Missing out on money
In the lead up to the federal and state elections, I've been watching and waiting with interest to see if any infrastructure expenditure was coming the way of long-suffering Narooma and district residents, who have been waiting some time for improvements.
This week, we hear from Bega MP Andrew Constance that more than $700million has been spent or promised in the Bega electorate since 2011.
Tens, even hundreds of millions have been spent or promised for grandiose water parks, four-lane bridges, two new hospitals, roads around Batemans Bay, a performing arts centre, art gallery, and water upgrades in the Bega Valley – the list goes on.
In that time, we've seen one major project in our town – the roundabout in the main street, costing a few million dollars. That's it. No community centre, no arts funding, no nothing.
Narooma residents are a proud and resilient lot. We raise money ourselves for projects here, our pool being a good example.
At the same time, we watch our rates and taxes being lavished on the places that seem to carry weight. It would be churlish to suggest that the fact our state representative and mayor are both Batemans Bay based had anything to do with this.
Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten this week promised $200million for what he described as a new hospital "for the people of Moruya and Batemans Bay". Guess where that will be?
We'll end up travelling even further for emergency medical treatment if they move our hospital north, which I'm prepared to bet my house on is the intent.
I wait with great interest to see if we get anything. The cost of the major repairs needed for our pool $2-3million would be a great start.
Neil Burnside, Narooma
National pecking order
Retiree Bob Ortoo draws $70,000 pa from his Self Managed Superannuation Fund. He also has $6000 in franking credits – ie the amount of company tax already paid on his share dividends – which can be offset against his personal income tax liability.
However, since the $70,000 from his fund is tax free he has no tax liability to claim his franking credits against. What to do? Liberal government to the rescue!
Even though Bob has paid no tax he gets a tax “refund” of $6000 and he desperately needs this to pay for the first class airfares on his annual skiing holiday to Aspen.
Legal? Yes. Fair? This policy costs the budget $5.8billion pa which could otherwise be spent on hospitals, schools, public transport, climate change mitigation etc.
Retiree Edna Average, on the other hand, receives a modest defined benefit pension of $15,000 pa and a modest Centrelink part pension which prior to 2015 was based on a formula established in 1987. The Abbott/Turnbull/Almost Dutton/Morrison government changed the formula in 2015 – with the connivance of the Greens – and Edna's Centrelink part pension was reduced by more than $1000 pa.
(NB: No Parliamentary inquiry into the fairness and impact of this because those affected did not have million dollar Self Managed Superannuation Funds).
Edna, being generous of spirit, reluctantly accepts her lowly place in the national pecking order and that she is contributing to Bob's skiing holiday. Even though struggling with cost of living pressures she is contemplating a possible holiday for herself in Lakes Entrance travelling economy on the V/Line coach.
So a message to the privileged few who are whingeing about losing their divine right to receive a refund of tax they have not paid. Be like Edna, accept it in the national interest and get on with life. (After restructuring your affairs to take advantage of the numerous other loopholes available of course!)