A BUSH HOLIDAY IS MOST EFFECTIVE VACCINE FOR COVID19

Heritage listed bridge
Heritage listed Dickabram Bridge over the Mary River

Helen and I decided to go bush last week for a change of scenery and an escape, mentally and physically, from COVID19.

We achieved this by signing up as travellers with NATURE BOUND AUSTRALIA, a unique bush touring operation that is very professionally owned and managed by our friends, John and Ros Thompson.

For a moderate fee covering their time and all costs, they take couples like us out into the country in their comfortable four-wheel drive for a highly personalised bush experience that is based on relaxed chats on heritage, history, environment, natural capital and good physical and mental health.

We chose how many days we wanted to go on tour with them and agreed on an itinerary after we had interesting advice from them about the many options that rural Australia offers. None of our chosen destinations had yet experienced COVID19.

Our itinerary took us on back roads through delightfully small communities and our accommodation was in bed and breakfast homes on farming and grazing properties, with other meals at wineries and quaint cafes in interesting places.

Creekbend B&B
Creekbend B&B

John and Ros are a huge source of knowledge about local history right back to the dreamtime of indigenous culture and spirituality, their deep attachment to the land and connecting it to the advent of European culture.

We looked at the impact of civilisation on the environment and the way in which we all consume our natural capital without being aware of it. A fascinating experience.

Occasionally, we got out of phone range, but always managed to connect with Wi-Fi regularly.

The end result of it all was a refreshed mind, more stored knowledge of our superb continent & a happy attitude towards preserving its wellbeing and our own.

We got our money’s worth and more.

Next year, we will line up again because we know that, in essence, a good bush holiday is all about reconnecting to nature and the guiding restorative power it has on our lives.

You can contact the Thompsons on their website natureboundaustralia.com. It will be one of your more productive contacts.

FULLY FRANKED MUST BE FRANK AND FAIR

It is beyond dispute that Bill Shorten is correct when he states that a cash refund of franking credits on investments should be claimed only by a taxpayer.

What is in dispute is the timing and manner in which he intends to legislate changes to current taxation laws on those credits.

His planned legislation must be changed to exempt all shares purchased prior to 30 June, 2019. This will give retirees the same privileges that he has stated that he will grant to those affected by his changes to taxation benefits relating to negative gearing and capital gains.

To deny this, will mean that he will be declaring that property developers are more worthy citizens than retirees and deserve privileges that are to be denied to retirees. Continue reading “FULLY FRANKED MUST BE FRANK AND FAIR”

TRUST FADES AWAY

The Royal Commission on Banking has stirred Australians to the very core of our being.

It has convinced us that TRUST no longer exists in our nation. Our sense of security is severely diminished, particularly among Senior Australians.

This is understandable as, once upon a time, our local bank manager was a highly respected citizen. He was trusted to give solid advice and not give us loans we had no hope of paying back or credit cards we do not really need.

He was also heavily involved in community life in a high profile way.

Then, he disappeared from public view.

Now, it is almost impossible to find a local bank manager even if we go to a bank. We enter an atmosphere where the message is that they don’t want us there. We must phone a ‘friendly’ relationship manager whom we track down after have pressed about a dozen buttons. We get a different person every time we call and she is only interested in our number, not our name.

It’s very sad that this grand old asset of Australian life has passed away, a killer culture having replaced it. Continue reading “TRUST FADES AWAY”

ASSISTED DYING – A SIMPLE CHOICE

I am grateful for the gift of life that has been mine and I hope that I have managed to make a good contribution to the society in which I live.

This being so, I don’t want to live if a time arises when I have no quality of life. At this point, I want out immediately, and if there are no laws authorising Voluntary Euthanasia in Queensland where I live, then I fully intend to do everything I can to bring on a good heart attack.

I do not want to lie in bed like a vegetable and cause my family to make endless visits to my bedside to see someone who is simply not me, just an object of pity.

I want them to remember me as an active and happy achiever who enjoyed their company. Their last sight of me must not be awful.

And I want to save the nursing home fees so the money can be used to give my grandkids a great start in life.

Clearly, the best outcome is for the Queensland Government to make it legal for me to voluntarily take a tablet. Continue reading “ASSISTED DYING – A SIMPLE CHOICE”

WARPED WELFARE WAILING

Contrary to what we are told by politicians and the media, the cost of welfare is not a major element among the issues that we face in achieving and sustaining the financial viability of Australia.

Currently, the crippling costs to the economy are –

Corporate handouts and concessions.

Tax Avoidance, particularly by multi-national corporations.

Negative Gearing.

The costs of Direct Action on the environment which should be paid by a tax on polluters.

Gross waste and inefficiency with Defence.

Superannuation tax havens.

A hugely bloated Public Service.

Enormous duplication costs between Federal, State and Local Governments.

The totally unnecessary costs of perpetuating racism at Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island

Added to these will be the proposed tax cuts which are based on the blatant lie that the benefits will trickle down from the rich to the poor. It never has and it never will.

Nevertheless, too many politicians have always believed that there are lots of votes to be won by belting citizens who are old, handicapped, unemployed or homeless. So, they commit perjury every day as they blatantly dig deep to reach the darkest elements of the voting public. Continue reading “WARPED WELFARE WAILING”

PENSION WITHOUT POLITICS

At Budget time every year, and at every election, Australia’s Age Pensioners take an unwarranted political and social pounding.

They are accused of being an intolerable burden on younger taxpayers who are concerned that most pensioners may be welfare cheats.

The cynical aspect of it all are that their accusers are mostly tax evaders who constantly cry out for more corporate welfare such as tax cuts, subsidies and low interest rates.

Nevertheless, the fact is that the Age Pension today amounts to a payout of 45 billion dollars a year, a figure that will double by 2030 as more Australians grow older and take a lot longer to die.

The question for us all is how we finance it without sending oldies to the gas chambers as some fascists would like to do.

We can start by taking an objective look at the current situation and work out how to turn it into a positive.

The Age Pension is indisputably inadequate, very close to the poverty line, and has been for a long time. Continue reading “PENSION WITHOUT POLITICS”

Federal Government must do more for growing population of ageing Australians

GREY POWER article in Courier Mail QWeekend, October 1-2,2016 By GRANTLEE KIEZA

It’s high noon in Canberra as Everald Compton gets ready to march toward the microphone and into ­battle at the National Press Club. A few weeks short of his 85th birthday, he’s still hitting his stride. As Compton adjusts his blue and white diamond-­patterned tie, straightens the jacket of his dark blue power suit and runs a hand over his shining white hair, there’s a touch of the statesman about him.

He is a veteran campaigner who has been shaking the hands of prime ministers since 1956 and twisting their arms for the past 40 years, fighting for increases in the pension and spreading his message that grey is gold – that elderly Australians are a priceless asset.

Of all the prime ministers he has met, Bob Menzies and Gough Whitlam were the most commanding, while at the other end of the spectrum he thought Billy McMahon was a “silly little bloke” – the worst prime minister he had ­encountered until he met Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.

He hopes to channel some of Menzies and Gough today. Watching on, the moderator at the Press Club address, David Speers, Sky Channel’s political editor, remarks: “When Everald Compton is on the warpath, both sides of politics need to watch out.”
Compton casts an eye over the lunchtime audience in the large dining room and as he takes centre stage behind the lectern and adjusts the discreet hearing aid in his left ear, he outlines the reasons why Malcolm Turnbull not only has to appoint a special minister for ageing Australians but why the whole age pension system needs overhauling. There are 1.5 million aged pensioners in Australia, he says, and a third of them are living on or below the ­poverty line, mashing their food because they can’t afford dental care or missing meals so they can pay their rent.
“The age pension in Australia is clearly inadequate,” he says, “and the Government of Australia has to face up to it.”

He holds up a report labelled “The Adequacy of the Age Pension in Australia” that he and a team of researchers have been working on for 12 months. He says it should have been titled “The Inadequacy of the Age Pension”.
Back in 1908, Compton says, Alfred Deakin and Andrew Fisher, who both served as prime ministers that year, “got together and set the age for the pension at 65 because that’s the age when they reckoned most people would be dead, and they were going to give the age pension to anyone who survived”. He says the pension rate was then £26 a year ­because that’s all the government could afford.
“There was no other scientific calculation involved. Down the years governments have made adjustments on whether they need to win an election, but they have never done an economic study to see what it really costs a ­pensioner to live.” Compton says many pensioners are ­giving up their phones and their computers because they can’t afford the $40 monthly bill – “so we are entering an age of technology where pensioners are going to be cut off from essential medical services”.
For the past year, Compton’s not-for-profit group the Longevity Innovation Hub, along with Australia’s oldest charity, the Benevolent Society, and the research think tank Per Capita, have been researching the needs of ­pensioners, holding focus groups and public meetings around the country. His research shows the need for “an independent tribunal set up by an act of Parliament that takes the whole pension out of the budget and out of polit­ical and election places”. Parliamentarians, he says, have a similar tribunal to ­decide their own salaries and never question the findings. Making the pension adequate and fair, he says, would cost the Federal Government $2 billion, but it could save $8 billion a year by cutting out middle-class welfare and negative gearing. Even if that meant a ­decline in the value of the home at Aspley, about 13km north of Brisbane’s CBD, where he and his wife Helen, 78, live, Compton says it’s a bullet he’ll take for the team.
We’re sitting in the study of that neat, lowset Aspley home two days after Compton’s speech. He’s behind the desk where, with a tumbler of good Scotch beside him and one finger working tirelessly, he tapped out a ­biography of his hero, the Reverend John Flynn. He wrote The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes while winding down from a schedule that includes fighting for the pensioners, consulting on an inland railway from Melbourne to Darwin, writing regularly on his blog, tweeting voraciously under the handle @EVERALDATLARGE, advising on the cattle business, and raising funds for the Uniting Church in Aspley, where he and Helen are both elders.

Already on the day Everald talks to The Courier-Mail, he has had breakfast in Brisbane with Cloncurry cattleman Don McDonald, whose properties cover a land mass bigger than Belgium, and who is backing the inland railway. He ­followed that with a public meeting with pensioners at Mt Gravatt, in Brisbane’s south, hosted by the State Member for Mansfield, Ian Walker. Then it was lunch with a ­researcher to discuss affordable housing.
Helen is constantly amazed at her husband’s workload but Compton swears Flynn’s spirit is beside him, urging him to fight for disadvantaged Australians.
“Flynn was always a hero from my earliest childhood memories,” he says. “My mother took me to Sunday school at age three and I’ve been going to church ever since.”
Compton was born in Toowoomba and grew up in the logging villages of Linville and Monsildale in the Brisbane Valley. When the local mill closed, his father, Herbert, moved the family to Toowoomba for work at the KR smallgoods factory.
Herbert was descended from a British convict and Compton’s mother, Thelma, was the granddaughter of a ­Lutheran missionary sent from Germany with the charter to “remove sin from the continent of Australia”. John Flynn became Compton’s idol and exemplar.
“The sheer scope of what he achieved is staggering,” he says. “Back in 1912 the Presbyterian Church said to him, ‘we are going to make you the head of the Australian Inland Mission to look after the bush’ – which was 80 per cent of the continent. They thought he was going to build churches but he went out to spread the word by building a mantle of safety. He built hospitals, started the Flying Doctors and School of the Air. He was a true nation-builder and we don’t have nation-builders like him any more.”
Compton says writing the book kept his brain ­constantly firing. “I believe someone who remains active like me will live five years longer,” he says. “The more ­people who keep working into their later years means less money the government has to find for pensions. And the longer a person works, the more money is going into their super fund so they have a better life.
“I’m on a board of directors of a cattle company that I have a minor interest in. All the others on the board are 40, and I’m almost 85. They keep referring to my experience, and that situation should be replicated all over Australia. Every company with young turks should have an old guy on the board, provided they are willing to learn new ways.”

At the National Press Club, Jo Toohey, chief executive of the Benevolent Society, follows Compton to the stage and tells the audience that for many pensioners, the daily challenges of medical bills, paying rent or hiring tradespeople are “hugely amplified”.
“This has an enormous effect on their health and wellbeing.” Out of their pension, she says – a maximum basic rate of $797.90 a fortnight for a single person and $1203 for couples – they have to pay the basics first, so even a dental visit becomes “an extraordinary event”. Australia’s minimum wage is nearly double the age ­pension. The lowest-paid Member of Parliament receives almost 10 times the amount. “The poverty line in Australia is $851 a fortnight,” Toohey says. “If you’re a single person receiving the age pension without any rent assistance ­because you own your own home – which is quite possibly falling down around you – then your living income is $56 below the poverty line. That’s one-third of age pensioners.”
Many pensioners, she says, switch off their hot water for months because they can’t afford the electricity. “We are a rich country, the fifth-richest in the world (according to OECD wealth-distribution figures) yet we allow a third of our pensioners to live at or below the ­poverty line.”
Compton watches his confederate speak. He has the look of a general commanding troops in attack.
John Flynn knew how to build partnerships with people who could help him, Compton says. He had Hudson Fysh, the founder of Qantas, and fundraisers such as cattleman Sidney Kidman, farm machinery manufacturer H. V. McKay, and author Jeannie Gunn.
Compton started his partnership with Helen when he was 25 and president of the Presbyterian Fellowship for Brisbane. He was at a church camp at Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast. He made a speech to farewell a missionary heading to Vanuatu, cracked a joke and saw a girl in the crowd smile at the remark.
That was 60 years ago. They have four children – Wendy, 57, a high-school teacher in Brisbane; Robyn, 55, a dietitian in Melbourne; Paul, 52, a banker in London, and Lyndel, 49, a cancer nurse at Swindon, also in England. Each of his four children has two of his or her own.
Compton worked at the smallgoods factory, then the Commonwealth Bank in Toowoomba, and studied at night to become an accountant. When he was 24 he heard that the Presbyterian Church was looking for a fundraiser to help build St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital on Wickham Terrace in inner Brisbane’s Spring Hill.

He was so successful at tapping wealthy old Scotsmen on the shoulder that he soon set up his own fundraising company, which became Everald Compton International. He ran it for 40 years, establishing offices in Brisbane, Wellington in New Zealand, Johannesburg, Vancouver and London. He raised money for politicians across the spectrum – Gough Whitlam, John Howard, Bob Hawke and Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He met Joh’s future wife, Flo, when she was Florence Gilmour and teaching bible classes at St Andrew’s on Creek St, in Brisbane’s CBD. He ran campaigns for the restoration of English cathedrals – at Ely, Worcester, ­Gloucester, Winchester and Portsmouth – and raised money for South Africa’s Progressive Federal Party, which eventually helped to free Nelson Mandela.
All along Compton wanted to help a group in Australia he saw as being especially needy and in 1976 was one of the founders of National Seniors Australia, which boasts 250,000 members.
Since then, he has lobbied prime ministers for a better deal for older Australians and built three retirement ­villages – Compton Gardens at Aspley, Comptons at Caboolture, and Brookland Village at southside Sunnybank.
In 2009 he negotiated with then-federal treasurer Wayne Swan, his local member, an increase to the single pension of about $33, but he says much more is needed now to provide the elderly with a decent standard of living.
Compton gives a series of media interviews after his address to the National Press Club and talks over his ideas with Labor powerbroker Anthony Albanese. He ends the night tweeting: “Quiet scotch after 11 hours with #Pension Study Team … A small step towards justice for pensioners”.
Back at home with Helen in Aspley, he’s preparing for an open day at the nearby Bald Hills mosque to strengthen ties with his neighbourhood’s Muslim community. It is a rapidly changing world. He recently tweeted: “As committed Elder of my #Church can I say we have no right to say a word re #samesexmarriage in light of our infamous record on #childabuse”.
He has little faith in the present government, saying that he is “terribly disappointed” with Malcolm Turnbull. “I worked with Malcolm during the Republican movement in 1999. He was arrogant then, but decisive. He’d make snap decisions and you couldn’t contest them. He alienated so many people. But as Prime Minister, he is now so indecisive.”

Compton says the first Federal Budget he heard was delivered by Harold Holt more than half a century ago and the government’s funding for pensioners has not improved since then.
He has dealt with every prime minister since Menzies. “I had a fair bit to do with Whitlam,” he says. “He was an enormously impressive personality – the problem was he would imagine these great things but couldn’t get them done. He had some dreadful hillbillies with him like Jim Cairns and Rex Connor, who dragged him down. Malcolm Fraser was a very ordinary prime minister, and Bob Hawke was the best negotiator I’d met until Julia Gillard.
“Bob had a marvellous ability to be everybody’s friend. Paul Keating had the best economic brain but also an ability to make people dislike him. His ideas – such as compulsory superannuation – were brilliant.
“John Howard was probably the best grassroots pol­itician I dealt with. Old John could smell trouble coming a mile away and the Howard era was the most prosperous in my lifetime. We had 11 good years with him at the helm.”
Compton says he has “a very low opinion of Kevin Rudd” and cheered his downfall. “You never knew what he was going to do next. He was one of the most intelligent blokes I’ve dealt with but he couldn’t deal with people.”
Julia Gillard, he says, had a poor public image, like an old schoolmarm, “but one on one she was superb – a great negotiator. She had an attractive personality, which didn’t come through to the public”.
Tony Abbott, he says, was “totally out of his depth … a very rigid thinker driven by religion and hard-right ­ideology” – and he says Turnbull is only surviving because there is no natural successor.
Compton says the present Federal Government must do more for the growing population of ageing Australians. “By 2050 there will be 50,000 Australians over 100,” he says, “and the largest population group in Australia will be aged 85-100. The Government seems totally oblivious. Turnbull only has a Minister for Aged Care – that represents only about one per cent of the ageing question.”
The clock on Compton’s wall chimes and reminds him of more meetings he has scheduled.
When he gets a chance to relax with a smoky, peaty ­single-malt Scotch, he’s working on a new book about Australia’s Federation. He says it is “staggeringly stupid” that such a wealthy country as Australia still treats its oldest ­citizens so poorly.
Last week he told his audience in Canberra: “The Government hopes that by three o’clock this afternoon everyone will have forgotten about this, and I just want to let them know that in whatever short years I may have left on this planet, I’m going to relentlessly pursue them. We’ve come to the point in the history of Australia where the ­pension has to come out of politics and enter the area of human justice.
“As Gough Whitlam would have said if he were up here: ‘It’s time’.”

Outback Magazine comments on my unusual book about Flynn of the Inland

BOOK REVIEW – OUTBACK MAGAZINE ISSUE 108 Aug/Sep 2016

A new take on John Flynn

This is perhaps the most unusual book ever written about John Flynn, the legend of the inland who died in 1951. In addition to helping create the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Flynn built bush hospitals all over the continent as the head of the Australian Inland Mission, and founded the School of the Air.

Author Everald Compton, 84, has been an unashamed admirer of Flynn and his simple, practical theology since his schooldays. “Flynn’s role as my spiritual mentor is my prime motivation in writing this account of his life,” Everald writes. The 250-page work takes in Flynn’s “enormous impact on Australian life and his redefining of what it means to be a follower of Jesus of Nazareth and how a good Christian still makes many mistakes.”

Everald’s unusual style means the whole book is written as a series of conversations that Flynn may have had along his life’s journey. Everald says that Flynn liked nothing better than to have a yarn. “This book is my attempt to write an account of Flynn’s life in a way that I think he would like to have it told,” he says.

Most of the characters are real, although a handful are fictional, and the result is a flowing text somewhere between an historical novel and a biography. There are a few places where the dialogue becomes a little clunky, but on the whole it’s an enjoyable, thoughtful and insightful book that reminds us of the crucial, long-lasting legacy of John Flynn.

Discounted copies are available for churches and charities to aid fundraising efforts.

“The man on the twenty dollar notes:
Flynn of the inland”
Everald Compton
$25
0407 721 710
https://manonthetwentydollarnotes.com

D-DAY FOR THE AGE PENSION

It is an indisputable fact that pensioners in Australia have been underpaid for more than a century. Nevertheless, little mention of it is being made in the Australian Election of 2016. In truth, there is a defining silence surrounding it for reasons that totally escape me.

Be this as it may, the time has come to correct this huge blot on the humanitarian record of our nation, particularly as a UN Report has stated that 50% of Australian Pensioners live on or below the poverty line. This is intolerable in a prosperous nation. Continue reading “D-DAY FOR THE AGE PENSION”

EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT

We are two weeks into the 2016 Australian Election and I have waited in vain to hear any policies of vision and conviction from either the Coalition, the Opposition or the Greens that will stir my passion as a proud Australian who wants to build and expand the quality of our nation.

Sadly, I have stared at a barren waste.

Our politicians have missed the heart beat of the nation. They are talking to the old fashioned electorate of yesteryear that no long exists. Continue reading “EVERALD’s ELECTION EDICT”

2016 – Turnbull year of destiny

My holiday reading included a very readable book called Born to Rule, an unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull by veteran journalist Paddy Manning. I enjoyed it immensely.

Paddy makes it clear he is not a Turnbull fan, but he treats the Prime Minister in as unbiased a manner as is possible in politics and journalism. However, it is interesting that, in the end, he acknowledges that Turnbull has what it takes to be a great leader of the nation if he conquers a few idiosyncrasies. Continue reading “2016 – Turnbull year of destiny”

Century of Age Pension guessing

Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin met at the Melbourne Club for lunch in 1908 to agree on legislation that would give Australians an Age Pension for the first time. The figure that they chose for the initial pension was the amount they reckoned the government could afford, not what pensioners actually needed.

Since then, every government has calculated the pension the same way. Its time for us to work out what it should actually be. The best way to do it will be to establish an independent Age Pension Authority and do it with a unanimous bipartisan vote of Parliament. Continue reading “Century of Age Pension guessing”

AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING

When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister he made an extraordinary decision not to appoint a Minister for Ageing even though the entire planet faces a huge crisis in which the population is ageing faster than at any time in the history of humanity. Continue reading “AUSTRALIA URGENTLY NEEDS A MINISTER FOR AGEING”

The Superannuation Revolution

(An expanded version of my earlier article entitled The Use and Abuse of Superannuation)

Even those who do not like him will acknowledge that Australia owes a huge debt of gratitude to Paul Keating.

During his term as Prime Minister two decades ago, he established compulsory superannuation despite a hostile Opposition that declared it to be a step towards socialism.

A few weeks ago, I chaired a Per Capita function in Sydney at which Keating reminded the capacity crowd that the original intention of his superannuation legislation was for everyone to accumulate as much Super as possible thereby ensuring that, in all of our retirement years, we could enjoy a lifestyle better than that which is the lot of someone who struggled to survive on the age pension.

The Keating plan was for every one of us to draw down all of our superannuation capital and income within our anticipated lifetime. It was never ever intended that anyone would leave their Super as a legacy to their family. Such a legacy is, in reality, a taxpayer funded gift. Continue reading “The Superannuation Revolution”

THE USE AND ABUSE OF SUPERANNUATION

(For an expanded version of this article see also “The Superannuation Revolution”)

Australia owes a huge debt of gratitude to Paul Keating.

He established compulsory superannuation two decades ago despite a hostile Opposition that declared it to be a step towards socialism.

A few weeks ago, I chaired a Per Capita meeting in Sydney at which Keating reminded the capacity crowd that the original intention of his superannuation legislation was for everyone to accumulate as much Super as possible thereby ensuring that, in all of our retirement years, we could enjoy a lifestyle better than that which is the lot of someone on the age pension. Continue reading “THE USE AND ABUSE OF SUPERANNUATION”

Wise Young – Partnerships to build a great Australia

There are far too many bright young Australians who are unemployed.

Many of them have visionary ideas for new and innovative business ventures, but are thwarted by a lack of capital, experience and opportunity.

There are many older Australians who want to keep working after 65, but they are denied the opportunity to stay in the market place by outright discrimination. Continue reading “Wise Young – Partnerships to build a great Australia”

Blueprint for an Ageing Australia launched today – obtain your copy!

My launch speech to the National Press Club in Canberra

(Complete with links to your download copy of the Blueprint)

People are growing older and are doing so at a far greater rate than ever before in the history of the world. All nations now face a considerable social and economic revolution as a result, and Australia cannot hope to be an exception, as most of us can confidently expect a lifespan of at least 90 years, with many thousands about to achieve their century.
In ages past, war and disease prevented most people from reaching old age, but, thankfully, this is not likely to happen on a massive scale ever again.
If we act now, we can ensure that we will turn ageing into a significant social and economic asset, not a liability, and the Blueprint for an Ageing Australia that we present to the nation today strives to do exactly this.
Let me briefly outline the key recommendations.

PRIME MINISTERIAL LEADERSHIP
The challenge of ageing is so great that the enormous task of turning it into a powerhouse for the nation must be the responsibility of no less a leader than the Prime Minister.
There must be a Minister for Ageing within his office who has cabinet status and implements the PM’s ageing policies, co-ordinating action across all departments, as well as with State and Local Governments, community institutions, First Australians and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES
Older Australians are a rapidly growing economic force in the marketplace, but they are largely ignored by providers of goods and services who fail to observe that they have special needs that can be a huge source of sales income for them. One day soon, the ageing market will be THE market. By meeting their needs in innovative ways, the economy will be transformed.
Of special note is the opportunity to export ageing services to the world. Every nation has a huge ageing problem and few are currently equipped to face it. Australia has the expertise to provide the services and products that will take them through this demographic crisis. We also have the capital to invest in all the social infrastructure they will need.
Austrade must lead the campaign, as the very considerable export income we can earn from this will more than cover the losses we are sustaining as the result of the end of the mining boom and the collapse of the car industry.
Another huge opportunity is to create a business environment in which Seniors can become entrepreneurs if they plan to do so well before they reach the traditional retirement age. They have a unique scope to take-up totally new business and professional endeavours, for which they can acquire new skills to create a second career.
To make sure that this happens, we will initiate steps to establish a Senior Entrepreneurs Institute to foster this initiative and provide practical assistance to those who take it up, including help in finding investors. The work of this Institute has the potential to greatly enhance the economy, and significantly expand the small business sector, as well as providing a challenging lifestyle for thousands of senior entrepreneurs who will bring enormous wisdom and vision to their new projects.

MATURE AGE EMPLOYMENT
Discrimination against Older Workers who want to remain in, or re-enter, the workforce is rampant, and is a blot on the traditional Australian ethic of giving everyone a fair go. As the result of this archaic attitude, Australia loses billions of dollars in productivity every year, while it adds unnecessary billions to welfare rolls. It seems incredible to say it, but it is a fact that thousands of employers in Australia actually think that when someone reaches 65, and at precisely midnight on this very day, something clicks over in an employee’s brain and that person instantly becomes geriatric.
Sadly, all three levels of government are even worse offenders in this area of discrimination than corporate Australia. A social revolution to remove this primitive outlook is long overdue.
Worst of all are State Governments who discriminate enormously by denying Work Cover to senior employees, as they are unfairly deemed to be great risks. They must take immediate action to change this, as it is the greatest deterrent to the successful expansion of Mature Age Employment, especially as private insurers of senior workers charge premiums which are unjustifiably exorbitant.
Despite these roadblocks, the Blueprint particularly recommends expanding investment in programs of skills training to enable older workers to keep up to date in a rapidly and constantly changing world.

PHILANTHROPY
Despite the economic gloom fostered by too many politicians, Australians have never been wealthier and there is a particularly stable middleclass, as well as an ever-expanding group of the wealthy.
We now have the potential to involve thousands of Senior Australians in establishing Charitable Trusts and Foundations, which will work for Australia long after they have departed and be a powerhouse for the long-term funding of education, science, health, homelessness, etc. Those who have financial means that are not as great as others can participate in a similar manner by opening personal accounts within community foundations who will competently manage their philanthropy in the years ahead.
We have made specific recommendations about this, and will establish a Golden Givers Foundation to promote and manage this positive enhancement of community life with the active co-operation of Australia’s banks.
Above all, we advocate a strong dose of encouragement for the many thousands of volunteers who work for our nation’s charities — most of whom are Seniors. They cannot afford the heavy premiums that insurance companies charge them for protection against legal actions that stem from accidents. Governments must protect and foster them through adequate legislation.
They must also be protected from the excessive and unreasonable health and safety regulations that stop them from actively helping the needy in basic ways.
Similarly, there are some trade unions that complain that volunteers are doing honorary jobs that a paid employee should undertake. They need an injection of humanity into their way of thinking.
The entire spirit of volunteerism is at stake unless governments act with urgency.

ENABLING ENVIRONMENTS
Brian Howe will outline to you in detail our recommendations on age-friendly housing, of which there is an enormous shortage, particularly in the rental market.
He will comment on the environment in which Seniors aspire to live, and the huge investment that will be needed to encourage us to leave our cars at home and use public transport for our own comfort and safety, as well as for the benefit of the community as a whole.
These are issues that must be faced with vigour, knowing that positive action on them will create many new jobs.

RETIREMENT INCOMES
This is the most contentious issue of them all. It is the one that creates the most public debate and about which there is the greatest uncertainty in the minds of millions of retirees.
Many reports on retirement incomes and outcomes have been undertaken and more are currently underway.
In particular, let me recommend that you read the excellent report on this subject published two weeks ago by Per Capita researcher, Emily Millane, who is here today.
It faces many of the crucial issues that governments, now and in the future, must determine with political bravery. These challenges are unavoidable and will not go away. They relate to many crucial matters, some of which are retirement and access ages for pensions and superannuation, a fair calculation of pensions and planning to ensure Superannuation will last until people reach 90 years of age, together with how they may have to be taxed to avoid excessive tax impositions on our grandchildren.
A totally new retirement incomes policy is needed right now and, once legislated, must be left alone, as constant tinkering with it creates enormous and unnecessary tension in the lives of Seniors. We will not reach a satisfactory situation with either pensions or superannuation until all current cut-and-paste legislation is put through the shredder — an event that should have happened a decade ago.

TECHNOLOGY
The ageing of the population will reach its peak around 2050. But, none of us can accurately envisage where technology will take us to by then. Nevertheless, we can be certain that it will be a vastly different world to that of today, and we must prepare for it as from today.
Most Seniors are not computer literate or skilled, so we have recommended a considerable investment in a national campaign to enable most of us to stay in touch with the world and prosper as the result, but education in technology must go on for decades or we will be left behind.
My fellow panel member, Neville Roach, who has spent a lifetime in technology, has done excellent work in writing this section of the Blueprint. I am particularly impressed with the powerful comments he has made on Telehealth, as this will be an indispensable factor in improving health services and reducing their costs, provided that ample funds are allocated now for its research, development and application.

WELLBEING
Gill Lewin will cover the vital subject of Wellbeing.
A healthy nation will enjoy a happier old age. It will also ensure that the huge health costs of ageing will reduce dramatically. But, it is pointless to invest only in the wellbeing of the Seniors of today. It must commence 50 years earlier than that, and will require all medical professionals having a greater knowledge of gerontology for any programme of wellbeing to be effective.
Especially important will be a national campaign to reduce the prevalence of ageism, which detracts from a mature society.

THE NEXT STEPS
The hard work now begins.
My Panel asks all political parties operating at Federal, State and Local Government levels to give a considered response to this Blueprint, and to invite us to work with them to ensure that it all happens as soon as possible.
But, they will need the support of the business and financial communities, as well as the not-for-profit institutions and the media, if dynamic progress is to be made throughout society in making ageing a positive, not a negative.
We intend to stay with this task for the long haul. We hope that you will too.

THE BEST YEARS
In October, I will reach the numerical age of 83, and I invite you all to give serious consideration to shouting me a wee dram of rare single malt whisky from deep in the highlands of Scotland, one that is at least 25 years old.
On that day, I will once more acknowledge that I have not yet reached my prime.
I joke not.
I firmly believe that I still have the best years of my life ahead of me, as is the case with many thousands of Aussies in their Eighties.
All we ask is that we are given the opportunity to compete with younger Aussies on a level playing field and be given a fair go at proving that we have the wisdom, vision, loyalty and reliability to make a valuable contribution to the life and future of the nation through vibrant inter-generational partnerships.
I invite you to meet me here at the Press Club ten years from now to review what progress we have made in implementing our Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. I have no doubt that I will be here. You all look young and healthy enough to have a reasonable chance of making it here that day also.
As the legendary American singer, Al Jolson, once responded when someone suggested he was getting old and should retire: “You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
May I sign-off by expressing my thanks to Per Capita, especially its team of David Hetherington, Joshua Funder, Emily Millane and Dennis Glover, for their initiative in suggesting to me that we finish this Blueprint as a private sector project, for their sterling work in making it all happen and for their very professional drafting of this report.
My special thanks also to National Seniors Australia for joining the partnership and making available the services of their Productive Ageing Centre for detailed research. The contribution of Michael O’Neill, Sarah Saunders, David Carvosso and Tim Adair has been splendid.
Similarly, the prestigious involvement of National Australia Bank has been wholehearted. They are our major financial contributors, as well as providers of valued economic and commercial data. I particularly acknowledge the talented contribution to the Blueprint by Paula Benson and Helen Brady.
Generous words of thanks are due also to Ashursts as the generous providers of services and facilities across Australia, particularly the contribution of Tony Denholder.
May I make particular mention of the valued assistance of my friend, Professor Graeme Hugo, of the University of Adelaide. I regard him as Australia’s finest demographer.
Thanks also to the many contributors of donations from every part of the nation, as well as the professional input given to us by all those who attended the consultations that we held in every State.
Finally, it has been a great privilege for me to work with my original Panel from our days in Treasury — Brian Howe, Gill Lewin and Neville Roach — as well as a former Panel member, Susan Ryan, of the Human Rights Commission. I especially want to thank Gill for arranging a generous financial contribution from Silver Chain in Western Australia.
Especially, may I thank Wayne Swan and Mark Butler for their decision to commence work on this Blueprint three years ago, and for their continued commitment to the project both in and out of government. They are great Australians.

Yours at large
Everald Compton

You can view a full pdf version of the Blueprint for an Ageing Australia document here.

You can download the document here

Come to the Launch – Blueprint for an Ageing Australia, National Press Club, Canberra, September 3

I am delighted to invite you to join me in Canberra on this important occasion, in which a Panel that I chair will present to the nation a Blueprint on how Australia must plan to meet all the social and economic issues that we face with the rapid and sustained ageing of our population and turn those issues into assets.

You can reserve your place at the luncheon by going to The National Press Club www.npc.org.au and booking online.

The cost of the luncheon is $79.00

I will be the lead speaker, and will be supported by my fellow panellists, Prof. Gill Lewin (Gerontologist) and Brian Howe (former Deputy Prime Minister).

The speeches and question time will be covered by ABC News 24 and Sky Television.

I’m looking forward to saying hello to you in Canberra.

National Press Club, Canberra – Wednesday 3rd September 2014, at 11.30am for 12 Noon.