When society’s biggest rent-seekers and parasites are in rare and furious agreement, ordinary working men and women should be profoundly sceptical. The plan to lift the Superannuation Guarantee from 9 to 12 per cent is vigorously endorsed by government, financial institutions and trade unions alike, yet sadly is receiving little scrutiny.
Nothing is stopping workers from putting an extra 3 per cent of their wages in super right now.
Indeed, workers’ mistaken belief that the burden of compulsory super falls on their employers, or even government, rather than themselves through a 9 per cent cut in take-home pay is allowing an extremely unfair, inefficient and ultimately ineffective policy become reality. The argument Australia ‘needs’ to increase superannuation to plug a ‘savings gap’ and ‘take the pressure’ off the Age Pension is a bogus platitude.
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About time, too. In the end, Ricky Ponting didn’t so much fall upon his sword as trip over it and watch helplessly as his career slowly bled to death.
Ponting was our best bat since Bradman. Still is, despite Michael Clarke’s run-soaked year. But the Tasmanian’s first innings dismissal in Adelaide said it all. Not only had his once steady flow of runs dried up. Now his dignity was failing him too.
Ponting has just held his departing press conference ahead of his final Test commencing in Perth tomorrow. The last time he called a presser was in February to announce his retirement from One Day cricket. He hoped that would prolong his Test career. Wasn’t to be.
When Peter Costello famously encouraged Australian families to have a child for Mum, one for Dad and one for the country, he was focused on a significant national challenge, the ageing of the population.
Population ageing is the product of two demographic trends, longevity and a declining birthrate. It is a challenge for many western nations, including Australia.
Australians are living longer, on average, than at any time in the past. While this will increase costs, especially for aged and health care, it is not an insurmountable problem. It is the combination of longer living and declining fertility that threatens the economic growth of the nation.
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It’s a question that will affect everyone at some point in their lives, but very few people know how to answer.
The most recent estimation comes from the Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia.
According to their researchers every Australian will need at least $55, 000 per person, for every year of retirement to ensure they will be enjoying the last years of their lives in comfort.
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Retirees. They’re living it up nowadays, blowing any pitiful inheritance their kids could expect on all their tree-changes, sea-changes, and various kinds of me-changes.
But a number of Gen Ys - my generation - reckon they’re still going to get a fair bit from their parents when they die.
According the ING Direct Financial Wellbeing Index, one in seven Gen Ys are expecting to rely on their parents’ inheritance to support them in retirement.
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For about half of his career, Brett Lee was possibly a rung short of being a true cricketing great. That’s not to denigrate a guy who had a lengthy Australian career in all forms of the game. It’s just how it is.
Unlike the greatest two bowlers of his generation Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Lee was a player of peaks and troughs. When he was good, you didn’t want to be a batsman, or for that matter his own wicket keeper. But when he was ordinary, you didn’t want to be a picket in the boundary fence.
The moment Lee arrived on the scene for NSW in the mid ’90s, it was clear he was one out of the box marked “Express”. In his debut in the 1999 Boxing Day Test at the MCG, he took a wicket in his first over and 5/47 in his first innings. Shane Who? Glenn Who?
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The massive sums and the wealthy characters in the bitter debate over the mining profits tax have swamped discussion of a plan to help the lowest paid Australians. This measure would address the painful worry of hundreds of thousands of working women that they will not be able to save money for retirement.
It is a move designed to avoid the unhappy destiny of many unskilled women - there are just over two million in the workforce - who at the end of their working lives face a struggle to survive.
It has bipartisan support to the extent that if the Government proceeds with it the Coalition, should it win government, would not wind it back. But it is rarely mentioned because the debate is anchored in the fate of billions of dollars, not in the futures of millions of the low paid.
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Is it a demonstration of what’s great about the Aussie spirit to keep doing something even after you find out for sure 20 people younger than you are better at it, and your Olympic hopes are dashed?
Ian Thorpe’s disappointing weekend in the pool, and what he said once he got out of the pool, has got me stumped. They guy is a great champion, and not just that, he seems like an incredibly decent person too.
He should be remembered not just for his incredible feats in competitive swimming, but for the way he behaved while he was under the white-hot glare of Australian expectations for all those years. You can’t fake good character for that long when you’re that young.
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So here’s the news, if you can call it that. Ricky Ponting will no longer play One Day cricket, which we all knew, given he was dropped from the team yesterday. As Ponting himself effectively said this morning, the selectorial door is not a revolving one at his age.
Ponting will, however, continue to play Test cricket. So the Ponting landscape today is pretty much the same as it is yesterday, which made the 70 media at today’s presser, myself included, wonder why we had bothered to leave the office.
Notwithstanding the mild inconvenience of attending a cricketing equivalent of a Seinfeldian show about nothing, it’s worth reflecting on Ponting’s decision. And while we’re at it, let’s celebrate the 375 One Dayers Ponting racked up for Australia.
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“The willingness of future generations to serve in our military will be directly dependent upon how we have treated those who have served in the past.” George Washington.
So the politicians have seen fit to grant themselves another pay rise. No, sorry, the Federal Remuneration Tribunal has granted them a pay rise and they have accepted its ruling. Changing the legislation to say no is apparently not an option.
What many may not realise is that politician pay rises benefit not just current politicians, but all qualifying pre-2004 retired politicians. If those retired politicians are survived by their spouse this pay rise also goes to them.
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Princess Mary is currently holidaying in Tassie, but she’s not the only home-grown royalty in town.
From a humble upbringing in country Mowbray, Ricky Thomas Ponting has ascended to arguably the loftiest post in the wide brown land; Australian Cricket Captain. While he’s come under fire of late from the media, selectors and fans on the mainland, the support back home has been unwavering.
The headline from Launceston rag The Examiner before his debut test read: “He’s Ricky Ponting, he’s ours… and he’s made it! Tassie’s batting star will play in his first Test”. And the Taswegian media have been waxing lyrical about Punter ever since.
If you’re decades older than the retirement age but you really love your job, should you still retire?
One of Britain’s oldest workers didn’t think so. Syd Prior, a worker at a DIY superstore, retired at age 96 last week. He said the job kept him young.
All you working people out there, would you ever work past your retirement age? And what about you retirees? Is retirement all that it’s sometimes cracked up to be? What are the best and worst parts of it? It’s Monday, folks. What’s on your mind?
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Tiger Woods is one contradictory cat. There’s a human being inside that shell, a living, breathing, joke-cracking, thoughtful guy with all kinds of normal human feelings.
But there’s also a mercenary. A man who this week privately played golf with anonymous Chinese millionaires for huge sums of money. A golfing enthusiast who will rave about Australia’s world class golf courses, and how he wishes America had more courses like ours, then greedily pocket three million for the privilege of playing here.
But if you think Tiger is ruthless in the way he subjugates all dignity in his endless quest to accumulate money, that’s nothing on the way he suppresses his own emotions. At his Tuesday media call at The Lakes Golf Club, which The Punch attended, he didn’t once acknowledge the effect his marital break-up and sex scandal had on his golf game.
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I am becoming increasingly tired of seeing, hearing or reading in the media, former Prime Ministers or politicians struggling to retire from political power and influence with dignity.
Anyone with even a modest interest in politics could compile a substantial list in just a few minutes. Think Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, Pauline Hanson, Peter Beattie, Bob Carr, Cheryl Kernot, Jeff Kennett, Mark Latham, John Hewson, Peter Costello, Graham Richardson and Peter Reith and you will have just started. Why don’t these ex-pollies just put the kettle on and relax?
Then of course there is deposed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who is suffering the “Kath and Kim “ syndrome: “Look at me, look at me, look at me!”
So Ricky Ponting has quit as Australian cricket captain. About time. And Ricky Ponting will still be available for selection as a regular member of the team. As he should be.
Months and even years of speculation were laid to rest at the SCG today, when Ponting announced his seven year reign was over. “I’ve still got a lot to offer as player,” he told a hefty media contingent. “Younger players can learn from me and the way I play, and there’s no better place for them to learn than in the heat of the battle.”
Before the announcement, a few wise-cracking journalists were framing the odds of Ponting breaking into tears. Didn’t happen. Ponting only made his decision last night, and called Michael Clarke first thing this morning to tell him. But he kept his emotions in check, even if his crumpled notes suggested he’d rehearsed his lines long into the night to keep the waterworks at bay.
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What do you do with your life when what is left can be counted in years, rather than decades?
When the realisation hits that you are sliding into oblivion?
This new fear is aided and abetted by the overwhelming attitude of the community towards the elderly.
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The sudden resignation of Murray-Darling Basin Authority chair, Mike Taylor, was a reminder that with complex national reforms, there’s many a slip between cup and lip.
Two schools of thought emerged. One cast Mr Taylor’s departure as a setback because a strong advocate of a healthy river system had been muzzled. The other held that an enviro-fundamentalist who saw the good as the enemy of the great, had bowed out clearing the way for a workable deal for the river.
Actually both are true.
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Forty billion dollars gone; four million Australians out of pocket; fees charged for services that are never delivered. It’s the biggest scam you’ve never heard of, and there’s a very real chance you’re a victim.
Indeed, according to the results of a groundbreaking research project last month, a series of questionable practices in Australia’s superannuation industry are gouging close to $80,000 from the retirement savings of many average income earners.
Most worryingly, the same report warned that without immediate, decisive action to fix these serious problems $120 billion more could be siphoned off in the next decade alone.
In 1992 Paul Keating’s leadership motivated me to join the Labor Party. Keating provided the labour movement with the leadership, vision and fighting spirit needed to combat the regressive Fightback package.
Keating won the election, and Labor celebrated a great win against neo- liberalism. What followed was a period of government where Keating’s great intellect and vision was pitted against his arrogance, exhaustion and electoral indifference.
This was a difficult and frustrating period for many Labor supporters and I remember periods of despair at our performance. After 1996 the whole labour movement shied away from defending Keating, his Government and his politics due to the collective scars caused by his defeat.
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IF you are an Australian in your early fifties and starting to think, however fleetingly, about retirement, the future you thought you had just changed dramatically.
In an aside in Wayne Swan’s Budget speech he announced the retirement age would be lifted by two years, to 67. There can’t be much that the Treasurer has enjoyed about putting this frightful Budget together, but he might take some quiet consolation in remembering John Howard was that age when he was involuntarily retired as Prime Minister in November 2007.
Lifting the retirement age should come as a relief to younger workers. I love old people – I know some, and sometimes even talk to them. But having a general understanding that you stop paying taxes and start taking them instead at 65 years of age is both ageist and something the country cannot afford to continue.
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