Freedom to do what we want with our assets

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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Freedom to do what we want with our assets

Correspondents bemoan that owners of dwellings are leaving them vacant (Letters, 11 and 13/2). It is their asset and they can do with it what they want. How would it be if, to placate those who do not have a vehicle, car owners were financially penalised for the times they were not using it? The car is lying idle and could be used by someone who cannot afford one. In our society, owners of assets are free to do with them what they will. Let’s not start to change that.
Angus McLeod, Cremorne

Assist the needy, not multiple property owners

Of course everyone has the right to invest wisely in housing or anything else, as your correspondent says (Letters, 13/2). The question is whether the government (ie the taxpayer) should be helping them to do this. Why should someone be able to claim tax deductions for their second, fifth or 15th negatively geared property?

Perhaps the assistance should go to those in greater need – renters, pensioners, the unemployed, the homeless, the mentally ill, people who are forking out for expensive medicines or who want to get their teeth fixed, and parents who are trying to find the money to pay the “voluntary” contribution at their public school.
Lindsay Zoch, Mildura

The shame of becoming a ’room banker’

My wife and I live in our three-bedroom family home of 40 years. Now that our daughters have left home, should we move into a one-bedroom flat or rent out our spare rooms? Could we be called “room bankers”?
Ian Anderson, Ascot Vale

Follow Singapore’s lead to increase ownership

Chris Barrett’s report on Singapore’s housing policy – “How to make owning a home reality for most citizens” (Comment, 11/2) – was very informative. The Singaporean government has the backbone to intervene in the housing market to achieve 90per cent home ownership for its citizens. This involves government-funded construction, minimum holding periods, restrictions on multi-unit ownership and so on. Top marks to the Housing and Development Board of Singapore for providing a basic human need. I hope our planners and politicians read Barrett’s article.
Andrew Barnes, Ringwood

Using our super to buy, and pay off, a home

Singapore’s 90 per cent home ownership rate is something for Australia to strive towards. It seems simple and easy to copy Singapore’s methodology: allow mortgage deposits (and even repayments) to come out of your “compulsory savings” (in our case, superannuation). Or simply combine home ownership with super, so that it owns your home. This would do away with the ridiculous notion that you can have plenty of superannuation but not enough money to purchase your first house.
Rob Skelton, Creswick

When prices are higher and rates are lower

When I was buying my house 30 years ago during the Keating-led recession, it cost $200,000 and I was paying about $24,000 in annual interest. Now that house is worth $1.2million (the worst-case scenario) and a buyer would be paying about $48,000 in interest.
Most people think that because interest rates are much lower now than they were 30 years ago, we are better off. They are wrong. We have to wake up to what is going on, particularly for first home buyers.
Mark Stoney, South Melbourne

Expect rents to rise as the overseas students return

Who says there is a housing crisis? The international students are coming back to our country, which will push up rents even further. For many of the 2million landlords in Australia, the good times just keep on rolling.
Kim Bessant, Footscray


Tackle ’legacy caseload’

I am greatly relieved the federal government will allow past boat arrivals on temporary protection visas and safe haven enterprise visas to apply for permanent residency (The Age, 13/2).

However, there are still around 30,000 asylum seekers on bridging visas, many of whom cannot be returned to their home country and have been here for up to 10 years. They have no, or limited, support from government (eg, Medicare or Centrelink income) and do not have work rights.

They are dependent on community support for medical care, food, housing, utilities, phone. This deprives them of self-worth and dignity, severely affecting their mental health in the process. Hopefully, the government can now focus on this “legacy caseload” so that these people can also look forward to a secure life here.
Alice Glover, Thornbury

The forgotten refugees

The federal government’s change of policy regarding temporary protection visas should be applauded even though it was well overdue on what has been an inhumane policy. However, the government still has work to do, and in particular explain why it needed to extend the role of the Nauru detention centre.
Bruce MacKenzie, South Kingsville

Why the about face?

Having stuck rigidly to their claim that “only the best candidates”
(ie,men) are preselected to stand for the Liberal Party, suddenly some of its leaders are demanding that a woman be preselected for the seat of Aston. Could this possibly mean political expediency trumps principle in the Liberal Party?
Glenda McNaught, East Melbourne

Impact of urbanisation

Over the last three to four decades, the Maribyrnong River catchment has experienced massive development and redevelopment.

The impact of this on flooding is threefold – increasing flood volumes, increasing peaks, and decreasing time to the peaks (sometimes referred to as the time of concentration).

This urbanisation of the catchment is far from complete and so future storm events comparable to that of 2022 will result in bigger floods and wreak greater havoc on the existing flood-prone land. No viable solution to what is likely to become more frequent, extreme flooding can be arrived at without also considering the impact of the catchment urbanisation and redevelopment.
Bernie O’Kane, Heidelberg

Texting to save lives

Victoria’s suicide rates have escalated. For every death, it is estimated that 30 people attempt it. Under the age of 45, the most common causes of death and injury in Australia are suicide and attempted suicide.

The July 2022 report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 40per cent of the population have had contact with a suicidal person. A recent survey we did of more than 2000 people showed that most people do not know what to say and are afraid of saying the wrong thing. There will never be enough professionals to see a suicidal person.

In a world-first initiative, the Australian Suicide Prevention Foundation provides free, medically-approved texts that family and friends can download from to send to a suicidal person. Instead of a difficult conversation, multiple protective texts can be sent until the danger has passed. Together we can reduce injuries and deaths.
Associate Professor David Horgan, department of psychiatry, University of Melbourne

High cost of excess plastic

Since a large proportion of the plastic waste generated comes from its overuse in our supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, surely they should be required to take responsibility for its successful recycling. This should serve as the impulse they need to cut the amount of unnecessary packaging they use and which gets dumped in landfill.

For those of us who conscientiously separated and returned our packaging, we are quite discouraged and our garbage bins are now twice as full. Why should the taxpayer cover this when the enormous profits of the supermarkets should easily cover the expense?
Helen Walker-Cook, Geelong West

Focus on the borrowers

The government instigating the first independent review of the Reserve Bank is good, I agree. Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe appearing before Senate estimates tomorrow will be interesting, no doubt. Questioning whether his tenure should be extended is valid. But, really, political and media attention should be on the borrowers who have been knocked for six.

The government should outline what help is available now, and not in May, for mortgage holders who have to now find tens of thousands of dollars extra a year to service their loan. The Opposition should offer alternative ways to combat the problem, not score political points. And Lowe should explain why home borrowers have had to bear the brunt of the Reserve Bank’s attempt to combat high inflation in the first place.
Dora Houpis, Richmond

The cost of cheap money

The printing of money since the global financial crisis and the flow of cheap money propping up and overly inflating all asset classes have been the biggest failures of governments and treasuries across Western economies. The bankers and CEOs oversaw share buybacks, paid themselves eye-watering bonuses and then cashed out. Now it is time for everybody else to pay the piper. We should be hauling former treasurer Josh Frydenberg before Senate estimates this week too.
Brent Baigent, Richmond

Clarifying sovereignty

Thank you, Jack Latimore, for your eye-opening explanation of Indigenous and western notions of sovereignty (Sunday Age, 12/2) and the concerns of whether enshrining a Voice to parliament will extinguish sovereignty for First Nations people. (Spoiler alert: it will not).

Along with your historical account of terra nullius, treaty (or lack thereof) and native title, this detailed article should be mandatory reading; indeed, it should be permanently written into Australian curriculum. As a firm believer that education is the most powerful tool to change the world, this teacher will be voting Yes to those changes.
Tim Webster, Hurstbridge

Protecting the children

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds has argued forcefully for the need for a federal minister for children (Sunday Age, 12/2). Her arguments also provided cogent reasons for endorsing the Voice. It will allow First Nations people to advise the government about the impact, on their children, of proposed legislation.
Juliet Flesch, Kew

More detail, please, PM

Imagine if restaurants took the same approach as Anthony Albanese does with the Voice referendum. There would be no menus, only “nourishing” food on offer, with no specifics as to what each dish is or its ingredients. Customers would only find out that information after they had eaten. The cost too, would be a post-meal surprise. By the time the customers feel the first unsettling pangs of indigestion after the referendum, it is far too late.
Jeremy Browne, Ripponlea

Peace and tolerance

I was born in Australia and my husband was born in England. One of our children has married a Colombian, the other a Javanese. Their children are beautiful and I applaud the fact that they, the parents, are part of a cohort that doesn’t see race as an issue. I long for the day when all peoples of the world feel they are part of a large global family, and do not racially vilify or punish others who are not like them. I dream of a day when nations do not send their sons to be killed because others are different.
Margaret Collings, Anglesea

Let’s ignore the hawks

Security cameras that are not connected to the internet, either directly or through linkage to open IT systems, have no means of sending anything anywhere. Can we tell the hawks to get out of our foreign affairs once and for all.
Mick Lewin, Southbank

In defence of Greens

Peter Hartcher’s article was very enlightening except for his assertion that “by frustrating Labor’s 2009 emissions plan, the Greens doomed progress, doomed Labor and handed control to the Coalition for a decade” (Comment, 11/2). The carbon emissions trading scheme was bad climate policy. It gave billions in handouts to coal companies and big polluters, while it locked in emissions targets for 25 years that failed the science.

Just months later, Greens worked with the Gillard government and Independent MPs to introduce world-leading climate legislation. That package included a price on carbon that worked to reduce emissions, the establishment of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. It drove down pollution and over 600 energy projects around the country. Pollution went down when the carbon price was in force in 2013, when the Abbott government tore it down.
Judy Cameron, Winchelsea South

Media focus on conflict

Sean Kelly (Comment, 11/2) asks “how do Labor MPs and ministers recover their confidence that reasonable debates can be had without destabilising the party?” The reason they can’t is that any disagreement is immediately cast by the media as a split, a conflict or controversial. The problem is that much of the media, rather than political parties, is not reasonable.
Noel Turnbull, Port Melbourne

The generation clash

The apology to the Stolen Generation occurred 15 years ago. And now Peter Dutton realises it was a mistake to walk out on it. He is yesterday’s man. As Scott McKenzie sang in San Francisco, “there’s a whole generation with a new explanation”.
John Groom, Bentleigh


Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Strange objects

In breaking news, the use of Chinese-manufactured party balloons has been banned from celebrations in all government offices.
Ken Richards, Elwood

What if that object flying over Canada was a UFO? Has the US started an intergalactic war?
Layla Godfrey, Mount Eliza

A parachute should be made compulsory while flying over US territory.
Gary Bryfman, Brighton

UFO: unsettling flying object.
Ralph Bohmer, St Kilda West


It’s a relief for taxpayers that Alan Tudge has left parliament. His extracurricular activities were quite expensive.
David Lyall, Mount Eliza

If MPs don’t serve their full term, the cost of a byelection in their seats should be deducted from their generous superannuation.
Andy Wain, Rosebud

Don’t be astonished if a female candidate for Aston benefits from a strong anti-Tudge vote
returning to the Liberal side of the ledger.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

My fridge, TV, phone, radio and washing machine are all made in China. Should I be worried?
Peter Heffernan, Balaclava

Is it possible the Victorian government has its head in the clouds because it’s sitting on too many unreleased reports?
Ross Coulthard, Glen Iris


If The Age can spare him, please may we have Ross Gittins as next governor of the Reserve Bank?
Anthea Hyslop, Eltham

Phoebe Bridgers (Arts, 10/2): a prime example of the intolerance of the new tolerance.
Barb Kingston, Mount Waverley

How many women proposed to in public (11/2) feel pressured to say yes rather than embarrass “him”?
Tris Raouf, Hadfield

It’s just as well Australia has a women’s cricket team.
Doris LeRoy, Altona

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