John Roskam and Morgan Begg (‘‘No smoking sceptre at the Palace’’, July 15) present a very selective reading of the Palace letters in their attempt to excuse the acts of governor-general John Kerr in 1975.
They view the letters as ‘‘redeeming Kerr’s reputation’’. They argue the decision on who should be prime minister should be made by the Australian people. That decision had already been made by the Australian people in 1974 when they reaffirmed the parliamentary majority of the party led by Gough Whitlam. It was Kerr who negated this decision and empowered a usurper.
The tardily released correspondence reveals that the Queen’s private secretary described use of the reserve powers as a ‘‘last resort’’. With a number of opposition senators already on the verge of backing down, the matter could have been resolved by Kerr not acting as he did. The secretary also advised Kerr that the Queen would follow the advice of her prime minister. The advice of Mr Whitlam was for a half-Senate election and it is that advice that Kerr should have followed.
Dr John Hawkins, Canberra School of Politics, Economics and Society
University of Canberra
Governor-general’s powers up for debate
It’s rare for me to take a different view from my friend John Roskam, but proof that there was no conspiracy involving the Queen in the dismissal of the Whitlam government is not that important.
Far more significant is the fact that governor-general John Kerr dismissed a validly elected government without a sound reason. The government was incompetent and unpopular, for sure, and the Senate (with a majority of Liberal members) was refusing to pass the supply bills.
But it should have been resolved democratically. If the government had run out of money, it would not be the end of the world (it happens in the US regularly). The Senate was already showing signs of backing down with the Liberals wary of losing support and an election due within months.
What we now have is an agreement by both the Liberals and Labor that they will never again block supply. However, this still leaves the governor-general with the power to dismiss a government. No democracy should give any individual that power.
Company tax rate should stay at 30pc
Except for one issue I fully support Andrew Bragg’s specific recommendations to enhance Sydney as a financial centre (‘‘Why Sydney is the new Hong Kong’’, July 15).
Introducing tailored measures to help create or enhance various business sectors is in the national interest. Sydney has many lifestyle benefits to attract business relocation. They should be promoted.
The one area of disagreement is the company tax rate. For numerous reasons the company tax rate should remain at 30 per cent. The company tax rate is a reflection of equity, integrity and balance. Forfeiting taxation revenue by changing a basic country-wide taxation measure to assist one industry in one city is illogical.
Expanded GST not the right tax solution
Howard Lovell suggests we abolish all income taxes, and raise the GST to compensate, to generate more investment and jobs (‘‘Radical reform vital to reshape the economy’’, Letters, July 15).
Sorry Howard, but you are indeed dreaming.
GST raises about $65 billion a year, all of which goes to the states. Federal income taxes total about $345 billion a year. The GST rate would need to be increased to at least 60 per cent before factoring in the significant extra cost of compensating low-income earners for their higher costs of living. No chance.
Mr Lovell, like the current government, also makes the assumption that more money in the hands of business will automatically flow into investment and jobs. The past decade has proved that the bulk of excess funds, boosted further by cheap debt, has been used for share buybacks and dividends.
Profitable opportunities drive productive investment, and that is where the challenge lies.
Evidence the pulpit is a crowded space
It takes a rare breed to write a lengthy polemic about matters as complex as compulsory superannuation without including any data to support the argument. So bravo, Tanveer Ahmed (‘‘Super is the latest pulpit for the lecturing left’’, July 15).
With such little evidence, you might wonder: why would a suburban Sydney psychiatrist write such a diatribe? Perhaps Dr Ahmed should have disclosed he is a long-time Liberal Party political aspirant, a former local councillor, and an unsuccessful preselection candidate in the seat of Reid at last year’s election.
Sunshine Coast, Qld
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