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”

THE PURSUIT OF POWER

Malcolm Turnbull has won the 2016 Australian Election. He got there by the skin of his teeth, but no one can dispute that he is entitled to form a government.

Now, he has to make it all work for the good of Australia and for the sake of his own political future.

What a hell of a task both jobs will prove to be as he has three Opposition leaders – Abbott, Shorten and Joyce, in that order. Continue reading “THE PURSUIT OF POWER”

TAX CUTS & POLITICAL SUICIDE

I respect Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison. They are intelligent, astute Parliamentarians. This makes it difficult for me to understand why they have made tax cuts the cornerstone of their election campaign.

They appear to believe that such cuts will stimulate economic growth and create jobs, but history proves this theory to be a fallacy.

In order to justify this statement, can I suggest to all my readers that you study research reports into tax cuts in USA and Australia over the past fifty years? You will find no economic or social justification for them.

The facts are that every tax cut has created some more billionaires, but few jobs down on Struggle Street. The trickle down effect has never ever trickled down and never will. Of even more concern is that on each occasion there has been a tax cut the national debt has risen. Continue reading “TAX CUTS & POLITICAL SUICIDE”

Tax Reform and the Politics of Fear

There are thousands of laws that provide the basis of governing our nation. Every one of them can be improved in order to meet the needs of a changing world, particularly taxation laws, as they are an out of date mix of temporary political fixes that were deemed necessary to win elections. Continue reading “Tax Reform and the Politics of Fear”

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”

We must face the inevitability of retirement age rising to 70.

Change is forever with us, a clinging certainty from which we cannot hide.

So, the time has come for Australians to accept that, after 106 years of enjoying a Retirement Age of 65, we must face the inevitability of it rising to 70.
Having said this with a strong conviction that it is a right and good thing to do, I totally disagree with the negative manner in which the Australian Government has presented it to us in the 2014 Budget by declaring that there will be economic doom unless we make the change by 2035.
Fear is the weakest form of motivation available to humanity, yet this year’s Budget was riddled with it.

Continue reading “We must face the inevitability of retirement age rising to 70.”

70 is a very young age to retire

When Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin combined together to have a bi-partisan Pension Bill passed through Parliament in 1908, they asked an Actuary for advice on what age most workers could be expected to die.

The actuary did not hesitate to say,

‘The vast majority of them will not make it to 65’.

Fisher and Deakin both knew that the government could not afford a huge pension payout so they set the pension age at 65. Up until that time, all Australians had no option but to work until they died.

Those 65 year olds of 1908 are now the 90 year olds of today as longevity for Australians has increased by 25 years over the century that has passed.

Now, we are faced with the fact that millions of Australians will live to a very old age, kept alive by costly pharmaceutical, medical and hospital expenditure that will cripple the nation along with burgeoning pensions. And, at least a million of us will suffer from Dementia, especially Alzheimers.

A crucial issue is that most Australians will have inadequate superannuation and its poor returns will peter out soon after they reach 80 unless we have a huge increase in contributions – at least 15% from employers, plus far more in personal contributions.

Above all, it will be essential that no one is allowed to access superannuation until they are 70 and taking it as a lump sum must be banned as too many blow it quickly and go on the pension.

However, all of this will be of no avail unless employers start hiring Seniors into the work force.

Too many of them have a policy of not hiring anyone over 50 and the worst offenders of all are governments whose public service regulations force employees to retire early and make it almost impossible for anyone of mature years to apply for a position.

We need laws that require every employer to have at least 10% of their staff who are Seniors or it will be pointless to raise the Pension and Superannuation Age to 70 as most will have to apply for the dole.

All of this means that this nation needs a positive plan to turn ageing into an asset.

We won’t get far with it if we follow the coverage in the Main Stream Media. Headlines like ‘Work till you drop’ trivialise the matter. A more accurate headline would have been ‘Australia is the most overpaid, underworked and uncompetitive nation in the world’.

The most positive and pragmatic thing we can do is to commence action now, particularly in squarely facing up to the important decision to raise the retirement age to 70 as this must happen far sooner than the Productivity Commission has recommended. Every three years, commencing in 2015, we can raise the retirement age by one year.

Side by side, there must be a huge program of preventative health and tele-health to get the nation’s medical bills down, in tandem with an expansion of recreation and tourism industries where Seniors can contribute significantly to economic growth.

In addition, we will need a huge attitude change to growing old as it is a time of life where we can contribute wisdom and experience more than ever before.

Essential to it all will be to diminish our sense of entitlement and acknowledge that  Australia owes us nothing. We owe a lot to Australia for the greatest lifestyle in the world.

If we can become a nation of givers rather than getters, the Ageing Tsunami will lose its sting and we will lead the world in ensuring that we are a land of opportunity for the vision that comes with greying hair.

 

Is Super very Super?

A comment on the explosive election issue of Superannuation

There are few, if any, certainties in life. Nevertheless, I am willing to put significant money on the real possibility that the September Federal Election will be decided by the votes of the rapidly growing ranks of Seniors, many of whom are not happy chappies.

Right now, there are a number of issues that will determine where the Oldies vote will go. One is the desperate shortage of Age Friendly Housing, while another is the blatant discrimination against Seniors who want to stay in the workforce or return to it. However, the most powerful one is the uncertainty and complexity of Superannuation, combined with the poor financial returns that come from it.

Let me lead you through a chat about my view of the basic principles of how a good National Superannuation Program could best be run, without commenting on any details of the complex legislation that has grown-up around it so ridiculously in Australia over two decades. Continue reading “Is Super very Super?”