. Like others I have spoken to I had expected that the ABC would have provided the quality, calm, measured and detailed preview. If the ABC chooses to run programs on the relevance of the monarchy, stolen lands or republicanism, that’s fine. But on this occasion it was like interrupting the AFL grand final with anti-football campaigners or disinterested hockey players.
John Morton, Bendigo

Mystery coverage
I am perfectly happy for the ABC to debate the issues of the republic and the coronation. What was extremely annoying is that they chose to do it over the top of the coverage of the event. Musicians and singers were performing, people of varying levels of note were arriving, stuff was happening, but we had no idea what was going on.
Greg Walsh, Black Rock

Make booers wait
We must act decisively to prevent the current booing of Lance Franklin to develop into a situation that we are all ashamed – the treatment of Adam Goodes. I suggest that if and when booing occurs in respect of Franklin, both captains lead their sides from the field, and the match be delayed for say five minutes. If booing reoccurs then institute further delays. I believe the offenders would be persuaded by the great majority of non-booers to let them watch football.
Robert Gray, Glen Iris

Part of the banter
It’s crazy how we look for explanations for booing. Pay your money at the gate and express your dislike for opposition players. It’s our right as supporters. The Australian cricket team lived and died on mental torture of opposition players. Rightfully so. Now a man who has had as many accolades bestowed upon him as any other in the game is subject to the booing from a crowd who wants him out.

It’s the nature of competition and the banter between supporters. Are we going to let a committee set the behaviour required of supporters? Keep the boo.
Graham Haupt, Ivanhoe

What about the umps?
Is it still OK to boo umpires? Umpires often make decisions that seem incomprehensible to passionate supporters. That seems the only justifiable reason for resorting to that particular, unattractive outlet.
Colleen Keane, Montmorency

The fortune of St Albans
Thank you Amra Pajalic. I too grew up in St Albans, attending St Albans East Primary School in the ’70s. Although life has taken me to the other side of Melbourne I often speak of the fortunate upbringing I had in such a multicultural community. My understanding of different cultures has enriched my life and benefited my career. Long live St Albans.
Marina Jansz, Brighton East

Koala diversity
There is no point committing $3 million to a “koala strategy” (“Hell zone or haven? Dispute over state’s koala numbers”, 8/5) unless the Victorian government recognises the work completed by others. Contrary to government claims, Victoria’s koalas are not faring well at all. Much of state’s nearly 500,000 koalas are descended from just three male koalas who populated French Island. Their descendants were returned to the mainland after Victoria’s original population was hunted and their habitat destroyed almost to extinction. “Poor genetic diversity” is an understatement.

As far as we know, only one genetically diverse, healthy koala population exists in Victoria. That is the Strzelecki koala of Gippsland, whose population has been estimated at just 2500. These koalas may hold the key to the long-term survival of the koala species. The Victorian government has not contributed a red cent to understanding the DNA or range of this critical sub-species. If not for the donation of money for DNA tests and the donation of time and money by non-government and citizen science organisations, this information wouldn’t even exist.

Not only has the Victorian government wilfully ignored the science, it has stood in the way of efforts to obtain federal protection for Strzelecki koalas, citing the inbred koala population as “evidence” of the health of Victorian koalas.
Janette Connard, Beaumaris

A step too far
The tasteless, juvenile denigration of the King by Cathy Wilcox (The Age, 9/5) strongly implies an advocacy for an Australian republic. But this is the sort of advocacy that will keep us tied to the Crown. It is in reaching for the stars, not the gutter, that we will establish a clear vision for our future, republican or otherwise.
William Hennessy, Clifton Hill

Right on the money
Cathy Wilcox brilliantly nailed things as usual – what a tawdry dirty business it all is.
Freya Headlam, Glen Waverley

Giving it up
If you have a PhD, then you’re a doctor for life (Letters, 10/5). If you have an MBBS then you’re a doctor as long as you’re registered with the medical board of your state. I know – whenever I’m addressed as doctor, I take great pleasure in saying that I’m not any more.
Wayne Robinson, Kingsley

Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

And another thing

The opposition
What will Dutton do? Will he support the poor, pensioners and homeless? Will he support the corporations? We’ll be watching his response to the budget with interest. A few sensible suggestions would be welcomed.
Bill Clark, Melbourne

Knowing what we know now, if the LNP had won the last federal election, which of the two treasurers would have delivered the budget – Frydenberg or Morrison?
Andrew Dods, Apollo Bay

Labor’s budget
Shame on the Labor government for choosing to keep the unemployed living in poverty. An extra $2.86 a day is charity, not justice.
Angela Smith, Clifton Hill

More staff for MPs? They will be needed to deal with the flood of complaints from welfare recipients who must continue to live in poverty.
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Vape ban
I’m struggling to muster much sympathy for the owners of the vape stores who may be forced to close if a ban is enacted. Legislative risk is a business risk just like any other.
David Olive, Kensington

Whatever the health benefits or otherwise of banning vapes (and my sympathies to retailers who stocked up on what was a legal device), removal of all these plastic disposable devices from the environment must be good.
Dave Torr, Werribee

The riot at Western Australia’s Banksia Hill youth detention centre demonstrates, again, that if you treat young people like hardened criminals they will behave like ones.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Another species facing extinction, the orange groper.
Bryan Fraser, St Kilda West

Now that Frankly has been cancelled it’s time for the ABC to elevate Tony Armstrong. Tony Tonight, perfect.
Samantha Keir, East Brighton

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