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Current super concessions favour the wealthy - so why aren’t we supporting reform?

It says much about the degeneration of the Australian Labor Party that its priority and target for budget “savings” is poor single mums. In order to save an estimated $723 million over four years, in January…

Fairness test: the Federal government has targeted the earnings of single parents while supporting wealthy superannuants. AAP

It says much about the degeneration of the Australian Labor Party that its priority and target for budget “savings” is poor single mums.

In order to save an estimated $723 million over four years, in January around 80,000 single parents (90% of whom are women) were moved onto Newstart, effectively reducing incomes already considered under the poverty line by between $60 and $110 dollars.

But when it comes to the really rich (mainly men) suckling on the teat of government through disguised spending programs like superannuation tax concessions, Labor hasn’t yet decided what to do, despite knowing of the problem for at least three years.

Superannuation tax concessions cost $30 billion last year in forgone revenue. According to the Treasury in its recently released Tax Expenditures Statement, that figure will skyrocket to $45 billion in 2015/16. The concessions are threefold – low tax rates on contributions to superannuation funds, low tax rates on fund earnings and by and large no tax on retirement streams paid to superannuants when they turn 60.

Like many tax expenditures the benefits of the superannuation tax concessions and exemptions flow overwhelmingly to the rich. For example, the Australia Institute estimates that the top 5% of income earners get one third of the superannuation tax grants, about $10 billion at the moment and rising to $15 billion in 2015/16.

Others like the ACTU have reached much the same conclusion about the unfairness of the superannuation system. Even the Henry Tax Review back in 2010 agreed that the current superannuation tax structure was inequitable and suggested some tinkering.

Yet almost three years after Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan released the Henry tax Review in May 2010, Labor has made no moves to address this.

If any politician campaigned openly on a program of big grants to the rich and much smaller ones to the poor and less well off, they’d be pilloried from pillar to post. But why does it become okay for government largesse to flow to the rich and powerful when it comes to tax concessions?

Surely it is time to fight back. One option would be to tax the superannuation income stream when paid to superannuants with fund balances greater than $800,000 or $1 million.

But Julia Gillard has already ruled that out. So that leaves the possibility of some sort of increased tax on contributions to funds and or the earnings of funds.

However, it is doubtful Labor has the political will or spine to attack these inequitable concessions. The other difficulty will be in distinguishing between rich and less well off contributors.

Is there an alternative? There were about 2.25 million age pensioners in 2010/11. The age pension is means tested. There are about 3.08 million people aged over 65. Now I am no genius when it comes to figures, but if we added the cost of the pension and the revenue forgone from the superannuation concessions together and divided by 3.08 million, my back of the envelope calculations are that you’d be able to pay every person aged 65 or over $23,000 a year, an increase of about $90 a week on the current payment.

If it were restricted to the 2.25 million current age pensioners then the payment would be around $30,000 a year, an increase of over $200 a week. That would take pensioners out of the poverty zone.

Revenue forgone is not the same as revenue that would be collected if the concessions were abolished. But much of the money currently benefiting from the superannuation tax concession would go into areas taxed at normal rates. If it were to flow into tax preferenced or no tax arrangements (such as negatively geared rental properties) then the time has come to remove these lurks too.

It may seem unfair that millionaires should get the pension but the argument is society recoups it from them during their lifetime of earnings through a steeply progressive income tax, wealth taxes and taxes on wealth transfers. Australia is after all a low tax country and the rich and big business have it easy here.

A more progressive tax system would not only cover any revenue forgone versus collected shortfall alluded to above but also provide the base for increasing the pensions to an even more livable amount fo all over 65, say $30000 a year.

It provides a base too for adequately funding education reforms as the Gonski’s education reforms and a full National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), as well as beginning the move to a fully renewable energy society. It is time to tax the rich so they pay their fair share.

That means for starters getting rid of tax rorts like the superannuation tax concessions that overwhelmingly favour the very wealthy.

Join the conversation

131 Comments sorted by

  1. Henry Verberne

    Former IT Professional

    I think the answer to the question posed by the author is not so much the "degeneration" of Labor but its poor electoral standing. This was also likely in play over the gay marriage issue. With both these issues it is all about avoiding alienating voter blocs which could be the final nail in the coffin for Labor's electoral prospects.

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    1. Michael Shand
      Michael Shand is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Software Tester

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Gillard made promises to the Australian Christian Lobby regarding the status of marrige and in return received campaign donations and some other promises.

      Usually the way these lobby groups work is they will say, look this is what we want and if we cant get an agreement then all this money and all this praise and positive attention will go to your opponent.

      Basically ACL said unless you play ball we are going to hammer home that your an atheist in all our publications and to all our members and remind them that "Only the fool says in his heart their is no god" and other biblical passages

      Of course, the allienating voters factor was their but not in any significant way like it used to be - we have demoninations of christianity that have Transgender Clergy and gay ceremonies now

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    2. Phil S

      Physics PhD Student

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Yep, exactly.

      The Author says:
      "If any politician campaigned openly on a program of big grants to the rich and much smaller ones to the poor and less well off, they’d be pilloried from pillar to post."

      but there is an increasingly vocal group of people earning $150K+ who believe they are not rich and hard done by in terms of government help. To me 150K is a huge salary, and those crying poor over it should learn to live within their means, like everyone else on 30-80k does, but Labor doesn't want to completely alienate this voter block.

      Now I know the Author goes on to speak about the people on $800k+, but I think Labor are likely worried that the 150k bracket might get up in arms over that sort of cut too (as they are more likely to enter the 800k bracket than anyone else)

      Either way I think Labor is doing it wrong, and should stand up for some hard principles, but I'm not a politician, so what do I know :P

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    3. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to John C Smith

      Oh John, Auditor.

      Healthy margin is an indication of the high percentage of English Politicians who, when given a conscience vote supported the Bill.

      I made no mention of whether marraige of any form is healthy or unhealthy. I have seen quite a few functional marraiges and disfunctional ones in my time.

      I am curious as to why you would choose to deliberately misunderstand such a simple and straightforward point?

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    4. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Michael Shand

      I think I take your point looking at a program about lobbiest in America I am for baning all of them does the ordinary citizen have a lobby group funded by powerful organisations to push their self interests. I am for paying for politicians and hopeful politicians to campain and remove any partisan there may be any strings attached to any organisation. Much finger pointing about connections but very little action from any political party to resolve that easily resolved problem. I would put an end to clever campains and ensure that the politicians face up together and in front of the voters with the facts to support thier arguments not clever words emotive words divisive words but simple truth.

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    5. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Phil S

      I think there was a time when Labor could challenge the Power Blocks when the ABC was well funded had great journalists who seem to know what they were talking about and would without favour deliver all the facts to those who watched and listened to it's programs. WITHOUT FAVOUR to any political party although one party would dispute that.

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    6. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to margaret m

      Indeed, the few debates that do occur are very shallow.

      Interviews are far too brief as well. Probably too few in the public care, & too many want to know what is happening instead on MKR, etc. Very sad.

      Its also cheaper to provide 'reality TV' journalism about TV personalities than do the hard hitting politically dangerous ones that affect a nation & which may take months to piece together. Gone may be the days of Water Gate-like revelations.

      As an American president many decades ago said: "the price of freedom is eternal vigilance"..

      There's not much of that these days...

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  2. Peter Ormonde

    Farmer

    Superannuation concessions have ALWAYS disproportionately benefited the rich John. The more cash you can plant in your tax-fed super fund the more tax benefits you get. Costello made it worse, but basically we hand over an NBN every year to "incentivize" (I'll spell it with a zee to emphasise its ugliness) the relatively secure and well heeled.

    Gillard's recent Press Club speech (printed in full here: http://www.crikey.com.au/2013/01/30/julia-gillards-press-club-speech-a-plan-for-certainty-and-security

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    1. margaret m

      old lady

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter Ormonde: I really feel for our Farmers I am sick sick of this city centric rubbish people are not stupid dairy industry and the milk price issue people can see how power blocks can use thier control to their advantage disadvantage the weaker party. Back to the clawing back the disproportionate largesse handed over to the well-off by Howard was that not a clever stratagy if they lost the election because of Work Choices they had put in place a financial handicap if Labor tried to bring back the balance it would be stirring up an articulate vocal part of the community hence making it an extra insurance that they could get back in sooner rather than later.

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  3. Kim Bulwinkel
    Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Retired regional medical specialist

    Having just been forced into retirement by circumstances outside my control and at 58 years of age, the situation with respect to superannuation & pensions is of obvious interest to me. I have always maximally contributed to my self-managed fund which was doing well until totally decimated by the Family Court a few years ago [50-50 is not a concept that is understood in that juridiction!]. That same Family Court exercise stripped me of 85% of my other net assets as well before it then attacked…

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Hi Kim, this article speaks about the disproportionate treatment towards people with not much economic or societal power, by ( both ) the previous and present governments. Sole pensioners etc.
      You use the word "I" a lot.
      What are your thoughts on sole parents drug dealing or prostituting themselves to buy food or pay the bills.
      The reality for some in this country is completely bleak.
      But what makes me really angry, ( even more than your dilemma ) is all the generational problems which will adhere to these now children. Also the stupidity of people who have the power to do something about this madness and are apparently grown - up.

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      How does one become productive, educated and skillful? You're a smart enough fella to know it's essentially down to the conditions, circumstances and opportunities available. And that's down to society.

      No one here is self-made. As the Family Court so painfully reminds us.

      It is easy to be "prudent" when one has something to be prudent with - and the more tax concessions pump that up - the more prudent one can be.

      Economically and socially it's not very effective - privatising one's social security system (via super) ... $30 billion a year Kim - an NBN every 12 months. And you end up with huge iniquities where those with the greatest incomes derive the greatest tax incentives.

      There are far more sensible approaches for a prudent society. I like my governments to be prudent, don't you?

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    3. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      During my life I have often asked questions in reply to questions to seek out the right answers. To answer yours Alice, I ask the question - how did the sole parents become 'sole' parents? I spent worktime (Aid project) in Fiji many years ago. In that village society, a child is a cild of the community .. the greater family if you like. There were no sole parents!
      Drug dealing & prostitution - why choose these income sources when there is so much other work that can be done? My South American in-laws…

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    4. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I never quite understand where you are coming from Peter!

      Henry Tax reform implementation would be a good start with prudent review of GST added in.

      You may or may not be aware that there are only about 9 million personal tax payers in this country out of a population of 23 odd million residents and only about 950,000 are in the top 10% of earners. These so-called tax concessions for super to the top 10% of earners/tax-payers is a small tax break compared to what they already pay. The ATO annual report is illuminating but heavy reading!

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    5. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      We don't live in Fiji, been there, yes it is wonderful, the "village" ambiance there.
      Drug dealing and prostitution, yes, there are women out there as we speak, considering this because this is now all that is left.
      I don't live in south america, or have the benefit of the wonderful lack of need for a benefit. I have a son with a disability.
      Maybe you could organise an aid project and study what is happening to these families now.
      America has a system similar to the one you allude to. Watch…

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  4. Malcolm Nearn

    logged in via LinkedIn

    The idea has been promoted that anyone with more than 1 million in super should be taxed in some unspecified way. On the other hand we are told that if you want even a modest retirement you will need at least 1.5 to 2 million in super. If you are a retired couple under 75 you are both required to withdraw 3.75% as a minimum each year. With inflation running at 2+% and interest from safe securities running at less than 4% the real value of your capital is shrinking every year.

    People with 1 million in super are not rich - just prudent.

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    1. Bronwyn Shimmin-Clarke

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Malcolm Nearn

      Prudent is a word that should be used more often. The problem with Superannuation is that in one breath they say save for your own super, and if you can then they want to hit you hard for having money put aside.

      I thought the original article at least posed an interesting question about levelling the playing field and giving all people access to a livable pension. Those with more lifetime savings can then handle that without special super concessions.

      At least it is simple - which would be a nice change from the debacle of Family Tax / Baby Bonus etc. If you cleared ALL of this administration out you could pay families a simple "family allowance" and let them get on with managing their own income and expenses.

      Not rocket science - but not sexy either...so won't buy any votes.

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  5. Stephen Prowse

    Research Advisor at Wound CRC

    I think that the author should declare his retirement status, being at ANU and approaching retirement, perhaps he is looking at a lifelong indexed CSS pension?

    The author writes "That means for starters getting rid of tax rorts like the superannuation tax concessions that overwhelmingly favour the very wealthy".

    A rort is a scam, fraud or financial impropriety. Making superannuation contributions within the law is not a rort. The current superannuation system has allowed many elderly Australians…

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  6. Michael Brown

    Professional, academic, company director

    In fact the Treasury estimates of tax concessions of 30 billion increasing to 45 billion are so vague as to be meaningless. They say in their statement: "tax expenditure estimates will tend to overstate the budgetary impact of removing concessions as the estimates do not take account of behavioural responses". This means that if the super tax arrangements are changed, people won't simply leave their investments the same and pay the extra tax - they'll invest elsewhere in more tax effective ways. So the tax concessions are in reality hugely less than you've said.

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Michael Brown

      Not really Michael. What they are saying is that - at the moment you are looking at a $30 billion outlay in tax foregone on superannuation (that can be accurately determined) but that estimates of future outlays "will tend to overstate" the claw back because they cannot estimate how many folks would reduce their super contributions as a result of the changes.

      Changing behaviour in response to a decision or impact is one of the great confounding variables of economic modelling.

      Nothing about "meaningless" - nothing about folks running off to find some other way to milk the tax system.... and if they do find some new ones - beaut - the ATO is getting very good at following this stuff and the opportunities outside legitimate - dare I say productive - economic activity - are getting very limited indeed.

      Soaking the tax system for a comfortable retirement is neither fair nor reasonable. Nor is it economically efficient.

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    2. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter. Are we talking about the same people milking a tax system that already they very disproportionally contribute to anyway? I find the argument incongruous. Remember that the top 10% of income earners in this country already pay about 130 billion $ in personal income tax, some 45% + of the total personal income tax take paid by the 9 million or so personal income tax payers. That group certainly contribute much, much more than their 'fair share' on a person-to-person basis. I used to be in that…

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      No Kim not the same people at all. These folks using super to lower their taxable incomes could be right on the bottom of the taxable income scales... the amount you stick in can be essentially discretionary... and the whole goal is to lower your tax bracket, that's where the returns really climb.

      So it won't be those hard working high end PAYE sloggers who are picking up the tab for this - it'll be quiet little folks like Mrs Eddie Obeid who received a nice little dividend of $1.3 million from…

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    4. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes - that group! GST reform would catch them nicely. Top-bracket lifestyles spending on whatever - they would pay a lot more and not escape their fair contribution, no matter how you packaged it. $1.3 million spent on niceties = $206,000.00 of tax paid at a GST rate of 20%. ....... Good prudent govt revenue I would have thought. Multiply that x 10,000 people [ the top 1% of earners ] = 20 billion $ + all the trust turnover economic activity. Now we are talking!

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  7. Rex Gibbs

    Engineer/Director

    You cannot create wealth by dividing it, So said Churchill. You could just as easily say that $60billion was foregone as $30bn - If one decided 75% of contributions was reasonable.

    This is not worthy of the Conversation. The shallow 'entitlements' mentality reflected here almost sent SA broke in the 1990's. The SA Government embraced the defined contributions model and saved the State from a situation where the entitlements were going to exceed state income by 2006. Although I think Keating…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      So let's see - you folks all plan to put away enough cash to keep you comfortable for 30+ years ... then what?

      Nursing homes are very expensive places to live Rex. I doubt your super will cover it... so it'll be back to the taxpayer again won't it?

      No if we really want to get into serious retirement planning that's really the first issue isn't it. How long? A fixed term contract I reckon and as soon as our self-funded retirees start forgetting the car keys and leaving the stove on we cash 'em in. Distribute any residual to the slavering rellies.

      Let's have a serious stab at self-funded retirement living. Let's all paddle our own canoes.

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    2. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Rex, we already divide wealth here, rich people get more entitlements than sole parents. Day 4 and 5 working can earn them 5 Cents each. The shallow entitlements debate only happens amongst the wealthy here.

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    3. Rex Gibbs

      Engineer/Director

      In reply to Alice Kelly

      I earn less than $100k but more than gets me any school benefits for my kids who are in high school and 1st year uni. I don't begrudge that. We never got childcare payments and so working full time was on the face of it a zero sum game for my wife for 6 years as you say. From a purely financial perspective after transport costs and the expenses of working it made more sense to stay home.But it wasn't really because my kids were better socialised , my wife did what she enjoyed with people she enjoyed…

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    4. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      No you're dead right Rex - you did exactly what Hawke and Keating were promoting - as did anyone brought into the compulsory super system. Not so much as a retirement income strategy I might add, more because it gave everyone a pay rise or two but insulated its inflationary effects by locking it away - a Clayton's pay rise.

      A warm inner glow payrise, Mr Keating. Linked to the GFC to boot.

      And I cannot imagine that Gillard or even the most zealous tax officer would be wanting to target anything…

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    5. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Rex Gibbs

      Sorry Rex, just cleaning the kitchen. You're more wealthy than me, but not that wealthy. Now I've got that axe to grind, or is it a chain-saw.

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  8. John Davidson

    Retired engineer

    Is it no co-incidence that the big drop of support for the ALP occurred just after they shafted the single mums? You don't have to be poor to believe in social justice.
    It is hard to publicly support the ALP when they lack the guts to pay for disability insurance and the other good things they want to do by cancelling some of the unsustainable Howard tax cuts and removed the lurks that allow the better off to reduce the tax they pay.
    The superannuation lurks are a good example of what they should attack.

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    1. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to John Davidson

      Hi, John. I agree. Means testing all hand-outs started by largely Howard. I believe Peter was unhappy about some at the time. Negative gearing, that's a massively corrupt conversation we could have. It changed the more egalitarian face of Australia in one fell swoop. As did increasing the first home owners grant. Boom-time!
      When I told the sole-parent families I knew some years ago, I was moving to the beautiful hovel I'd bought at the time with cash, their faces. Pure hopelessness.
      Nothing to do with the "politics of envy" or some such ignorant poppycock.

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    2. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to John Davidson

      Yes, of course. If you earn more $ its not really yours according to communists; it really belongs to people who cant be bothered working hard or long hrs.

      By the way, how did that brilliant philosophy work out for China & USSR & Nth Korea etc? 40 million dead in China & USSR alone. Great, let have that nonsense here as well.

      My parents came from communist country - they know the reality of socialism is nothing like the rose coloured BS being thrown around these days in the west. It is very…

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  9. Chris O'Neill

    Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

    The fundamental problem with superannuation tax concessions is that the higher your marginal tax rate, the greater your superannuation tax benefit. The obvious way to remove this problem is to give a fixed rebate percentage on super contributions that form part of your taxable income.

    I wonder why they don't do that?

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    1. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Or flatten the tax rates
      i.e. tax - free threshold $25,000.00
      $25,001.00 to $150,000.00 at 28% - just below company & trust tax rate.
      $150,001.00+ 40% & leave it at that & raise & broaden GST & leave Super alone.

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    2. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "Or flatten the tax rates" "& leave Super alone"

      That's like saying two wrongs make a right.

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    3. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      I will need you to clarify that one for me please Chris. I see nothing wrong fundamentally with the Super system as we have it but with increased contributions as proposed. I see nothing wrong with clear & simplified and minimally progressive personal tax rates with low income group relief & disincentives to use companies & trust structures.

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    4. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "I see nothing wrong fundamentally with the Super system as we have it"

      If you don't see the problem that this article is about, "Current super concessions favour the wealthy", then I can't help you.

      By the way, your proposal makes little difference to super concessions favouring high income earners.

      Also, I'd like to live in an ideal world too where we could arbitrarily make big reductions to income tax revenue without any means of making up the loss of tax revenue. Unfortunately, I know we don't live in an ideal world.

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    5. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      As I have said in other posts in this blog, broaden and increase the GST. I also feel that the lessons of history, especially those of the Russian Revolution are being forgotten. Destroy all incentive, eliminate all opportunity to reap benefit from ones increase in skills, knowledge, experience and effort by creating a completely equal society and see what happens. Of course, to make everything very equitable, we have to eliminate those with skills, knowledge & experience deemed as 'too good' to…

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    6. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Of course, Chris, the politicians could say "pay the appropriate tax on your income and then what is left you may spend wherever you wish - super, property, the Bahamas.
      Then turn the whole taxation system into a flat tax, so that the person on $50,000 pays the same rate as the one on $500,000. Minimal deductions could be allowed - like wages paid to employees, but not those paid to some Trust or spouse specifically to avoid tax payments.
      This sort of thinking will never emanate from Canberra…

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Ah but that's not what happens with a "flat tax" Kim. Not in practice. You nudge at it with the need for disincentives to exempt any and all taxes on wealth. This is a class warfare tax system.

      There's a neat piece on flat taxes and why this simple idea took 417 pages to explain in a recent UK report to the Tory government - not simple at all ... what is exempt? what is deductible? how are profits and dividend regarded? http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/22/flat-taxes-taxpayers-alliance

      But more it is the notion of vertical equity behind a progressive tax system that is worth hanging onto - the idea that someone earning $20K a year has a much lower capacity to pay tax of say 2K while a person on $100K would spend that on lunch and has a higher disposable income - some of which should be disposed of over here. It is about equity what is fair - not what is equal.

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    8. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I think that you need to reread your guardian link Peter. A straight flat personal income tax replacing everything is different to what I am suggesting.

      Tax free threshold increases to compensate for GST, flat tax across the majority of incomes, slightly lower than trust & company taxes, a higher flat tax for the "wealthy". I suppose that you could put in a punitive tax rate of 75%+ for everyone who earns more than the Prime Minister. I suspect that you would see many like Gérard Xavier Marcel…

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    9. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Yes Kim you could be right - that you could design a sufficiently broad tax regime that applied a flat rate of tax on income but captured wealth and was equitable.

      But to do so it must ensure that those with a greater capacity to pay - those who have benefited most from the opportunities on offer here - pay a fair portion of their disposable income in taxes. And that we collect them cheaply and efficiently.

      I've always been attracted to differential GST rates myself ... a software modification - low rates for goods, high rates for bads... that sort of thing.

      Tell me something Kim - does having super make a lot of difference do you think? It's just as I get older the less I need or want.

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    10. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Unfortunately in our current society, I do believe that it is a necessary evil. My parents are self - funded retirees with no super & are still active in managing their investments well into their 85s+. They have few & simple wants and mange well - a great but rare example to us all.

      Unfortunately, there are not too many in our society who fit this mould. There are far too many who still expect that they deserve a pension provided by someone else - something that our country cannot afford in the changing demographic with so many of us living so long because of the advances etc. brought on and administered by my profession. Without super, our country will end up like the Ukraine - pension = 1100 to 1300 Hryvnai per month [about AU$ 140.00 per month] and few if any other benefits. I also gladly help support my parents-in-law in Zaporozhye with a few little luxuries - they otherwise 'manage'!

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    11. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Ouch - another typo sorry the Ukraine pension is per person so as a couple, they receive about AU$ 280.00 per month. It sounds much better in Hryvnai!

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    12. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Not really Kim - I regard it in exactly the same manner you would regard your super ... not paid for by someone else - but by me and my grandparents.

      See Kim while we allow a tax deduction for super contributions - super is not in any way "self-funded"... it is tax funded or subsidised in revenue foregone on that income. It's really inefficient and tends to skew things towards those with spare income.

      And I can't really see how anyone -save the super affluent and tax-averse - really are much better off. It provides an illusion of security - like private health insurance - and in the end the choice is rather illusory.

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    13. Alice Kelly
      Alice Kelly is a Friend of The Conversation.

      sole parent

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Kim, nobody here is suggesting socialism gone mad, rather that concessions should not favour the rich. We are losing sight of fairness and equity, as a society.
      One thought is that nobody in a society needs a wage more than 10X a low wage. I think Japan sets wages a bit like this, so the head of Japan airlines receives this sort of relative wage. He doesn't complain about his wage not being equal to the head of Qantas, he's wealthy by comparison.
      I couldn't care less about the conversation when it's limited to superannuation. It's broader than that.
      I probably prefer George Orwell to Stalin, Pol Pot, or Churchill, "All beasts are equal, but some are more equal than others"
      Failing this, my axe and chainsaw are now ready.

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    14. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Michael Hay

      "This sort of thinking will never emanate from Canberra because we are saddled with political candidates selected by our narrow-minded political parties."

      I think there's a little bit more to it than that. Like the concept of progressive taxation, for a start.

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    15. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "broaden and increase the GST"

      The GST would need to be hugely increased to replace the income tax revenue foregone by your proposal. And in spite of what some appear to believe, GST has a similar effect on incentive as income tax. The bottom line difference about your proposal is to make the tax system less progressive. I'm not interested in arguing that issue here.

      "land tax"

      Very few people in Australia pay an economically appropriate rate of land tax. Land tax is one of the most economically-efficient…

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    16. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Do the numbers please Chris, read the ATO annual report, the Henry tax review and read what a large number of the countries of the rest of the world do. Please especially note the Scandanavian countries & the Netherlands. .......... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates. ...... and remember that only about 40% of the Australian population actually pay income tax but virtually everybody and every company, trust etc pay GST. .... much more broad, fair & equitable.
      And, if you want to see an abrupt end to rental property availability & a collapse in state revenue for services, bring on the universal land tax federally administered. Ouch.

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    17. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "Please especially note the Scandanavian countries & the Netherlands."

      Could you tell me what your point is?

      "virtually everybody and every company, trust etc pay GST"

      Trusts that distribute all income pay no tax of any kind. Companies that sell goods and services don't "pay" GST, they collect it for the government.

      "And, if you want to see an abrupt end to rental property availability & a collapse in state revenue for services, bring on the universal land tax federally administered…

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    18. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Hi Chris,
      I do read extensively. I have 4 trusts [discretionary, testamentary & unit trusts] and 5 companies. I know exactly what taxes they pay. My structures are for medico-legal protection in an increasingly hostile environment and for effective tax management. I have paid land tax and managed commercial & residential properties and their attendent holding costs for years. I have employed many people under awards and individual contracts. I have been involved in collaborative large development…

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    19. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "They fund these policies with GSTs/VATs in the order of 20%!!"

      They have higher income taxes too so I still don't know what your point is.

      It's interesting that you advise me to read the Henry tax review but don't seem to understand the economic effect of land tax. Perhaps you should take your own advice, in particular: http://taxreview.treasury.gov.au/content/finalreport.aspx?doc=html/publications/papers/final_report_part_1/chapter_12.htm

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    20. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Sorry I spoke Chris. I bow to your superior experience, comprehension & understanding.

      Bye KB

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    21. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      You obviously have no idea what you r talking about if you you have to cop out of providing facts & feign superior knowledge.

      How old r you, 18?

      .

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    22. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Sorry I tried to provide arguments and citations to you Kim. Obviously you don't like it when someone shows that you're a hypocrite, telling me to read Henry when you don't do it yourself. There is no doubt now that I was right when I said "Perhaps you're someone who thinks they know it all already and you're only here to tell other people what's right and what's wrong."

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    23. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Kim,

      That's a bit pointless posting a link to an article behind Rupert's Great Paywall... can't read a thing other than the first two pars....

      And no you won't be tempting me to cough up for a subscription to the Oz ... it was bad enough when it was free.

      Give us the giblets of the thing.

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    24. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Actually I've managed to track down 3 separate reports of the Mercer report ...

      First up Mercer is a superannuation management company. They have a vested commercial interest in increased government incentives for super contributions.

      The report itself points out that the greatest benefits of such concessions accrue to higher income earners who have more disposable income to invest.

      Lastly they are not actually comparing levels of "government generosity" but rather the size of payouts to individuals in 8 countries. This is not simply a function of generous tax treatment but of a wide range of variables including income and supporting policies such as health care and pension supports.

      Why newspapers make rotten sources Kim. Especially when they are re-hashing press handouts from companies with a barrow to push. Lazy stuff.

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    25. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I await with interest for well thought out, logical and positive contributions to these conversations.

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  10. George Naumovski

    Online Political Activist

    With the “Single mums payments” reform, it was easy to do and the majority does not care because it does not affect them!

    If they taxed the rich, then the Coalition would scream class warfare and Communism but also there are much more wealthy people and wealthy retirees then single mums and so the votes are much more.

    The best tax reform is the RSPT and other super profits taxes on the Business elites!

    The ALP needs to rectify this and stop being like the LNP on policies such as tax reforms.

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    1. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to George Naumovski

      1. Get a job. Stop leaching off the tax payer.
      2. show the stats about single parents being outnumbered by the rich. That has never ever been the case in the history of mankind. The poor always out number the rich.
      3. Stop being sexist. Single dads r affected too.

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  11. David Jones

    Engineer

    Am I the only person who remembers the Reasonable Benefit Limit ?

    This was a perfectly equitable arrangement to limit abuse of superannuation by the wealthy. The super system was broken when it was removed.

    Can we have it back please.

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to David Jones

      "The super system was broken when it was removed."

      Indeed. I'd say the vast majority of the screwing around with the super tax regime since Costello was because of the changes he introduced.

      "the Reasonable Benefit Limit"

      It's interesting to contemplate that far fewer people would have been affected by the RBL once the GFC happened.

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  12. Robert McDougall

    Small Business Owner

    ok, so this really comes down to is it an equitable system? Are you divested of any responsibility to society once you retire?

    someone who is on $50K a year would normally pay 32.5% in tax, with superannuation contributions taxed at 15%, representing a 17.5% saving in tax on the foregone income.

    Someone who is on $180k or more would normally pay 45% in tax, with superannuation contributions taxed at 15% representing a 30% saving in tax on the foregone income.

    So not only does the person…

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    1. Stephen Prowse

      Research Advisor at Wound CRC

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      I'd say a fairer system is that your get a flat 15% discount of the rate you would normally pay i.e. in the case of $180K, they would pay 30% on their superannuation.

      At last a suggestion that makes sense. However as someone who has saved hard, is modestly well off, is approaching retirement and plans to be self funded, its about time politicians with $$$ spinning in their eyes looked outside their own indexed pension plans and stopped moving the goal posts.

      In addition, from my reading today, treasury does not model the impact of driving more people onto the aged pension, just foregone tax.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      politicans double dip, not only do they enjoy the benefits of the superannuation system they set up, they also get significant superannuation above what anyone else would enjoy, they also get a tax free pension for life normally in 6 digits, allowances and other perks including free travel.

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    3. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      They should abolish the super scheme for pollies ... it's not a job it's a privilege.

      And part of the deal should be living out your days on the bare pension.. live with your legacy.

      Or even better 2 terms and back into the workforce (and super stream) you go.

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  13. Eddy Schmid

    Retired

    Very interesting article, and posts, however I feel posters are missing the elephant in the room.Nearly every post deals with the super/proposed legislation, all posters miss the point entirely, that should the 950,000 rich be subject to this proposal, EVERY MEMBER OF CURRENT GOVT will automatically fit into that requirement.
    Therefore, no-one need to wonder why this proposal will NEVER see the light of day.
    Can anyone here seriously imaging any of sitting Govt members allowing their taxes to be increased ???? LOL.
    That's only something for the peasantsand rabble rousers like the folks reading and posting stuff on here. LOL.

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  14. Peter Evans

    Retired

    By definition the larger the tax concession then the greater the efforts to take advantage of it. I know as a retiree with super I can now take advantage of concessions that I only dreamed about when I worked. The other concession that is not mentioned is that when a retiree receives an allocated pension no matter what the size it is not counted as taxable income. Keep your money in super, get a sizable tax free allocated pension and still be eligible for the aged pension with all the attendant benefits like health card. By the way I do not and never will receive the aged pension but I know of others that structure the super benefits so they receive at least a small aged pension and benefits!

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  15. Peter Sommerville

    Scientist & Technologist

    I love these articles by cloistered academics. I am looking forward to the author, in retirement, living on $30,000 per year. I also find strange the definition of wealth, in terms of superannuation balances, of $800,000 to $1,000,000, when the real measure is what income these balances can generate.

    What the author ignores is the costs saved to tax payers because individuals and partners have saved sufficient to keep them off the public teet. This was the intention of the Hawke & Keating governments, an inconvenient fact conveniently forgotten because we have a profligate government unable to maintain a modicum of financial prudence.

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    1. Lucy

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      I don't understand what you mean. I'd expect academics to have more of a sense of what it's like to live on less than $30,000 per year than a lot of people - from when they did that as PhD students, or maybe again if there was a gap between postdocs, or when they're semi-retired and just doing casual tutoring?

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  16. John C Smith

    Auditor

    An article with a Socialist-Fabians slant and lively comments with real life matters. With tax and retirement the basics have changed over the years. With what you get for your labour you pay for day to day living and put aside a bit for retirement. Those bits will add up to form a capital base to live on retirement. So before the “Accord”, Super was not taxed and there were tax concessions for the bits you put aside. If the Super came out as a Lump, only 5% of it was subject to tax and if the Lump…

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    1. John C Smith

      Auditor

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Sorry Robert.
      I was trying to show how the Superannuation rip off poor workers. Let the rich enjoy what ever they can get or given.
      Let the poor enojoy the crumbs they are given without taking back about 10% of the crumbs back to feed the rich.
      What I have written is not fiction and the Author of this article should respond.

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  17. Malcolm Nearn

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Can I clear up some misconceptions about self-managed super funds? 1) Nobody can put in more than $25,000 extra per annum. 2) I was made redundant at the age of 57, and on the advice of my former employers, I rolled over my accrued super into a fund managed by a financial planner. It did not take long for me to realise that I was paying fees of 3-4% of my capital, regardless of whether the capital had grown or decreased in the preceding year. During the year my financial adviser had not advised me…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Malcolm Nearn

      Yep those limits were reduced in 2012-2013. But for the preceding year if you were over 50, you could sink $50K a year as I recall. And the $50k cap will return in 2014 apparently.

      If you were 50 years old or over, your annual cap for the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial years was $100,000. If you were 50 years old or over, your annual cap for the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years was $50,000.

      But the sad fact remains that as a social security policy private super is very inefficient and costly... as a tool of economic strategy/wages policy is another matter. The maximum tax benefits go to those with the greatest disposable income - socialism for the well-off.

      That's why they like it. One would. I just don't think the rest of us should pay the relatively wealthy for being sensible and saving up.

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    2. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      you've just given me a great idea. how about instead of paying money into private super, instead the federal government introduced "super bonds", managed by ATO i.e. government bonds with the guaranteed rate of return, no fees, no fund managers, no stock market fluctuations, no unnecesary insurances.

      This would then provide the federal governmnet with money to invest in infrastructure, protects peoples investments and stops people being ripped off by dodgy funds and their parasites.

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    3. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Unfortunately govts cant be trusted with our $. They'll spend it on social security instead when push comes to shove.

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    4. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Not if they are purposed solely for social infrastructure.

      On welfare, I don't mind contributing to the welfare of our least advantaged. I don't even mind "dole bludgers", if someone wants to live in the depths of poverty, good luck.

      Society and the economy can only function effectively though stability, indeed is dependent on stability, that is what the welfare system really supports.

      Government super bonds would certainly have one major effect, cuts out the parasites that currently infect the superannuation

      As these funds generally charge 2% of the balance in fees, someone with $500k would save $10000 per year, compounded that's a lot extra in the kitty when you retire.

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    5. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Unfortunately welfare has become a lifestyle choice rather than an emergency backstop. The 'entitlement' mentality is growing which inevitably collapses a nation. It always seems harmless to boost welfare to the so called disadvantaged, but it sends a signal to them that they can live even better on welfare than on low paying jobs, so why bother working, while to others it says that the harder you work the more you get taxed to fund lazy people, so why bother working long hrs away form YOUR family…

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    6. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert Attila

      thats a touch on the callous side imo.

      i suppose it comes down to what kind of welfare youre talking about. When we look at middle and upper class welfare, sure, cut that one out. Not too hard to realise that a family on $150k doesn't really need access to welfare, i remember an article when one family on that income level complaining they were doing it hard as they were unable to take a family european holiday every year, or couldnt afford to do some renovations.

      for good or ill, a certain…

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    7. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      "Part of a healthy society is looking after and treating with compassion those less fortunate."

      Precisely Robert.

      How we treat the weak and vulnerable is what separates a real society from barbarism. And it seems there area lot of barbarians about of late.

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    8. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Agree entirely, but the debate is not about abolishing SS but apportioning it for the right reasons to the right people. Short-term poor deserve help, long-term dont.

      I would say there r a lot of cowardice & jealousy about of late as well. Its easy to take pot shots at successful people, ignoring all the traumas they pushed thru that the poor havent bothered to. Its easy to dish out their $, how about these do-gooders dish out their own. Its also disrespectful to ignore their sacrifices & only…

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    9. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Its in no way callous. I havent advocated abolishing SS, just to apportion it to the right people for the right length of time.

      Anyone can be poor for many reasons, so SS should be there to keep them afloat while they get themselves back onto their feet. That is compassionate.

      Long-term poor who r not infirm have no LEGITIMATE excuses, & do not deserve special consideration that the tax payer doesnt get.

      Advocating 'conditions' cannot be considered callous unless u advocate unrestricted…

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    10. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      Just reread some of my reply, its not meant to sound agro or some such. The capitalized words are just to highlight something so its not missed.

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    11. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert Attila

      i think you may need to look up the word "compassion", i am surprised at your approach given the revelation of what your family has had to endure.

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    12. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      It is so refreshing to read Rob Ks comments. He clearly displays passion for life, self respect, true appreciation of his opportunities and of his family & cultural nurturing AND obviously understands compassion from a very personal point of view. He, like many of us, truly are happy to work, contribute proportionately to our society and be voluntarily charitable when we can. But I do detect a frustrated anger at the current societal trait of stealing that which is left for the wealth creator to "compassionately" give to the so-called still poor & deprived until the wealth creator is poor, not only of wealth but also of the spirit to continue on.
      Sobeit.

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    13. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      You still refuse to counter any of my arguments & logic etc so simply stating i lack compassion is unfounded, unproven, & a childish attempt at using emotive language to score points.

      maybe i am not making myself clear, or you r just interpreting my words from YOUR perspective, experience, etc not mine.

      Just because i disagree with your (or anyone's view) doesnt automatically mean i dont have compassion.

      Re-read what i have said. The jist is that we have social security in AUS. Maybe more is required & better targeted, but not lifelong as you imply. That is not heartless, only realistic. Its also hypocritical to give the poor favored status above everyone else. That is discriminatory.

      I would argue that you have misplaced compassion. The poor & starving in Africa or in times past around the world had very limited choice or opportunity, class suppression, etc. They deserve compassion & help. That is NOT the case here. immigrants prove this day in day put.

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    14. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      Thank you Kim,

      yes there is definitely an underground of jealously based no doubt on their ignorance, lack of achievement, & a deep down understanding that everyone in this country can be well off IF they did what it takes. Since few r willing to make the sacrifices to do so the minority groups find it morally easier to steal from the well off by labeling them as faceless rich who no doubt stole & abused the system to get to "the top". Robin hood mentality no doubt.

      they completely ignore that fact that a large number of poor people have become well off by working very hard etc. This is an "inconvenient truth" they haven't the guts to acknowledge since it will make their "victim" mentality much harder to use as a crutch or excuse for staying poor rather than taking one of the many opportunities that have existed for the past 15 yrs.

      Good luck Kim, I can see we'll need it sooner or later.... if history is anything to go by...

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    15. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      My family, & many like them r meant to be an example that we DONT NEED social security in most cases (especially if you r born) in a wealthy country with plenty of opportunities, irrespective of whether you r born rich or poor. You just need a work ethic not a leech/victim ethic.

      Is that the sum total of your argument "lack of compassion', one your havent even proven??

      Compassion BTW, is society providing opportunities for its citizens to work & build a life for themselves, not hand feeding them. Compassion has NOTHING to do with providing people an all expenses paid life long holiday on the back of the tax payer.

      The rights of the tax payer, many of whom r poor, r being trampled by you. How is that compassionate?

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    16. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Compassion is the understanding or empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism —foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood. (wikepedia)

      The issues you raise are very complex, and i was not about to get into a passionate debate about it in this forum.

      At no point did i state that you lacked compassion (perhaps you do need to re-read my post).

      Everyone…

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    17. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert Attila

      i do take great offense to your accusation that i am trampling over the rights of the poor.

      It is unecessarily antagonistic, and defamatory. And you demean yourself by doing so.

      BTW, i am also a tax payer who is making their own way and as a single white male get absolutely NOTHING from the government.

      Operating a small business in the current economy also means that i essentially get less income than i would if i was on the dole. Nontheless, i don't begrudge help being provided to those that need it.

      I re-iterate, you need to re-understand the word "compassion" from your post you seem to be confusing it with economic opportunities.

      "compassion" has NOTHING to do with money. And if you truly think that Newstart is a lifelong holiday, then you are severly deluded.

      Now I am angry.

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    18. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      BTW instead of attacking those least advantaged in our society, you should be reserving your ire for the ridiculous amount of middle and upper class welfare that seems to permeate our society these days.

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    19. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      I know that I must be out of touch with the real world but can this debate please be illuminated as to what is middle & upper class welfare? Tax deductions as social & economic engineering tools are not welfare - just tools to influence & manipulate spending & savings patterns. Taxes are essential to run our society and I will reiterate that the top 10% of earners in our country [about 950,000 people out of 23.5 million people] already pay as personal income tax [ this does not include all the other…

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    20. Robert McDougall

      Small Business Owner

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      things can be labelled differently but still have the same effect in practice. The Top 10% or earners can take advantage of existing structures to minimise tax payable, sometimes resulting in them paying less tax than someone working for Maccas.

      When I refer to middle/upper class welfare, i'm talking about non-means tested baby bonuses, Family tax benefits, school bonuses, childcare rebates, medical insurance rebates, negative gearing, superannuation contribution tax treatments for those on sufficient…

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    21. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      OK. It is really a gross distortion of the use of the word to call these types of social engineering financial instruments 'welfare' but if you must, sobeit.

      I have no great disagreement with the simplification of our lives by completely removing rebates, benefits, bonuses etc. as long as it is not discriminatory. There are some historical lessons well learnt by past Labor Governments what the result of the elimination of negative gearing would be.

      None of these other financial instruments…

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    22. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      "It is sounding more & more like the years just before the Russian Revolution..."

      Aw geez Kim ... the air is fair filled with establishment denunciations of Rasputin and anarchist plots against the Romanovs, the Kulaks are imposing taxes of the supposedly "emancipated" serfs, the country is rife with famine, inflation and economic collapse and the army is in open revolt against the Great War... frankly Kim none of this is sounding remotely familiar in the current context.

      There's a decent bit of scene setting for Russia 1917 here:http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/russiaandukraine/a/Causes-Of-The-Russian-Revolution.htm

      I would be most cautious about announcing an imminent rising of the masses - the Australian peasants, soldiers and fledgling proletariat - unless things start to look much more like Moscow 1916. We don't know what a problem looks like Kim.

      Talk about hyperbowl! Getting yourself all worked up.

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    23. Kim Bulwinkel
      Kim Bulwinkel is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Retired regional medical specialist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      As is usual with your posts Peter, there is little or no contribution to the conversation, just unfortunately snide, supercilliously delivered & usually patronising personal denigration of other participants.

      Please tend to your orchard and earn enough to pay a few taxes.

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    24. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      "i think you may need to look up the word "compassion", i am surprised at your approach given the revelation of what your family has had to endure."

      The implication is that i am not compassionate, so dont pretend to be all innocent now that i called you on it. I found your accusation offensive. Its not a one way street you know.

      So dont start throwing around emotive words if you dont want to get them back.

      Compassion etc r meaningless anyway, like art, it is in the eye of the beholder…

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    25. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      the middle & upper class pay more tahn their fair share of tax.

      Find the $ somewhere else.. or dont spend it. simple.

      I have a go at every sectror, not just the poor, but also middle & upper, incl the global elite. But thats on other forums.

      must go, wife getting annoyed, & very dangerous...

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    26. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      It's just that you're letting yourself get swept away with your own hysteria Kim .... what do you mean Australia 2013 sounds like pre-revolutionary Russia - who are the Mensheviks? Where are the Bolsheviks? Who is Raputin, Where is WW1 and the kulaks?
      In short what on earth are you trying to say? Who is Lenin? Where are the Narodniks and the anarchists?

      Only someone with no notion of history could make such a spectactularly silly comparison Kim ... stick to the bone fixing business and…

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    27. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Kim Bulwinkel

      If our PM can call it "hyperbowl" then it's good enough for me Kim ... it was oddly enough one of my odd little jokes at our PM's expense. See how balanced I am?

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    28. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Robert McDougall

      hmm , dont follow. did u respond to me by accident?

      BTW, i know what compassion is & i have it, however you fail to provide facts or specifics. How would u be compassionate, to whom, for how long, when would it stop?

      if you cant provide specific examples or statements at least then it seems like you r simply making motherhood statements.

      a "feel good" platitude, usually by a politician, about a worthy concept that few people would disagree with, without any specified plans for realisation. For example, "Our country must contribute to world peace." Wiktionary

      try to attack my statements directly & specifically. MH statements r not viable responses, if you truly care that is. If i am wrong i want to know. Me pushing barrels for the sake of it is illogical IMO.

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  18. Pamela H.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    'Degeneration' towards the Right. Let's hope they do something about this before the election when the Extreme Right could take over and send this country completely back to a time of Lords and Serfs.

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    1. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Pamela H.

      Or better yet, degeneration toward the Left. Let's hope they do something about this before the election when the Extreme Left could take over and send this country completely back to a time of Mao & Stalin, when 40 million people died from starvation (from inept socialist policies) & concentration camps for political prisoners. Brilliant...

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    2. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Jings ...Mao and Stalin or Lords and Serfs ... who says there's no choice in modern politics?

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  19. margaret m

    old lady

    Did Mr Abbott vote against this change?

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  20. margaret m

    old lady

    Until we all realise that any debate that is lacking all the relevant information is going to be flawed and until we have a media that is held to account to tell all the whole truth and not use language or adaulterated facts to sway public opinion to who's advantage? our decisions and opinions will be hampered by that fact. Business, unions and government can do whatever but without a serious media able or interested to contribute wisely and thoroughly to any debate we are as a democracy in trouble. There are people who do not rely on what they are fed by the television, radio and papers some do research and understand the jargon which gives them an advantage bit for the majority we need the interpretation.

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  21. margaret m

    old lady

    IT is a pity that as usual we will all be focused while ignoring the whole picture and end up throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am discussed at the rampant greed and opportunistic self centred happenings in our country, the world and to my opinion so much manipulation and abuse of power but that is globalisation and business see a loop hole seen an opportunity minimse your costs maximise your profits. Much is legal but morally is debatable. If illegal at least it can be exposed and dealt with.

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  22. Guy Cox

    logged in via email @guycox.com

    This is really nonsensical, but then so has been all the debate on this topic in many other media outlets. If people live on ther superannuation (ie their own savings) they don't get the government pension so it is a total gain to the state revenue. Seems like a no-brainer. But Australia has tried to put triple taxation on super - taxing the contributions, taxing the earnings of the fund, and then taxing the payout. (The last is now - maybe not for long) abolished. No other country has done…

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    1. Chris O'Neill

      Victim of Tony Abbotts Great Big New Tax

      In reply to Guy Cox

      "If people live on ther superannuation (ie their own savings) they don't get the government pension"

      No, you have to earn a fair bit of income before the pension is cut off completely.

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  23. margaret m

    old lady

    Just reading comments with serfs and lords and then someone referred to stalin etc we once as taxpayers owned income generating assets run by governments both Liberal and Labor. Those assets paid for provided good services employment stability. Allowed our governments power to act in the national interest not be subject to courting and subsidising big business. We had a media that was interested and expected to provided information the tabloid style media is all we have now. entertainng opinion…

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    1. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to margaret m

      Hi Margaret,

      i agree very much with most of your post. Apart from Q&A, etc, there r few real debates on TV. Reality TV & electronic diversions is the trend unfortunately.

      Politics has been corrupted in US (probably everywhere to some degree). It is no longer illegal to bribe senators for example. It is now called campaign contributions. Judges r now ex senior financial officers placed there by politicians to push through dubious proposals.

      Several constitutional rights have been abolished…

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  24. Robert Attila

    Business Analyst

    Want to know why EVERYONE has to be productive, ie, no leeches?

    "The EU Crisis is BACK and Will Be Getting Worse in the Coming Weeks

    The only item that held Europe together in 2012 was the credibility of EU politicians and ECB President Mario Draghi. Please note that nothing fundamental improved for the EU's financial system: EU GDP has since re-entered a recession and EU unemployment has a hit a new record.
    Indeed, the only reason things even looked better was because various Government engaged…

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    1. Peter Ormonde

      Farmer

      In reply to Robert Attila

      Gee Rob - what sort of business do you analyse?

      The reason I ask is that I just pulled a par out of "your" post above and stuck it into google and low and behold it's everywhere... word for word.

      The par was the one beginning ..."Note in the above story that former Spanish Treasurer Luis Bárcenas ...

      Now why would a hard nosed business analyst be spending their time cutting and pasting from the likes Zerohedge, Redliontraders,
      pftrades, commodities first, stockfirst, mortgage fraud examiners, gains pains capital and yet more ... and dress it up like it's his own views words or thoughts.

      Don't be so lazy.

      I would want my business analysed by someone not given to pinching stuff Rob.

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    2. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      All sorts actually, like nature businesses run organically & cyclically, as taught in Production Mgt unit at uni.

      Anyway, i wasnt lazy, just efficient. And i did QUOTE it & attribute it near the end as "Graham Summers (Gain, Pains & Capital)".

      BTW, i dont care where info comes from as long as it is accurate & correct. This is not a debating class or an assignment at school. Plagiarism is irrelevant in this forum unless trying to portray something as your own, which i wasn't.

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    3. Robert Attila

      Business Analyst

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Best not to use emotive terms like "hard-nosed" lest i throw some back at you. I presume u r not trying to be offensive but its the thin edge of a wedge.

      This discussion should be limited to facts & logic, not name calling.

      I will also stop saying "leeches" for example.

      problem is that the authors set the bad example/tone with emotive phrases like "rich white men suckling of the teet of govt".
      "time to fight back"
      "luks"
      etc etc etc

      The article is clearly biased & caters to emotions rather than facts.

      I am surprised they were allowed to to get away with it by the moderators. gee i wonder why?......... ;)

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  25. margaret m

    old lady

    Rob K & all:Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read your thoughts & comments. I certainly do not like the tone of division in this article. It appears to be an all out effort to divide the community. I think we are a wealthy country but are becoming mean spirited I was shocked with Labor's move to take single parents off of that benefit to the proven if we believe what we read Newstart a payment below poverty line. I live in the country and many unskilled jobs and factories…

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