In the dark over super investments
I READ with interest the article "Wages of sin: who are you funding?" (The Saturday Age, 10/12). Even investment plans calling themselves "ethical" may be dubious, as they do not disclose which companies they invest in.
As a member of UniSuper, I wanted to know more about its "socially responsible" option, which states that "UniSuper's socially responsible investment options give you the opportunity to direct your superannuation investment toward companies with socially responsible practices".
But no further information is provided on the website. In May I inquired about which companies my superannuation is directed to when choosing the "socially responsible" option. First I received misleading answers, then an acknowledgement that this information will not be disclosed.
Elek Pafka, Melbourne
UK adds to dangers
DAVID Cameron claims to have put the interests of the UK first by being the only European Union member state that has not backed proposed treaty amendments to tackle the euro zone debt crisis ("Britain blocks EU treaty change", The Saturday Age, 10/12).
However, rather than protecting the UK, his actions only increase the risks to Europe as a whole and make a financial Armageddon more likely. If the euro zone breaks up, the financial impact on the UK will be as much as on any other nation.
Garry Meller, Bentleigh
Follow the leader
BILL Mathew reminds us how much investment the US has in the military industry, making the pursuit of peace financially unattractive to the politically influential captains of that industry (Letters, 10/12).
As well as the "war on terror", Australian politicians also follow the lead of the US in its other war, the "war on drugs". Again, there is a massive investment in the US law enforcement and prison industries, which is a huge disincentive to medicalising the drug problem. Australia an independent nation? Not that I've noticed.
Margaret Callinan, Balwyn
What an insult
IT IS almost impossible to believe that Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential frontrunner, has called the Palestinians an "invented" people. This comment must rank as the most ill-judged statement in the history of American politics and is an insult to a proud Palestinian people, who have suffered inhumane treatment since 1948.
Rex Williams, Ainslie, ACT
in the system
PETER Martin recently highlighted the "allowance for corporate equity" (ACE) issue ("Zero tax proposed for most companies", The Age, 6/12).
ACE is certainly not ace. Taxing only "super" profits above a certain level of return (which itself will be the subject of great debate) means most companies will pay no income tax, so make no contribution to Australian society. This is inequitable.
As it is, according to Tax Office statistics, 60 per cent of companies are non-taxable. Between 2005 and 2008, according to a deputy commissioner, 40 per cent of big business paid no income tax. The global financial crisis is likely to have made that percentage even higher.
The solution is a system that makes them pay some contribution towards society. A minimum company tax, removal of the disguised tax grants for business (e.g. capital gains tax concessions) and a super profits tax on top of ordinary income tax points to a fairer system in which capital as well as labour contributes fairly to community coffers. Taxing the banks' super profits also comes to mind.
I hold little hope that the system will be changed, as both major parties rule for the rich.
John Passant, Kambah, ACT
A secretive act
THE true intent of Victoria's Freedom of Information Act is revealed by the so-called exemptions ("Reform of FOI branded a sham", The Sunday Age, 11/12), which provide a legislative basis for almost unlimited government secrecy, and which would have been impossible to get through Parliament had they been contained in legislation with a more honest title, such as "Official Secrets Act".
Gavin Putland, Melbourne
NOW that we have proof that rats are compassionate individuals who will do all in their power to prevent the suffering of fellow rats ("Rat cunning: an open and shut case", The Saturday Age, 10/12) how can we possibly justify inflicting so much pain on them in laboratories?
And how can we justify inflicting pain on broiler chickens, battery hens, pigs in sow stalls, dairy cows or any animal, for if rats have empathy these other animals almost certainly do too. If we continue to deliberately inflict pain on our fellow creatures, despite this knowledge, could it prove that they are more altruistic than we humans are?
Jenny Moxham, Monbulk
Legacy to celebrate
CONGRATULATIONS to those involved with the tasteful decorations on the Kew Memorial ("Baubles on a war memorial? Christmas has gone crazy", The Saturday Age, 10/12).
The RSL has lost sight of the purpose of war which is to protect our democracy and freedom. During war soldiers celebrated Christmas. There were occasions when a truce was called to allow celebrations.
The decorations drew my attention to the memorial that I would otherwise generally not notice, except for on Anzac Day.
I ask the RSL to rekindle its community spirit that while the members commemorate the fallen they also allow us to celebrate the fallen's legacy our wellbeing and celebration of life.
Ron Egeberg, Rosanna
AFTER a visit to the spinal unit at Kew's somewhat isolated Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre, I tried (in my electric wheelchair) to catch the hourly shuttle bus between Royal Talbot and the Austin Hospital. From there I would be able to catch a train, bus or tram back to the city. To my amazement, I discovered all the shuttle buses are inaccessible to wheelchairs. Sometimes it feels like the Comedy Festival is a year-round affair.
Grant Cleary, Melbourne
Rename the act
WHY not change the Marriage Act and rename it the Marriage and Civil Unions Act to formally recognise civil unions between same-sex couples. This would achieve the legal equality the gay lobby is seeking while removing a major roadblock to change namely, the appropriation of the term "marriage". Let's see some maturity among the antagonists so we can avoid the sort of policy debacle caused by the Greens' opposition to Kevin Rudd's carbon pollution reduction scheme.
John Kotsopoulos, North Balwyn
Move with times
JOHN Creece (Letters, 9/12), the institution of marriage is not derived exclusively from Christianity and has existed for thousands of years prior. To evidence the place of inequality in society with a 1960s law only lends undeserved permanence to decades-old thinking. With that kind of reasoning women would never have gotten the vote. To answer your rhetoric, why live in a democracy if you happily accept centuries-old status quo?
Will Muhleisen, Clifton Hill
Calling to account
WHEN I read articles in The Age on the state of the building industry and the background politics of cattle grazing ("Building permits system damned", 7/12 "Baillieu clan's key cattleman", 9/12), it makes me grateful that investigative journalism is alive and well. Ordinary citizens, working long hours, would otherwise be unaware and lack the time to find out about such activities. We need such exposure for public accountability.
Elizabeth Meredith, Surrey Hills
THERE is much to enjoy about living in a small country town. Being an Age subscriber is not one. For some time I have been aware that my subscription does not include the glossy monthly magazine about Melbourne. In particular I was looking forward to the recent edition on 2011's 100 most influential people.
When it was not included in my paper, I rang the company to ask why. The excuses ranged from: our town was too small and freight costs (Camperdown, a slightly larger town 13 kilometres away, doesn't have the same problems).
But the final excuse really annoyed me blame the local newsagent. This same gentleman ensures I receive three newspapers a day, and The Sydney Morning Herald once a week, come hail or shine.
Discrimination in the country is alive and well.
Dale Margaret Vagg, Cobden