Yesterday Crikey readers had a few notes to add on Bernard Keane’s article on the need to shutter and make public the broken life insurance industry. Elsewhere, readers were particularly interested in former treasurer Wayne Swan’s reflections on the Global Financial Crisis — while many readers showed their admiration for Swan’s role in the handling of the crisis, just as many took him to task for his rose-tinted nostalgia.

On the end of the life insurance industry

Dr. John Nightingale writes: I doubt that public ownership itself would solve all the problems. Let’s go back to mutuals, where the customers are the owners. Perhaps a publicly owned bank etc could keep some expertise in public hands, but I think the mutuals, like the industry super funds, would show up all the rest.

Desmond Graham writes: The royal commission has confirmed what people already suspected. What people did not know: the wholesale incompetence of the public servants employed to supervise the industries. If we extrapolate this to the rest of the commissions, they are all likely to be of the same competence. By sustaining these commissions the government is outsourcing governance — all care but no responsibility. The electorate must demand accountability to be exercised by their elected representatives.

On Wayne Swan’s reflections of the GFC

Persistently Baffled writes: We all know “you’ve never had it so good” is political suicide. Yet our dodging of the GFC bullet comes close to making that statement true. Had Swannie followed the Tory path, we wouldn’t now be looking at 27 years without recession. I was lucky enough to travel overseas in the GFC aftermath, and the effects on ordinary folks in Europe and the Americas were appalling — austerity, unemployment and gloom. This is something that Australians never really saw and, as the memory of recession gently floats away, it seems that nobody understands just how good the collective “we” have it.

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Yes, the Coalition has camouflaged their smash-and-grab assault on the social safety net but they have largely followed the Labor government in three key areas, so Wayne doesn’t come into this battle with his hands clean, nor can he cast the first stone. Wayne and other comrades, when in government in 2013, enacted a vicious class war against three welfare groups. In the Expenditure Review Committee, Wayne and others voted not to increase Newstart, which was then and is now one of the world’s lowest and hasn’t had a value increase since Paul Keating’s government in 1994. Likewise, Wayne and co. also voted to tighten up on the Disability Support Pension so that it was, and is now, extremely hard to get on. Wayne topped this off by voting to offload sole parents from their pension of $21,000 a year to $14,000 a year when their child turned eight. 

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