Gavin Greenoak writes: Re. “Tale of two Australias, one disconnected from reality” (November 23). In a usefully provocative article, Bernard Keane wonders at two Australias: one plain sailing under reasonable leadership and reform through some extreme weathers affecting other countries more severely; and the other all squabble, corruption and incompetence, due to hit a reef any time soon.
The answer to why the second scenario is more prevalent is surely no less obvious than the huge presence of the media in most people’s lives, and the mostly bad weather it purveys on an hourly basis. And we should ask ourselves what kind of animal this media is? Somewhat like a vulture methinks.
Add to this, inevitable comparisons, which like a graph without legends to their axes superficially compares the state of a country like England which has a population seven times larger than NSW crammed in to less than a sixth of its area! The tonnage of information targeting individuals who lack the mental algorithms to organise it, leads to that anxious bewilderment which Keane simplistically derives from a dissatisfaction with government. Adequate frames of reference would be handy.
Superannuation is fun!
Sarah Hayes writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday). In my job (I work in the super industry), the biggest frustration is that people don’t take any personal responsibility for their super. There are many things that funds and employers are bound to do by legislation — for example, an employer MUST choose a fund which offers an insurance benefit as the default fund for their employee’s superannuation. Most employees have a choice as to whether or not the default fund is used, and then, on top of that, nearly all funds give you the option to cancel the insurance if it’s something that you don’t want to pay for — it’s in that information that’s sent to you before, or as soon as, you join, which most people don’t read.
With some of the larger corporate and retail funds, fees do change when you leave the employer that is sponsoring the fund. This is usually due to the employer subsidising the fees for their employees, which, of course, stops when you leave. The fund is obligated to write to you and tell you before they change your fund arrangements, however if you have not kept your address up to date, or if you don’t read mail from your super fund you are never going to know.
Your fees for super are paying for a service — experts to invest and manage your retirement savings, pay the relevant tax on the money, and often provide you with information and advice about retirement when the time comes. These costs do not change whether there is a negative or a positive return. If you’re not happy with what your current fund is charging for the service you receive, then, much like you would a bank, you can change funds.
I know I sound like a ranting lunatic, but the reality is that for many Australians their superannuation account is amongst their top three assets, and yet people don’t make it their business to understand how it can work for them, or even the basics of what choices they have. Granted it’s complicated, but often your fund will offer free or subsidised help to understand fees, choose investments, get your employer paying your super where you want, and finding and consolidating all your super accounts.
Gillard, Abbott and the AWU
John Carter writes: We are being bombarded with the AWU affair — aimed at destroying our elected Prime Minister. The press gallery are on a feeding frenzy but are doing little homework on the unsavoury characters that are being recalled because of “their great desire for the truth”. Who has motivated them to come forward ? What they are being paid?
There is a remarkable sense of déjà vu in it all with Tony Abbott being the common factor.
Next August it will be 10 years since the most disgraceful episode in Australian political history — the jailing sentence for three years for Pauline Hanson on a “trumped up” charge that was later thrown out by Queensland’s Chief Justice.
Tony Abbott was the man who promised money to the disaffected One Nation man (Terry Sharples) to come out with material that was later proved to be false. The operation was conducted from WA, financed by a body called Australians for Honest Politics.
This time, the WA Liberal, Julie Bishop, is conducting the overt operation with Abbott again behind the scenes.
A remarkable repetition but no one in the gallery appears to have noticed it. Why?
David Trembath writes: Has anyone pointed out that Tony Abbot can’t recall punching the wall on either side of a woman’s head while at university and Julia Gillard can’t recall signing a document twenty years ago. I know which one I’d find memorable.