|Issue No 23||23 July 1999|
Superman on the Forces of Light
By Mark Lennon
- executive officer, Labor Council of NSW
Labor Councils Superannuation Committee was addressed last week by Kelvin Thompson MP, the Shadow spokesman for Superannuation.
He raised some interesting issues that the Committee will be considering in coming months. At the outset he outlined the Hawke/Keating Government's record on superannuation. In 1983 only some 40% of the workforce has superannuation coverage. By 1999 that had increased almost 90% . There are now some $370 billion in superannuation funds under management in Australia.
By contrast, Mr Thompson pointed out the Howard Governments policies are putting our retirement income system at risk. There is the Howard Governments action in abolishing the co-payment. It is certainly a concern of the Opposition that a 9% to superannuation contribution rate will not be sufficient to provide adequate retirement incomes.
The introduction of the surcharge has been a administrative nightmare. The extra expense it has imposed on funds has meant that all members of funds have seen impacted, through additional costs to the funds.
The Howard Government also needs to address the impact the GST will have upon superannuation. As well as being an additional tax on funds the proposed new income tax scales will make superannuation less attractive to many individuals.
Also of major concern to the Opposition was the Howard Governments proposals on choice of fund. The Opposition believes strongly that the model proposed by the Government is flawed. It is in fact forced employer choice.
Labor's policy on choice is a staged one. In the first instance, there should be investment choice within funds for members. That is, they would be able to choose one of a number of different investment strategies depending on their own personal requirements. The second stage of Labor's model would use a choice of fund provision but along the lines of what is contained in the NSW Industrial Relations Act. That provision allows an employee to elect to have their contributions paid into a fund other than that nominated in the award if their employer agrees. It means that the employee instigates any change of fund rather than the employer.
The other major question for Labor Mr Thompson stated, is that of the co-contribution. Is it an issue that Labor should revisit and if so, to what extent?.
The original plan for the co-contribution would have seen individuals having a contribution level of 15%. Additional research seems to point to 12% being an adequate level of superannuation in order to provide for a decent retirement income.
Is 12% considered an appropriate level and, if so, how is that to be achieved?. Will it remain some form of co-contribution or will it be solely from the employer?.
Kelvin Thompson's address provided some good discussion amongst those present.
On choice of fund the comment was made that perhaps members should remain with their industry fund who have done an excellent job in protecting and preserving members entitlements.
On co-contribution the point was made that when this was first proposed by the former Labor Government many saw it as a pay all as they would have to be making a 3% contribution themselves.
These issues are to be considered at future meetings of the Council.
Interview: An Economic Wet
Dr Christopher Sheil on economic rationalism and the 1997-98 water failures in Adelaide and Sydney.
Unions: The Stench from the South
In 1997 the entire Adelaide metropolitan area was drenched in foul, sulphorous, sewerage odours, emanating from the Bolivar waste water treatment plant.
Environment: Trading into Trouble
Seattle, USA, is shaping up as demonstrator mecca in the lead up to World Trade Organisation talks.
History: Eveliegh Rail Reunion
Former workers and their families from the historic Eveleigh Railway Workshops in inner-Sydney are holding a picnic reunion and folk music festival on the site on Sunday, August 29.
International: Bosses Use Armed Gangs to Break Russian Picket
On 9 July 1999, eighty masked, uniformed gunmen accompanied by the local prosecutor and other officials tried to storm the Vyborg Pulp and Paper Mill, under occupation by workers for the past eighteen months.
Satire: New Refugee Crisis: Journalists Flee Peace Zone
The camps are once again full in the Albanian border town of Gruntiez.
Review: 10 Reasonably Interesting Moments in Film
Cultural theorist Snag Cleaver flies off the handle again..
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005