Piracy not a victimless crime

Andrew Maiden, CEO, Australian Subscription Television & Radio Association, writes: “Don’t stop us Breaking Bad: why internet piracy is good for TV” (Friday). Only in Peter Green’s parallel universe is internet piracy “good” for television. Piracy is not victimless, as Green would have us believe. It undermines investment and jeopardises local jobs, including the unglamorous jobs of regular Australians working in studios, editing suites and broadcast facilities. Australians on the whole do not believe it is right to download pirated material — research conducted by ASTRA last month found that three in five Australians believe pirates should be prosecuted, and a majority believe the government should do more to prevent it. With hundreds of hours of shows expressed within minutes from the US and UK — and made available across multiple devices and at cheaper rates — Green’s justification for piracy is spurious.

On raising the pension age

Jon Holbrook writes: Re. “Crikey says: an age-old question” (Friday). Regarding your comment on the Productivity Commission recommendation to “lift the retirement age” (warning: pedant alert), the Productivity Commission did not recommend lifting the retirement age. Australians can retire at any age they like; there is no mandatory minimum. All you have to do is stop working. What you pay your bills with then becomes your problem.

What the PC did recommend is lifting the pension age, i.e. the minimum age at which the age pension becomes available.  How many people are over the pension age is the government’s problem, as the age pension liability is then payable.

The other age of interest in this discussion is the preservation age, i.e. the minimum at which people can get their hands on their super. Currently this is 55 for retirement benefits, but soon to start edging its way up to 60. People with access to their super may be eligible for a lower age pension than otherwise might be the case.

Martin Gordon writes: The Productivity Commission report on ageing and the Crikey comments were very useful.

A surprisingly wide range of commentators have commented constructively on the need to confront the ageing issue. The problem is that this sort of thing is far too prone to scaremongering and petty partisan comments and politics verging on cretinism. One of the silliest so far was it was a plot by the government.

After the introduction of the age pension by the Deakin Liberal government (which included a standard retirement age of 65, an income and assets test including  the principal place of residence), the ALP reduced the pension age for women and fiddled around with the asset test, which, while popular, was irresponsible. In the 1990s the ALP under Keating ran a fear campaign on raising of the pension age for women, and the re-elected ALP government subsequently introduced an increase in the pension age for women to 65 (along with sales tax and excise increases, and scrapped the promised LAW tax cuts). The outgoing Keating government commissioned a report by Professor Bob Gregory into aged care, but the report and its recommended bonds and so on where then opportunistically opposed by the ALP (then in opposition).

It is too much to expect that politicians may not play politics with issues. But sometimes some sense needs to prevail. In the ageing space the ALP could get on board and things could be done; forget the short-term opportunism. If not the pension, aged care, healthcare and financial mess will grow. Based on history, opportunistic politics lead to free tertiary education and the highly concessional treatment of superannuation, both of which have massively regressive distributional consequences. Fortunately the ALP introduced HECS, which at least partly resolved the tertiary education issue, but superannuation is still a huge and growing problem (and the subject of regular critical comment by items in Crikey). The recent ALP moves in this area were pretty small.

I used to work on policy advice and know the issues involved. Perhaps adults might make the decisions this time?