Wealthy on the pension? This is the age of entitlement

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I read in The Age about a couple with a combined super of about $1.15million wanting to make transfers to one partner so the other can get the pension (“Can I get a pension if I transfer my super?” Money, 22/11). Talk about entitlement. I have knowledge of a multimillionaire who has managed his income to be eligible for a low-income healthcare card. And, let’s not talk about the stage 3 tax cuts that will only seriously benefit the wealthy. Where has the egalitarian Australia I grew up in gone?
David Raymond, Doncaster East

Not all older people
Ageist stereotypes of older people as property rich travellers with assets to leave to the next generations diminishes the conversation about important issues of health, home ownership and ageing. Older women are the fastest growing group to experience homelessness. Sixty-one thousand Vietnam veterans are living with the consequences of their service. Single mothers in this generation did not amass property and live in older age reliant on the pension. Older Australians with mental health issues did not have access to the community awareness and resources available now. Some older Australians will leave no assets to the next generation because what they have will pay for increasing health and aged care costs.
Nora Vitins, Elwood

Spending priorities caught in a loop
I didn’t need the Bureau of Statistics to tell me about the pressures that are on Victorian families, but it’s nice to have my suspicions confirmed (“Challenges hit Victorians the hardest”, 22/11). A straw poll of small businesses will tell you that business is bad because many people don’t have any discretionary income left to spend.
A spokesman for state Treasurer Tim Pallas says the government understands the pressure households are facing. He is no doubt aware that cost-of-living pressures could be a significant issue at the next Victorian election. Premier Jacinta Allan should immediately cancel the Suburban Rail Loop project. Then Pallas would have money to spend on the stuff that Labor should be focusing on, like public health, housing and education.
James Tucker, Greensborough

The wrong kind of growth
Our state government’s addiction to growth is illogical. Victorians are going backwards in terms of their finances and quality of lives. The list of symptoms is getting longer – unaffordable house prices and rents, rising interest rates, increasing commuting times – for which a common driver is immigration-fuelled population growth. No wonder the state wants to have input into the country’s migration policy (“States demand a say on immigration”, 21/11). Yet our government is still “banking on solid growth”.
Ian Penrose, Kew

Productivity the issue
Inflation is still rising. So are wages. But productivity isn’t. With the best of efforts, productivity will take some time to increase. Unfortunately, our government isn’t making the best of efforts to increase it. Instead, it has put industrial relations barriers in the way of productivity. A likely outcome of this great contradiction is that interest rates will, at best, stay as they are. However, it is even more likely that they will continue to rise and households will suffer further. High inflation and interest rates are the direct results of the government’s industrial relations and productivity policies.
Michael Angwin, Surrey Hills

Bold step to a fairer Australia
Your correspondent (“Expanding horizons”, 22/11) is right. While the prime minister is reluctant to jeopardise his party’s reputation in keeping its word, he needs to reconsider the tax cuts to high income earners. Third-stage cuts will cost Australian taxpayers $184 billion over the next 10 years and cannot be justified when financial hardship is growing. Voters understand that circumstances change and will respect a leader who has the courage to re-evaluate when seeking to bring about a fairer Australia.
Bryan Long, Balwyn


Choose your protest
What I would give to be a student today rather than in the ’70s when there was no opportunity to skip school. Well, certainly not with school support and the state government looking the other way. But these days it looks like our Education Department and state government are watching over weekly protests. With a climate protest last week, a Palestinian protest this week and surely a protest against the slaughter and kidnapping of Israelis the week after, are there enough weeks left to fit in protests for persecuted Christians, Uyghurs, and Indigenous peoples?
I call on our state government to clarify its response. Can our school kids miss classes for every protest? Or is it like an elective, where students have to choose at the start of each semester which protest they like best. Not that it’s easy to choose before you have learned anything about the subject.
Henry Kalus, Southbank

You too can act
Many recent correspondents to these pages have been critical of student strikes/protests and the causes that they are demonstrating for, citing that there are better or more correct issues that should be the focus of the students’ concerns. If these correspondents feel so strongly about the issues they raise, perhaps they should follow the students’ lead and organise a strike or protest themselves rather than just being critical of youthful thinking and action.
Graeme Gardner, Reservoir

Simplifying the issue
The problem with the school strike for Palestine is that it doesn’t allow for context and nuance in what is a very complex geopolitical conflict. If the students are as sophisticated as they profess, they would know that – but they don’t.
Shaun Miller, Prahran

Learn in the classroom
It’s one thing for school students to take to the streets to protest against issues that will affect them such as climate change. However, when it comes to complex geopolitical issues such as the situation in the Middle East, such behaviour becomes disruptive, open to exploitation and untenable. Considering the vast number of such current events globally, they would be spending more time on the streets than the classroom.
Leon Fink, Kew

Opportunity to grow
The negative discourse around the student strikes for climate and for Palestine demonstrate just how out of touch our politicians are when it comes to understanding the viewpoints and passions of young people. At a time when social cohesion is close to unravelling and the quality of debate continues to wane, instead of encouraging students to engage in their civic duties, we hear the Victorian government essentially telling them to ″⁣stay in their lane″⁣. We should be encouraging and providing contemporary opportunities for young people to explore, share and build their voices, and this includes engaging in the key democratic freedoms of speech and protest, should they want to.
As a secondary educator who has taught hundreds of passionate and enthusiastic students of politics, and who also had a teacher light the spark in me to write a letter to this very masthead when I was 16, anything else belittles the tenacity, thoughtfulness and maturity of today’s younger generations.
Roseanne Tiziani, Hawthorn

Who’s the greater risk?
Numerous correspondents to The Age raise Hamas’ alleged desire to destroy Israel. Of the Palestinians – which obviously includes Hamas – and Israel, only one party has the capacity to destroy the other. We are witnessing that now in Gaza.
Shane McCartin, Macleod

Genuine concerns
Is it any wonder young people feel compelled to be heard? The atrocities in the Israel-Hamas war are very distressing. So, too, Ukraine’s suffering continues. And climate change will adversely impact their future. In my view, they are entitled to express their opinions – as many from my generation did against the Vietnam War and the federal government’s disgraceful decision to conscript young men by a lottery. As a schoolgirl, I proudly attended several peaceful moratoriums – and had the support of my parents and teachers from my school. Indeed, I might even join today’s march myself. Like many of these students, I also feel disenfranchised, fearing for my grandchildren’s future.
Sally Davis, Malvern East

Sowing seeds of hate
My greatest fear is that the current conflict in Gaza is doing nothing more than giving birth to a group of people, not just from Palestine but many other countries in the Middle East, who will have an even stronger hatred for the state of Israel. Trying to wipe Hamas from the face of the earth may well have the opposite effect and is in fact planting the seed for many more decades of hideous pain and torture. The only solution is a two-state region and for both sides to stop the fighting.
Frank Flynn, Cape Paterson

Illusion of safety
Is Australia becoming a militarised country by stealth in plain sight? (“New team on trams hopes to keep your safety on track”, 21/11). From the intimidating black uniforms of Australian Border Force through any number of public and private “security” groups to now yet another quasi-military outfit, this time on Melbourne’s trams — none of them makes me feel one iota safer. Any assumption from ticket inspectors that you’ve done something wrong and should be punished, not helped, is the first step to a lack of harmony on our public transport system.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Work behind the scenes
With due respect, Coalition MPs and others criticising Anthony Albanese for not revealing his private discussion with Xi Jinping and/or not making a strong public protest statement at the time reveal they have no understanding of the subtleties and nuances needed at times to achieve, over time, effective conflict resolution, especially at the global level regarding long-standing issues.
With China’s known sensitivity to humiliation, being publicly accused of recklessness and unprofessionalism would more likely get the point through than would a more threatening belligerent statement. Building trust between national leaders includes keeping commitments to pledged privacy of some discussions. No doubt behind the scenes, Australian and our allies’ national leaders, including defence personnel etc, will be discussing the most constructive ways to achieve our aims regarding this issue.
Jennifer Gerrand, Carlton North

Rebuilding bridges
Anthony Albanese may just be reaching his “misogyny” speech moment with Peter Dutton: “I will not be lectured by this man on foreign policy!” The former government, including Peter Dutton, with their brutish, arrogant and sledgehammer approach to relationships with other countries has cost Australia goodwill, trust, billions of trade dollars and the trashing of Australia’s reputation internationally. A year of concerted work by the Albanese government has been focused on repair and relationship building after the cack-handed damage by the Morrison government in which Peter Dutton was a key figure.
Cathy Humphreys, North Melbourne

Respected name
Your correspondent describes the shortlisted moon rover name Coolamon as one that sounds like “a cheap knock-off brand of ice cooler to rival Esky” (Letters, 21/11), ignoring that in reality it is an Aboriginal multipurpose device used for digging yams, as a container for goods, or carrying a baby. A sad reflection on our understanding of Indigenous heritage.
Alan West, Research

Green dangers
I’m with your correspondent (“Rage on the roads”, 20/11). I was fined for being 0.6 seconds “elapsed time on red”. This happened as I had just observed a driver speeding past me in a blink, then passing around a tram on the wrong side of the road and disappearing into the distance! I’m sure this reckless driver never received a penalty but I guess they went through the intersection on green.
Carolyn Flegg, Clifton Hill

Give it to the dogs
Shane Wright highlights councils spending between $25,000 and $320,000 in federal grants to improve facilities for dog owners and their dogs. I’m sure that some of their money allocated for taps and lights are a little bit shady, but this has nothing to do with the dogs or their owners. What about $1.7 million being spent on one small inner suburban cricket ground at Victoria Road Reserve? This renovation includes a new cricket pitch, irrigation, new grass, an extra bowling cage and new lights, (although the old ones were perfectly functional).
I’ll have the dog park improvements any time. These provide joy and new friendships and build community groups. Sporting facilities provide rubbish around the oval, post-game drunken outbursts and ground lights being left on all night.
Wolfgang Damschitz, Hawthorn East

Stress-free holidays
Good luck. Jenna Price, with your holidays (“Boomers, let’s holiday like a Millennial”, 22/11). But if one has to stay at home, just holiday at home. Read, eat, snooze, laze, knit, daydream. And most of all cuddle your kids and grandchildren. Now that’s better than packing and stress at airports.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

Fine print cost
No doubt many of your NSW readers were as flabbergasted as I was to read that your correspondent managed to get from Circular Quay to the airport for $1. They failed to note that on top of the train journey, Transport for NSW includes a preposterous station access fee of $16.68.
Trevor Sheridan, Charmhaven, NSW


Credit: Illustration: Matt Golding

School strikes
In 1969, I left school to attend a demonstration to protest the immoral war against the Vietnamese people. Has something changed?
Denis Evans, Coburg

Your correspondent exhorts schoolchildren to “march in peace for every cause you want” (“The gaining of wisdom”, Letters, 22/11). Would that they had marched in support of an Indigenous Voice to parliament.
Joe Wilder, Caulfield North

Middle East conflict
Looking at your correspondent’s list of civil wars and humanitarian crises (“Why protest against this war?” Letters, 22/11), you just have to think – too much testosterone.
Joan Peverell, Malvern

The incubator cartoon by Cathy Wilcox (The Age, 22/11) says it all. What sort of world awaits today’s newborns?
Pamela Pilgrim, Highett

Will the security officers employed by Yarra Trams carry a big bag so one can also buy a ticket?
Joan Segrave, Healesville

“Lower speed limits can help save lives” (Editorial, 22/11), but without strict enforcement it’s just pie in the sky!
Wendy Brennan, Bendigo

The South African coach, Rob Walter, refused to watch the Cricket World Cup final – and that’s why they’ll never win one.
Ian Macdonald, Traralgon

Re The Way We Wore on ABC TV. We wore Norma Tullo, Prue Acton, Sally Browne.
All proudly Australian.
Evelyn Cronk, Brighton

There is concern that there will be another COVID wave coming. Nobody wants masks again, but nobody wants to die either, so bring back the masks for the majority who are sensible.
Dennis Fitzgerald, Box Hill

It’s a no-brainer, the Australian moon rover should be called Bruce.
John Bye, Elwood

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