||Issue No. 210||27 February 2004|
Rock Of Ages
Interview: Trading in Principle
Unions: While We Were Away
Politics: Follow the Leader
Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
History: Worker Control Harco Style
Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
Taking The Piss
Tom Goes Off I
Tom Goes Off II
Rock Of Ages
Faced with an issue two generations in the making - the size and longevity of our Baby Boomer population base - the government has offered us nothing more than a quick fix, a means of shifting the aging population into a different column on the national balance sheet.
There is no argument that the superannuation system - the enduring legacy of the Accord years - is a national asset that should be freed up to maximise its utility to those who contribute during their working lives.
But allowing people to access their super while still working is nothing more than a tool to soften the impact of this demographic shift, not a solution in itself.
That requires real vision, such as shown in the rejected and recently released Cabinet paper prepared by the government's own inter-generational task force - a document that tried to grasp the reasons Australia population was not replenishing itself.
The reason it hit the dust bin was that it recognised that to expand our population base, we need to make it easier to have families - things like paid maternity leave, child care and reasonable working hours.
The Howard Government regards these types of measures as anathema - intervention in the labour market, the sort of system those pesky unions promote and which, in the Holy Grail of conservative thought stifles 'flexibility' and managerial prerogative.
Howard is blinded by his own small view of the world: these are not work issues, but life issues and the stress and demands, including the unpaid overtime we are all expected to work in the course of holding down an average job, all feed into our declining birth rate.
In this deregulated, casual, contract driven world of work, who has time for a relationship, let alone a family? It is not about linking work and family. It is about recognising they are intertwined.
And so Protestant work ethic becomes the only solution to the fact that fewer of us can pursue the Catholic family ethic.
Of course, the other solution is increased immigration, but the deep-seated racial insecurity that the PM tapped so cynically at the last election precludes him from going down this alternate path.
So we are left with this tinkering of superannuation laws, wrapped up as a vision - a vision that will not even tackle the real super issues of adequacy of contribution, taxability of retirement income and the exorbitant creaming that most funds indulge in through fees and charges.
While the PM will bang on about respecting older people and tapping into their wisdom (code for the claims of one older Australian, perchance?) one wonders to what degree the message 'keep working' will resonate with those who have put in for 40 years and reckon they've earned a breather.
As the old jingle went, if the Answer is Liberal, then it must be a stupid bloody question.
|Search All Issues | Latest Issue | Previous Issues | Print Latest Issue|
© 1999-2002 Workers Online