Passing Bull 293 – Anonymous letters

ASIC has behaved badly enough to get me to send it the letter set out below.  ASIC is the body charged with seeing that companies act responsibly in doing business – although if you put it as starkly as that to someone in authority there, you might induce a serious nervous breakdown.  You would certainly be exposed to a nervous walking back from accepting any such responsibility. 

About forty years ago, I chaired the council of a government school.  We had to formulate a mission statement.  Harmless tripe.  I suggested that the first object of the school was to teach children reading, writing and arithmetic.  Bonzer.  The staff loved it.  Until they spoke to the union.  Kerboom!  Some bastard might measure that!  (And catch us.) 

When I suggested that the staff might be responsible for seeing a policy of uniforms adopted, the message came back from Union HQ that I might be shot for treason – quietly, behind the shelter shed.  I am ashamed to say that I gave up.  But I do notice that the kids are now in uniform.  Presumably the anguish of parents on the verge of a nervous breakdown prevailed over neuroses of the union.

We the people must rise up against receiving from government threats in anonymous letters.  Like the ‘Telstra Team’.  (What colours are the jerseys of that team?)  When a bank bounced a cheque, I got a robotic note from the ‘Dishonour Team.’  Think about that.  We expect this crude rudeness from protected monopolies like banks and Telstra.  But from people in government who are there to serve us because we pay their wages and they work for us?

The trouble is that over the past two generations, both political parties, state and federal, have presided over the annihilation of an independent civil service.  We have jettisoned the Westminster model of government.  And we are paying a dreadful price.  We have to deal with robots and anonymous agents who refuse to accept responsibility.  They will not even show their faces.  And this just adds to the decline of courtesy and the fall of tolerance and restraint in our public life – and our general moral decay and loss of enjoyment in life.

This petty nastiness descended into downright madness about five years ago.  I was waiting on a cheque from the tax office (ATO) for franking credits for my super fund.  One arrived – for about the amount, $13,000 – but it was sent to me in error.  I rang the ATO.  Can you tell me where I should send it?  Yes.  In writing.  Hang on – not sure about that.  Well, I won’t send it.  Well then, we will come after you.  (They were the words.)  Well, presumably when you do, you will tell me where to send the cheque. 

This was from the ATO – who police the auditing of a superfund, and who do not want a written paper trail.  What kind of mindless, soulless fear engenders this nonsense?  Some months later, I got an apology from a nice lady at the ATO.  But only over the phone.  Not in writing.  ‘Sorry’ is not in vogue with her political masters.

If an agent of government wishes to impose an obligation on me to pay money to the government, the least I can require is that it does so over the signature of a real person with authority to accept responsibility for the lawfulness of the demand.

That is one step we can take.  We can require them to say who they are.

Another step is to involve our MPs.  God only knows how sad most people are about the performance of the major parties and the political leaders in this country now, but most of our MPs are decent people who try to do the right thing. 

Some people are scarred for life after dealing with Centrelink.  I am one of them.  My Gov and Vic Roads are equally infamous.  It is just bedlam at Fines Victoria.  These outfits have a hellish heartlessness about them.   People go into them and are never seen again – sane.  A few years ago, I applied to Centrelink for a Commonwealth Health Card.  There is one issue.  Did my income exceed $X?  After three visits to Castlemaine and three to Bendigo, all up about twenty hours of insulting inanity, I told my federal MP that I was not complaining – yet.  A card turned up in the mail 48 hours later.  No letter – just the card. 

For about sixteen years presiding over a state tax tribunal, I may be said to have held the keys to the State Exchequer – how is some Muslim migrant, distant aboriginal, or fading widow expected to cope with these anonymous robots and clones?  The obvious answer is that they are not, and that the Leviathan will crush enough blood and money out of them to maintain a steady cash flow to the Exchequer. 

That is not the way our governments should work.  That is the Russian or the Chinese model.

At some point we must ask – how did we manage to sell ourselves so short – and give away our heritage?  I know something of the history of that heritage.  It goes back one millennium, but it can be lost in one generation.  Just look at the attack on the Capitol in Washington earlier this year and the idiocy of those MPs being seen with mindless cowards and thugs in Melbourne the other day.  Over 900 years, our constitutional history has so often boiled down just to this: how and when can government ask us for money?

Victorians of the world unite.  You have nothing to lose but your chains!

Letter to ASIC

Margaret Boothman,

Senior Manager Registry Services,

ASIC

Locked Bag 5000

Gippsland Mail Centre, 3841.

Dear Madam

Phaedo ACN 120 213 229; Account 22 120213229

I have your letter of 10 November. 

In my letter of 20 October – see below – I advised of a change of address and I said that ASIC should be ashamed of itself for demanding money by menaces.

In your letter, you now say I need fill in a form for my change of address and you appear to contend that the penalties are still owing.  At least you do not say the contrary.

The fee was not for any form of service.  It is a fee – or tax.  On my small super fund which will I hope keep me off a pension.  Although I have paid more than enough in tax over fifty years.

Although your signature appears under the letter, it must surely have come from a robot.

What is the Commonwealth of Australia saying to a taxpayer who pays your wages?

Are you saying that although I have notified you of my change of address, that I must now jump the counter and do your filing for you?  That I should volunteer my time as a civil servant?

Are you saying that a delay of two months and five days in paying a fee of $55 warrants the imposition of a penalty of more than five times that amount?  During a time of national pandemic and emergency when no-one could rely on the post?

Do you agree that if a business that ASIC watches over sought to act in that predatory fashion, it would be the job of ASIC to run the mongrels out of town – Pronto, Tonto?

Yours truly,

Geoffrey Gibson,

Prior letter

Dear ASIC

Phaedo ACN 120 213 229; Account 22 120213229

A robot has sent my super fund a bill for S399 – a fee of $55 plus penalties.  I have paid the $55.  You should be ashamed of yourselves for letting a robot demand money with menaces.

I would be glad if a human being could acknowledge the change of address to that below.

Yours truly

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