Letters to the editor

Cartoon: Carlos Latuff.

Opposed to carbon tax

I am a committed greenie, but I was not one of the thousands who rallied on the weekend.

I am opposed to the carbon tax because it hurts the poor and lines the pockets of the rich, without doing anything real for the climate.

Just 10% of this tax is earmarked for funding for renewable energy, with more than this amount (the government is very coy about the exact figure) to be given to the biggest polluters, as “compensation”. This is just business as usual — lots of money for the worst polluters and a few crumbs for renewables.

Higher energy prices are meant to be an “incentive” to encourage people to make their homes more energy-efficient. But with a (diligently maintained) rental shortage, there is no incentive for a landlord to make a rental house more efficient.

This inequity can be resolved through subsidies and concessions, but it begs the question: why impose the tax in the first place?

A simple “climate levy” — with 100% of the money (instead of 10%!) going to research, funding and tax breaks for renewables — would be a more logical system.

I've been told by a number of people — both Green and Socialist — that this tax is “better than nothing”. I could not disagree more. The carbon tax is an obvious con. It will take vast amounts of cash from the community and give it to the worst polluters. It will not help the environment.

Alex Milne
Castlemaine, Vic

Taxi inquiry disappointing drivers, public

The former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Allan Fels, has released a document, Setting the Scene, to mark the start of his inquiry into the Victorian taxi industry. The Victorian public as well as taxi drivers can only be disappointed with its contents.

In this report, Fels states that the main problem in the industry is the growth in complaints against taxi drivers. During the period 2005 to 2010, complaints against drivers are shown as having increased significantly.

Data from the industry regulator, the Victorian Taxi Directorate (VTD), however, is flawed. It doesn't reveal the origins or initial source of each complaint. No attempt has been made to categorise or the classify the complaints data.

Security at the Crown Casino and elsewhere, for instance, often complain about taxi drivers to the VTD for refusing to remove intoxicated passengers from their premises. Taxi drivers are also subject to complaints for asking passengers to pay for their taxi fare up front.

Taxi drivers, however, are legally entitled to refuse intoxicated passengers and can request payment in advance, at anytime.

Setting the Scene, more importantly, is not informed by any overseas best practice and technology models.

The document does not offer any incentive structures as a way for the industry to move forward and to retain and attract competent people. Although “sham contracting” is widespread in the industry, and considered unconscionable by the Fair Work Office in Victoria, Professor Allan Fels has not developed a model for its replacement.

Submissions and comments can be made to the Fels inquiry by June 23, at inquiry@transport.vic.gov.au.

John Glazebrook
Endeavour Hills, Vic

Major policy change needed for refugees

The proposal to send boat refugees to Malaysia is obviously fraught with problems and should be canned as soon as possible.

There is nothing illegal about refugees arriving by boat here and seeking asylum. The Australian government simply has a legal and moral obligation to look after them, full stop.

It is scandalous that the ALP is shopping around all over the place to offload the refugees onto various Pacific nations, most of which are too poor to feed their own people.

What is their real motivation? They claim it is “to stop the boats” but in reality they fear voter backlash, the same gutless response as the Howard government to the Hansonite attitude.

The only effective answer here is to rapidly process the refugees, get them housed and into the workforce.

The record of refugees succeeding is exceptionally good. The ALP government has been driven to ape the Howard government’s cowardice and it reflects poorly on them — and on Australia as a nation. This attitude does not engender respect at all, to the contrary.

Klaas Woldring,
Pearl Beach, 2256

Spain’s electoral gerrymander

Dick Nichols canvassed the likely result of the Spanish national elections due in early 2012 based on the local election results of May 22 [GLW #882].

The Left and disaffected youth of Spain have to overcome an electoral system inherited from Franco’s dictatorship that discriminates grotesquely against them.

A provincial city needs only 30,000 votes to send a Deputy to the Cortes, while progressive Barcelona needs 150,000 votes. The gerrymander is designed to maintain the hegemony of Franco’s heirs.

Since the end of the dictatorship, the voters of Spain have favoured the Left in national elections with the Left getting between 1.5 million and 2 million more votes than the Right.

The electoral “system” does not always translate this into government “office” for the Left.

As George Venturini states in his recently published “The Last Great Cause” [Search Foundation, Sydney 2010], “the gap between what people want and vote for and what they receive from the Congress of Deputies and the government is very large. The Right-wing domination of political institutions and the effort by the Socialists to appear ‘respectable’ and ‘centrist’ are the major cause of social backwardness and underdevelopment of Spain.”

The ruling capitalist/feudal/catholic oligarchy destroyed the Spanish Republican government through civil war between 1936-1939 and continued to murder its enemies on the Left held in jails into the 1970s while Franco lived.

They hate and despise democracy so beware their reaction to popular demands in the weeks and months ahead.

Dave Bell,
Orange, NSW

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