Avoiding question of who funds retirement

Illustration: Cathy WilcoxCredit:

The discussion on whether an increase in the superannuation guarantee levy will come at the expense of wage increases ignores the question of just who pays for your retirement (‘‘Super slug tipped to stem wages’’, 18/8).

Those who suggest halting the increase from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent claim the present level is sufficient to yield a comfortable income in retirement and that any shortfall arising from the recent emergency superannuation withdrawals will be made up by part-pension payments that are higher than otherwise simply ignore who will pay those pensions. It will be from the taxes of the younger working cohort and not the retiree who wants to eat their cake now and then eat the cake of taxpayers during their retirement.
Maurice Critchley, Kenthurst, NSW

Extra money is for the workers
According to Assistant Minister for Superannuation Jane Hume workers are unlikely to get pay rises in the next few years if the super guarantee is raised to 12.5 per cent. However, could she also explain why wages have not risen in past years despite her government freezing the guarantee.
At least an increase in the super guarantee is an increase in money for workers. An extension of Senator Hume’s logic would see the removal of the super guarantee and employers would then be able to give all workers an immediate 10 per cent pay increase. How good would that be or would we hear the usual excuse of ‘‘now is not the right time’’?
Ross Hudson, Camberwell

We need to fight for meagre increases
Smart workers do not buy trickle-down economics. Nor do they accept that increasing employer superannuation contributions will directly result in stagnant wage growth. Few employers will be thinking about raising wages in the foreseeable future regardless of their capacity to provide them. This government has shown no signs of adequately caring for retirees. Therefore we all need to fight tooth and nail for the meagre, legislated increases in superannuation contributions.
Trevor King, St Kilda East

Governments keep tinkering with super policy
If super was so super it wouldn’t need to be compulsory. Governments over the years have failed in their promise to keep it simple and not to tinker with it. The financial industry strongly supports compulsory super since they make money out of it. The investment returns are poor. The average Joe is better off putting any savings towards buying his first house. I run a small business and could use my super to buy a warehouse, stock or employ more staff. But I can’t. The administration of super in a casualised workforce is a nightmare. I imagine a day when the Liberal Party stands up and really supports ‘‘liberal’’ principles – a free land and a fair go.
Wayne Alexander, Eltham

Making it hard to be self-sufficient in retirement
Those who oppose the increase in superannuation contributions to 12.5 per cent include of course the responsible Minister Senator Jane Hume, who benefits in the long term from a scheme notably more generous than that available to ordinary Australians. What she and others forget is the long-term drag on the economy of more and more people at risk of being on a government pension for a significant part of their later life. How any conservative politician could argue that it’s a good thing to make it harder for people to self-fund their own retirement escapes me.
Brandon Mack, Deepdene

Wages growth used as part of hubristic claim
‘‘Super slug tipped to stem wages’’ (18/8): What hubris that is. There has been no wages growth for years to stem. All the trickle-down promises of wages and jobs growth haven’t eventuated. Who will trust them to pass on wages growth instead of super increases? It was legislated; leave it in place. And high-end tax cuts won’t trickle down.
David Jones, Essendon

THE FORUM

ABC a vital service
Martin Newington (Letters, 18/8) may be content to receive his news and information filtered through a commercial lens but more thoughtful people prefer an independent source. The ABC provided accurate lifesaving information during the bushfire emergency. Yes, there will be a debt resulting from expenditure caused by the pandemic just as there was debt after the two world wars. Money borrowed at low interest will be gradually repaid. With sensible policies (not tax cuts for the wealthy), job creation, reform of aged care, allowances to needy people who spend on necessities, the economy will recover.

Exposure of bad government practices may not suit the present government but informed voters lead to a better democracy. The ABC is a vital service.
Gael Barrett, North Balwyn

A question of standards
In response to Martin Newington I would argue that the ABC is very much an essential public service, deserving of appropriate public funding. The essential nature of the service provided by the ABC has been highlighted throughout the coronavirus pandemic. More than simply entertainment and social commentary, the ABC has provided a level of analysis and investigation not seen on other channels. The ABC’S ability to continue to provide high standards of investigative journalism is dependent upon continued and adequate financial support.
Jacob Bau, Brunswick

Transparency a given
‘‘Compromised probe stains nation’s honour’’ (18/8), in discussing former AFP chief Mick Keelty’s effective undermining of a police investigation into SAS alleged war crimes, rightly characterises this as ‘‘an appalling scandal’’. This tipping off of VC winner Ben Roberts-Smith with regard to AFP referrals about him shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, however.

In November, 2018, the then Australian War Memorial director, Brendan Nelson, remarkably lobbied for the Inspector General of the ADF to ‘‘damn well get on’’ with its inquiry into Roberts-Smith. Nelson had previously commented that war was a ‘‘messy business’’; and that unless there had been the ‘‘most egregious breaches of laws of armed conflict, we should leave it alone’’. This ‘‘fog of war’’ rationalisation was famously refuted at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal’s judgment on the Nazi leadership in 1946; the Nuremberg Principles emphasised an individual combatant’s individual moral responsibility, specifically in relation to ‘‘killing of hostages’’ and ‘‘murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war’’. In 2020, full transparency around the behaviour of Australian soldiers in war zones should be a given.
Jon McMillan, Mount Eliza

Lest we forget them, too
It seems incongruous that we can drop another $500 million on our national war memorial and still finish up with no meaningful cenotaph to those tens of thousands of Australians who gave their lives protecting this country against an endless wave of invaders. The frontier wars raged from the time Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Port Jackson until as late as 1934. Some estimate that at least 40,000 Indigenous people and 2000 to 2500 of the invaders lost their lives in these lopsided battles. Recent research suggests the number of deaths among the defenders was even higher. Surely they warrant a significant memorial. Lest we forget.
John Mosig, Kew

Move to renewables
While I may not be in favour of anything that increases gas consumption and adds to our already excessive emissions, I am equally not in favour of price gouging (‘‘Calls for action to rein in gas giants’’, 18/8) that disadvantages local industries and domestic consumers. Presumably that also flows through to electricity pricing with gas meeting much of the peak demand.
With the recent ACCC report slamming the industry as dysfunctional the smart gas consumers are gearing themselves up to move to cleaner and greener fuel options knowing that lower costs come with a move to solar, wind and storage sources of energy.
Robert Brown, Camberwell

Respect our elders
There are definitely systemic issues that exist within aged care. They aren’t however isolated to aged care – in fact it is only a by-product of cultural prioritisation away from the older generation. Not only as a society are we ashamed to grow old, but more often than not, we have treated younger people with more respect and dignity (or protection for that matter) than the elderly in our community. Not only have they spent their entire lives contributing to society, paying taxes and shaping our local communities but they are our parents and our grandparents. For far too long we have treated them like second-rate citizens. How is it that our school systems rank the best in the world but our elderly have been treated with some of the worst standards in the world? We can do better.
Chenny Chen, Werribee

Quarantine nightmare
I was among the first Australians quarantined upon returning home soon after the Ruby Princess debacle. I understood the need for isolation but the next two weeks were hard. The hotel staff were clueless as to how to support elderly, mentally ill and disabled people. Medical support was a cursory, daily temperature check and did not start for days after I arrived.

There was no central point of information and inquiries were passed between the hotel, medical team and Border Force without resolution. I received conflicting information about how to get insulin and ran out. I then had a fall resulting in a head injury and a trip to hospital. Upon release that night I was placed back in my room.

The night before quarantine ended, the medical team advised they were going to place me back in hospital. I refused. I understood the need for isolation, but I was unprepared for the NSW government’s ineptitude. I had no one to turn to, I was alone, I had medical issues. Gladys Berejiklian needs to do more than apologise for spreading the virus, she should also apologise to the people who were harmed by her government’s actions.
Graham Smillie, St Andrews Beach

Government hypocrisy
It is interesting to note that the Ruby Princess and hotel quarantine fiascos have resulted in no individuals being held responsible. If industry had made these mistakes the directors of the business would be going to court and facing jail terms with individuals involved receiving hefty fines. The NSW Premier finally had to admit to the mistakes of NSW Health and apologise. The Victorian Premier is still trying to avoid this scenario.

Meanwhile the families of those who have died and those who have been affected by these avoidable mistakes will not get any satisfaction knowing those responsible are government employees and will never face justice for their negligence. The hypocrisy of government is staggering.
Howard Richards, Valentine, NSW

Integrity commission call
The emerging security breach scandal involving former AFP chief Mick Keelty is yet another reminder of the urgent need for a federal integrity commission with teeth; democracy demands accountability and transparency.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

All about the dollar
If a CEO of a private aged care facility with 100 residents decides to cut one vegetable from each plate they can save 11 cents. That transfers into an increase in annual profit of $4000. That’s privatisation for you.
Jeff Langdon, Smythesdale

Hardly surprising
Very tellingly, in Kevin Spencer’s letter (18/8) every single male scientist mentioned had a ‘‘Sir’’ in front of his name, but the sole female scientist mentioned had no title. And we wonder why girls shy away from STEM subjects.
Walter J. Valles, Clayton South

Where’s our grand goal?
Katie Allen, Liberal member for Higgins, wants a Science Future Fund established ‘‘to smooth out the ups and downs of economic difficulties’’ (‘‘Innovation can help fuel our recovery’’, 18/8). Sounds good but a tad imprecise. What about a big Australian government investment in the science we already know so that we get 100per cent renewable energy and more efficient farming, to ensure a good future for our health and economy.

Allen mentions, in passing, the British grand goal of clean energy. Let’s dwell on that point for a minute. The UK government’s official data has revealed that renewable energy made up 47 per cent of the UK’s electricity generation in the first three months of this year. Where is the Australian government’s grand goal for acting on science to address climate damage and protect the future of the Australian economy, jobs and health?
Elaine Hopper, Blackburn

Tarnished image
I have always regarded Google as a positive corporate citizen. They have a history of standing up for progressive action on issues such as gay marriage even when it wasn’t in their interest to do so. But something has happened to change my opinion. Google has published and promoted to every Australian search user an open letter rejecting the government’s proposed news media bargaining code. They used their power to deliver a blatantly self-serving political message that threatens to undermine action designed to safeguard our democracy.

The demise of quality journalism affects us all. Google’s short-term commercial goals count for nothing against the consequences of business as usual. The government’s proposal may not be ideal but Google had the option to be part of the solution. Instead they have chosen to stonewall and protect themselves.
Leon Borrack, South Melbourne

AND ANOTHER THING …

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US Postal Service
Are The Donald’s US postal actions OK according to the letter of the law? Will any one put a stamp on his plans?
Stan Marks, Caulfield

Get Christmas cards to the US in the post today!
Ann Peers, Glen Iris

Isn’t it time the AEC was sent to help the US with absentee and postal voting given that Trump has appointed a political ally as Postmaster-General who is taking away the machines required for mail-in voting.
Peta Colebatch, Swan Reach, SA

Coronavirus
Where Uncle Jon’s fairytale (18/8) ends, a Choose Your Own Adventure story inevitably begins. Fingers crossed that we make wise choices and the good guys win.
Claire Merry, Wantirna

Virtual parliament would be incomplete without cardboard cutouts and canned interjections.
Jenny Bone, Surrey Hills

Will O’Brien call for McLachlan to resign because an umpire made a mistake.
George Reed, Wheelers Hill

Amid all the dramas and sadness of COVID-19, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Alan Jones has left and shortly so will Andrew Bolt.
David Francis, Ocean Grove

Furthermore
Good to see the ‘‘mullet’’ hairstyle is back (16/8); helps spot the bogans in winter when their tatts might not be showing.
James Ogilvie, Kew

I’d like to see zeros rather than dashes used on the AFL ladder. Adelaide, to take the most obvious example, has zero points so far because it has zero wins and zero draws.
Lindsay Zoch, East Melbourne

In advertising roles for the new national integrity commission, I hope Attorney-General Christian Porter lists ‘‘being able to keep a secret’’ as one of the key selection criteria.
Paul Cook, Coburg

Finally
Brilliant cartoonists Dyson, Golding and Wilcox capture our social and political angst in just a few strokes and words: our modern seers.
Mary Cole, Richmond

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