Watch out for horses

Richard Middleton writes: Re. “The real threat of terrorism to Australians, by the numbers” (yesterday).  Thanks to Bernard Keane for a fascinating list of death rates in Australia, putting “terrorist risk” into some perspective.

However, I fear Keane has missed a number of peculiarly Australian risks. Considering all of Australia’s creatures, the most feared  (croc, jellyfish, octopus, sharks, snake, spider, stonefish) have killed approx five people/year since records began (that is, about 185 in the last 37 years). The least feared, horses (20/year) and bees (10/year) have therefore killed 1110 people between them over same period. Ten times that number have drowned.

I find it fascinating that I am three times more likely to be killed by a bee than a terrorist, and were I Aboriginal (extrapolating from Keane’s chart), I would be twice as likely to die in the caring hands of our protective services.

Security forces play up the risk of death from swarthy foreigners to justify dressing up and playing at soldiers and to keep us in our rightful place.

Super changes hurt women most

Beryce Nelson writes: Re. “End of the mining tax guarantees more tax for the poor” (Thursday). What has clearly emerged out of the debate on superannuation is how little everyone seems to know about it — from our leaders to contributors. Compulsory superannuation is not part of a salary/wage. It is a compulsory payment made by your employer over and above the wage paid based on the amount of money you earn . It began at 3% and has increased now to 9%. It was due to go to 12% over the next couple of years and a promise to keep to that deadline was made by both the major parties prior to the last federal election.

So workers will not have “extra in their pocket to play with now” — they will be losing 10 years on increased superannuation contributions building towards their retirement. Employers will benefit as they will not have to make those increased contributions for many years now. Nor will they be obliged to increase wages to offset the loss. The two matters are separate. Of course, employees could choose now to salary sacrifice and make an additional 3% contribution to their superannaution, taking a cut in real wages, but since most Australians are struggling to cope with the dramatic increase in the cost of living that is unlikely to happen in the sector of the workforce where superannuation is most needed. Older women will be the most affected by the delay in implementation as well as by the decision taken at the same time to remove the federal government’s co-contribution scheme for low-income workers — the vast majority of whom are women. A crisis in homelessness for women over 55 is already unfolding in Australia, and these two decisions will make it an even bigger problem.

Peter Baker writes: Super paid under the superannuation guarantee legislation is not paid from an employee’s wage entitlement. It comes directly out off the employer’s hip pocket. When Abbott says keeping the guarantee pegged till 2017 is money in an employee’s pocket he is wrong. The employee only gets more in his pocket if his wage is increased. Employers are the ones who benefit from Abbott’s action.  Yet again, as his budget reflects, it’s the worker, the poor, the sick and the aged  who are penalized by this government.


In Media Briefs yesterday, Crikey implied senior business writer Blair Speedy had resigned as part of new business editor Eric Johnston’s changes to the section. Speedy in fact resigned five weeks ago — before Johnston came aboard, and so his move to Coles had nothing to do with that.

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