Eden Magnet Letters to the Editor, February 7

Cut forestry, cut jobs

On January 27 I attended a meeting in Eden organised by the NSW National Parks Association discussing the “Vision for Eden and our Unspoilt South Coast”. Member for Eden-Monaro Mike Kelly was one of the speakers. Having worked in the timber industry around Bombala and Eden for more than 45 years I was interested to hear Mike’s vision for our future.

On Sunday, Mike made it clear he wanted the chip mill out of native forests. While he didn’t mention the Eden sawmill, stopping harvesting would see the end of the sawmill as well as the chip mill. All the harvesting businesses would go and the businesses that service the mills and contractors would shrink or close.

The latest jobs figures for the Bega Valley Shire Council area show that from 2011-16, the number of employed people increased by 174 (1.3%), so new jobs aren’t readily created. With fewer than 40 extra jobs a year in the BVSC area, despite Mike’s spin on attracting new investment, most young people will continue to leave to find work, or else add to the high youth unemployment rate.

It is deeply concerning to people working in the native forest industry in Mike’s electorate that he seems happy to sacrifice our jobs to progress his eco-political objective of locking up the native forests. Meanwhile, he hangs our future on unidentified new businesses and a boom in eco-tourism.

With “protected”, neglected forests burning in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA, what will it take for Mike and others to realise that forest fuels must be managed and forestry machines are a key part of major fire suppression operations? Fire ravaged forests are not a great eco-tourism drawcard.

Norman Wilton, Bombala

Super scaremongering

Refundable franking credits (otherwise known as dividend imputation) are a refund on taxes that have neither been charged nor paid, somewhat equivalent to double dipping. While this may have been initially meant as an incentive for Australians to invest in the newly established superannuation scheme, this little known loophole which favours the large super funds has been a burden on the budget.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has proposed abolishing franking credit refunds. He is not proposing to abolish franking credits, but simply preventing investors from claiming a cash refund from franking credits that they cannot offset against income tax.

An exception to this will be those who the Labor government terms “pensioners”, who will still be able to access cash refunds from excess dividend imputation credits.

Under the pensioner guarantee, every recipient of an Australian government pension or allowance with individual shareholdings will be protected from the abolition of cash refunds for excess franking credits. Self-managed superannuation funds with at least one pensioner or allowance recipient before 28 March 2018 will also be exempt from the changes.

With a general election looming, the federal government has set up an inquiry into the implications of removing some of these refundable franking credits as proposed by Labor.

The chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Tim Wilson, stated: “The ability for investors including individuals and superannuation funds to claim their full credits is an established feature of our tax system and is core to the financial security of retirees.”

This is the same Tim Wilson who, having campaigned long and hard for the abolition of the Australian Human Rights Commission and describing it as a costly and useless organisation, was prompt to accept from newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott the position of Human Rights Commissioner, along with a substantial pay package.

Hardly the ideal advocate for us small and medium superannuation retirees.

Bernard Lagarenne, Merimbula

Political viewpoints

With the state election called for March 23 and a federal election not far behind that, it’s expected letter writers will be using this column to express political views.

We welcome all letters on a variety of topics. However, from this week through to the election, we are asking all who choose to make a submission on a political topic to declare any party membership or allegiances to be published with their letter.

This makes it fair for all readers.

As always, letters are published at the editor’s discretion and may be edited for length or legal reasons.

Graeme Pratt, of Lochiel, dresses to impress for the recent Australia Day Float in Merimbula. Picture: Rachel Mounsey

Graeme Pratt, of Lochiel, dresses to impress for the recent Australia Day Float in Merimbula. Picture: Rachel Mounsey