Pokies reform:

Anthony Ball, executive director, Clubs Australia, writes: Re. “Pokies reform: Clubs Australia, Deutsche Bank and Peter Garrett” (yesterday, item 13). Charles Livingstone claims registration for a mandatory pre-commitment card would be about as onerous as signing up at the local DVD shop. Hmmm, perhaps he missed Nick Xenophon’s grudging admission on Sky News’ The Nation that punters who register for a pre-commitment card will need to have their identity recorded on a government maintained database. Of course they will, it’s the only way of preventing problem gamblers from registering for multiple cards.

Last time I checked Blockbuster and Video Ezy didn’t pass on my details to a federal department. My local video shop also wont refuse to serve me if I leave my card at home, nor will they require me nominate in advance how many movies I wish to view. To compare a mandatory pre-commitment card with a video card is yet another attempt to downplay the huge privacy intrusion of this licence to punt technology.

As for predicted gaming losses, Livingstone need only speak with any punter to be told in no uncertain terms that gamblers are not comfortable with their identity being stored on a government database and having their play tracked. They also don’t like the idea of a poker machine that has a maximum jackpot of $500, which is the low-intensity machine model dreamt up to placate MPs nervous trying to justify making punters register for a card.

I’m still waiting for an explanation as to how issuing gambling cards to problem gamblers is the solution to problem gambling in Australia. Clearly proving mandatory works, or doesn’t, isn’t important to the anti-gambling lobby.

Financial planners:

Financial planner Wally Fryer writes: Re. “Financial planners talk candidly about wealth management” (Monday, item 1). Unfortunately the article is slanted, like so many others, against financial planners and is written with not even a cursory attempt to understand the concerns we have over FOFA (Future of Financial Advice). The most flak we are getting is by opposing the proposed “opt-in” rule that will legislate that we have to write to our clients every two years to get their signed agreement for us to continue to charge ongoing fees. This will apply to all new clients after FOFA is introduced.

By way of example, I charge 0.6% of my client’s portfolios to monitor, review and grow their investments. If I do well in improving their returns, I also benefit. If I do poorly, or the markets go down, then I share their losses — just as I have been doing since the GFC. I have never had a client object to this modest fee.

The problem is that, under the new rules, how will they deal with my letter asking them to sign and return an ongoing agreement for those fees to continue.

Do you think perhaps the letter will be treated with urgency or get buried under the newspapers and other mail in the house. My guess is the latter for most clients, not because they do not agree that they are getting fair value but because it is human nature to put aside something that is non-urgent, particularly as it is about paying money. That means a follow-up letter or email or phone call.

Now think about my business. Can you imagine the extra work involved in these follow-ups? Time that I simply cannot afford or charge extra for.

It is yet another case of government trying to do the right thing for consumers without any regard for the planners and it is only because two rogue financial groups, Storm and Westpoint, collapsed and cost their clients plenty. In some cases clients lost everything. There was a lot of lobbying for change and as a result we now have FOFA before us. There is no doubt that some of the proposed legislation is worthwhile, including legislating for advisers to act in client’s best interest (as if most advisers wouldn’t) and stronger powers to ASIC to deal with rogue operators (any industry that involves money unfortunately attracts its share of rogues).

This presented a great opportunity for the union-run industry funds to lobby and make representation on how FOFA should operate. While industry funds have lower fees, they, in the main, do not offer advice or strategy  yet oppose planners vehemently and compete aggressively for our business, as you would have seen in the TV ads over the years.

The next unfortunate aspect is that the minister responsible is Bill Shorten who is an ex-union official and trustee of industry superannuation funds. That is why we will see the “opt-in” rule become law and, even worse, commissions for life insurance in superannuation banned. We will continue to receive commissions for life insurance outside of superannuation.

The fact is that, in presenting tax-efficient strategy to our clients, a significant majority of life insurance is written within superannuation. This is the worst aspect of FOFA and is proposed despite  the fact that the life insurance company pays the commission, not the client. Another win for the industry funds. A disaster for planners and the reason why hundreds, if not thousands of planners who can afford it will leave the industry.

The result will be less advice for the consumers who really need it.

Carbon price and climate change:

John Kotsopoulos writes: “I’m looking forward to some articles explaining the uselessness of our proposed carbon tax in the face of exploding Chinese, Indian and other emissions,” writes Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments).

First, it’s a carbon price, Tamas.  A carbon tax where it exists is usually levied at the retail level such as a GST.

Turnbull put it succinctly when he said that regardless of your convictions about climate change a low carbon economy is an insurance policy.  A carbon price will also drive industry efficiency and create new opportunities for our high-tech energy sector here and overseas.

Even assuming your proposition to be true, please explain how an increasingly indebted West can afford to continue to compete for energy resources in the face of “exploding” demand from these powerful and ever-growing economies.

Wayne Robinson writes: Tamas has done it again. I suggest that Crikey shouldn’t publish any of his repetitious claims, whenever he mentions 1998 (an abnormally hot year due to an unusually strong el Nino), so as to claim that the continuing global warming isn’t happening. I suggest that Crikey should also add 1940 to the list of no-nos, as Tamas has done it again, using 1940 as his starting data point for the subsequent 70 years. 1940 was also a warm year.

The reasons for the subsequent global cooling is open to conjecture.  Well, for one thing, there was the Second World War, with its virtual collapse of the global civilian economy.  Austerity was the rule. Contrails from bombers were also thought to have resulted in cooling. The point is that Tamas persists in cherry picking, selecting as his starting point warm years to conceal global warming. It’s dishonest.

Martyn Smith writes: Through Crikey‘s pages I would like to thank Tamas Calderwood for his many letters to Crikey on climate change. Every time he writes, he is rebutted by someone who has expertise, but Tamas just keeps on coming back for more.

Since he is shown to be incorrect time after time and still returns to the fray, I’ve decided that in fact he must be a closet Greenie. Knowing that most of us are bored by scientific argument, he cleverly provokes an authoritative response by writing his “Bonnox” ..  (How many L’s in Bonnox again?).  Even I can see through his cherry-picking stupidity in yesterday’s effort and I’m looking forward to the replies.

But, don’t give up, Tamas, I really enjoy your efforts and the replies are illuminating. You are doing an excellent job for the planet … keep up the Bonnox!

A late tip:

Blair Speedy, The Australian, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 7). Crikey published:

“Yellow Tail, the Casella budget wine brand that’s had phenomenal success in the US, may be set to expand further. Crikey hears the company is planning to replicate the model with beer …”

I think you many be onto something there, and only five months late. Do I win $5?