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TAX FORUM Hope fades in a tale of two camps

THE tax review in Canberra reveals an interesting dichotomy between groups. It appears that the politicians and those with vested interests are on one side of the room, with those believing in tax reform isolated on the other. The politicians appear to be looking for ways to avoid implementing any of the suggestions by Ken Henry, and those representing interest groups seem mainly interested in paying less tax. The idea that national interest needs to be put before vested interest is the salient ...

THE tax review in Canberra reveals an interesting dichotomy between groups. It appears that the politicians and those with vested interests are on one side of the room, with those believing in tax reform isolated on the other. The politicians appear to be looking for ways to avoid implementing any of the suggestions by Ken Henry, and those representing interest groups seem mainly interested in paying less tax. The idea that national interest needs to be put before vested interest is the salient one. Are we able to actually make decisions that allow for steady growth without ignoring or isolating the more needy among us? I keep hoping we will reveal ourselves to be courageous, wise and ethical. I must admit the hope is fading.

Di Johnson, Sassafras

Lone drivers should pay

WELL-PAID bureaucrats and academics go to Canberra for a talkfest on taxes. Included is a congestion tax that will hurt low-income families, pushing prices up and damaging small businesses. In Australian cities, single-occupant cars make up 70 per cent of traffic. Reduce the number of single-occupant cars to reduce congestion and pollution. Aim congestion taxes at single-occupant cars in cities. Exempt commercial vehicles, taxis, motorcycles and scooters. Use the tax on cars to provide protective clothing lockers for riders and to improve public transport.

Damien Codognotto, Independent Riders' Group, Melbourne

Make stamp duty fairer

THE business of raising taxes is always with us but it seems that the people in charge of these processes have blinkers on. Or is it simply that big business and moneyed people really do run the government and "the people" have nothing to do with it? Take stamp duty on house sales. Why isn't it possible to have stamp duty on your home reduced to half (or none for buyers over retirement age), while stamp duty on second and subsequent properties is doubled. Isn't that a fair, support-the-battler type of move?

People of retirement age often want to downsize, but the thought of paying tens of thousands of dollars in stamp duty stops them. Why should anyone sell the family home only to be able to afford a much smaller home because of stamp duty? Surely if you have two or more homes you are better off than the person with one. Great, you want more homes, go for it, but you should pay.

Tom Robb, St Leonards

Plenty of brainpower

I'M STRUGGLING to remember the last time I saw such a clever bunch as that group of minds assembled under Julia Gillard's tutelage in Canberra this week. I watched for a couple of hours on Tuesday night and have to admit to being extremely impressed with the quality of discussion. Will it end up in law? That remains to be seen. But give credit where it's due. Ms Gillard has her head screwed on and knows that being open and inclusive is the best method to get results. I'd like the Treasurer to be a little more forthcoming with the gathered throng. He seems intent on holding his ground while Ms Gillard is somewhat less suspicious.

Arthur Pagonis, Morley, WA


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