Federal Budget 2018: Greens Senator discusses a fairer Age Pension

We grill the Greens on pension eligibility, super and rising energy and healthcare costs.

Greens talk pension and retirement

Over the next few weeks, YourLifeChoices will be asking the major political parties what they really think about the pension, superannuation, the rising cost of healthcare and energy and other issues affecting retirees. Greens Ageing spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert generously took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of the more pressing questions affecting our members.

YourLifeChoices: When the Age Pension was first introduced into Parliament in 1909 it was intended as a ‘reward for years of service’. How would you describe it in 2018?
Senator Rachel Siewert: I would describe it as society providing support to older Australians. In terms of saying reward for years of service, I understand where the Government was coming from in those days, but people under various international conventions have the right to social security and older Australians, particularly those on lower incomes, deserve to have that support or have a right to have that support.

So it is not solely a supplement for private savings these days?
We are now looking at universal basic income, as you would have seen. We believe that older Australians deserve that support and deserve a quality of life.

How would the universal basic income work for retirees?
We are still looking at how that would best operate, so while we support and we have had as our policy for some time a guaranteed adequate income, we are still looking at how that would work. One of the issues around a guaranteed adequate income and a universal basic income is that we need to make sure people with various needs are supported according to their needs. So for example, single parents, older Australians, you would need to look at how much they would need. We still haven’t finalised those details yet. But we support an adequate income.

So how will you define adequate? Is it above the poverty line? Somewhere above the current pension rate?
We haven’t worked out the payment rates yet because there are a lot of things we have to take into account. If you are looking at Newstart, it would certainly be above that because Newstart payments are below the poverty line. A lot of older Australians are actually living on the Newstart allowance before they move onto the Age Pension and we are very aware of that.

Talking about people out of work before the pension age, one of the zombie measures still on the table from the 2014-15 Budget is increasing the pension age to 70. Where do the Greens stand on this issue?
We are not supporting that measure for a variety of reasons. The Government is trying to save some money out of that measure and they are also implying that things are changing. The problem is that we haven’t got all the other measures right to support people if they are working until they are 70 and it doesn’t recognise that different professions and different work have different impacts on people. Someone who has been doing hard physical labour for most of their working life is not the same as someone who hasn’t had that same physical requirements.

We are aware that people are working longer and people are working until they are 70, and there have been some issues around insurance and super and all those sorts of things that have slowly been recognised and addressed. But the issues that we have been concerned about (such as) age discrimination, transitioning and what we do about the things that I have just articulated where people are physically unfit (still need to be addressed). Are you going to put them on the disability support pension, which has various issues as well? Are they going to make them stay on Newstart?

We already know that people are spending a long time on Newstart living in poverty. One of the many issues with Newstart is not only are you living below the poverty line, but you have had to wear down your liquid assets to quite small amounts, and you never have the capacity to build it back up again. You are always behind the eight-ball and there are a growing number of people in that position. Then you get to the issue of women and their lack of savings and super as well. At this present stage we are not supporting the move to (lift the pension age to) 70 until they fix up those many issues, and so far they show no signs of addressing a lot of those issues.

So the Greens are not ideologically opposed to moving the pension age to 70 once those issues have been addressed?
We have had a lot of negative push back at this stage on that 70 line, so we are not supporting it. In the longer term, if we fix all those things, people are living longer and people do want stay in the workforce, and there needs to be a recognition that some people don’t want to work full time. So how we address that transitioning? How do we address age discrimination? The Government has put a few measures in place, but it really isn’t big enough or broad enough to actually address the problem.

Looking at the current income and asset eligibility tests for the Age Pension, what do the Greens think of the current limits?
We supported the changes at the top end, which also raised the bottom end so that more people were getting access to both the part pension and the full Age Pension. In terms of including the family home in the assets test, we don’t support that.

At any level? Does a person living in a $5 million home still deserve to be on an Age Pension?
I’d be interested to know the number of people who have a $5 million house and are actually living on the pension. I would suspect there would be very few, and that that may be a situation where they are living in a very old house in a very valuable piece of land because they have lived there all their lives. We are not putting forward the proposal that you means test the house. We are not going there.

In the last Budget, the Federal Government introduced its downsizing legislation. What did you think of that legislation?
We opposed that legislation. I didn’t deal with that as a portfolio holder because it was a super measure, so it fell within the treasury and finance portfolio and Peter Whish-Wilson handled that. But we opposed that legislation because it was mainly helping already very wealthy people and it didn’t really help those who are on the lowest income. That is where we focus a lot of our attention – on those people who are on those lower incomes and the vulnerable people on low incomes.

After the next election, if you were in a position to do so, would you look at repealing that legislation or winding it back?
My understanding is that Labor opposed it as well, so it would be interesting to ask them if there was a change of Government, if they would consider winding that back. The previous Labor Government had a (policy) around downsizing which seemed not just aimed at the wealthy, but genuinely at those who do want to downsize. There are a group of people that don’t (want to downsize), they want to stay in the family home. More and more people are moving away from the concept of wanting to just stay in the family home, though. They want to downsize, but they don’t downsize for financial reasons, they downsize for other reasons, some of which are financial, but it isn’t just finance. It is about managing the space, living closer to grandchildren. There are all sorts of things people downsize for.

My own parents downsized when my dad was still working, for a range of reasons, but it wasn’t about finances. More and more people are willing to change residences for a variety of reasons. The previous (Labor) Government were looking at it from an access to housing point of view and when the Libs came in they cancelled it. It hadn’t really got going so we don’t know what affect it would have had. How do you help people downsize if you are looking from a housing point of view, but then not affect their pension if they are on a low income? That is what they (Labor) were looking at. There is room to look at downsizing, but not in the way the Government did.

How do you help people downsize without affecting their Age Pension eligibility?
The Productivity Commission looked at financing and they came up with some recommendations and the Government didn’t touch those. It involved how older Australians could handle the family home or the primary residence as they were going into aged care. That was a concept that a number of people were looking at and thinking that was not a bad concept because it actually protects the older person. I am not necessarily advocating that, but I think that it is an interesting idea that definitely involves the Government being active in that. In terms of the Government having a role so that it doesn’t necessarily affect the pension. The way I took what the Government was doing at the time, which was the former Labor Government, it was looking more at how you free up these bigger houses for families, because of housing affordability.

Where do you stand on Labor’s policy of cancelling the cash rebate for franking credits? Richard Di Natale was originally cautious about the idea, but Labor has since backtracked significantly, what do you think now?
They have changed it more along the lines of where we were coming from. Richard (Di Natale) has spoken about this a bit more in the chamber. We are supportive (it) in principle. But we are concerned about the impact on people who have relatively low incomes and the impact that would have on pensioners and part pensioners. We are supportive of the concept of where they (Labor) are coming from, but making sure we are protecting those on low incomes.

We have a strong partnership with The Australia Institute (TAI) through our Retirement Affordability Index, and one of its major recommendations to address inequality involves scrapping super concessions in favour of a universal pension that would be paid to all retirees. What do you think of that proposal?
Again we are going into issues that are Peter (Whish-Wilson’s) in treasury, but we have spoken a lot about our concerns about super and it is not really helping those on lower incomes.  Them (TAI) talking about that rate has a lot of similarities to what we are talking about with the universal basic income (UBI). You need to look at what the adequate payment is, but I am not prepared to name the adequate payment at the moment because we haven’t worked out that level of detail. We do support a UBI and we are deeply concerned about super and the concessions that help those at the wealthier end, while at the same time we have got pensioners struggling to meet their basic costs.

Energy prices and the cost of private health insurance have increased at a greater rate than increases to the Age Pension and the energy rebate. What can be done to ensure pensioners are not disproportionally disadvantaged by these rises?
We have deep concerns about private health insurance. We have also got concerns about the rising costs of energy and the fact that there are issues with gold-plating for example. The rising cost of energy is an issue for everybody.

One of the other zombie measures from the 2014-15 Budget is reducing the energy supplement to zero. Are your views still the same?
We do not support that measure.

After the next election, would there be any thought given to increasing the energy supplement to help deal with the rising costs of energy?
We haven’t looked at that, but we are looking at other measures that would address the rising cost of energy. That is not to say we wouldn’t be prepared to look at something in the right context.

The latest OECD figures estimate that a quarter of retired Australians live in poverty, which is twice the OECD average of 12.5 per cent. What do you think about those figures and what can be done to address that?
We are very concerned. If you are on the pension and you own your own home you are much better off than if you are on the pension and paying rent. There are a range of things that we need to do. We need to make sure that we have affordable accommodation, we need to make sure we have an independent process for the setting of rates for social security, including the Age Pension. We have been advocating that for a long time, so that politicians are not setting that rate. There are a number of measures that need to be taken to address the energy issue. Looking into the future, if there are less people owning their own homes as they are ageing, that is going to be a very significant issue and have a very direct outcome on people’s living standards.

What do you think of the current rates for rent assistance?
We have been addressing that issue around rent assistance but it is not the only issue we need to address to affordable housing. One of the issues there is, if rent assistance goes up, we need to make sure we don’t see a corresponding rise in rent. You can’t do that by itself, you need a whole lot of other processes in place as well, including housing stock and making sure that the rent assistance doesn’t disappear into the pocket of property owners.

Can anything specific be done to stop that from happening?
If there is a better supply of affordable housing there is less pressure on rents because there is more stock available. We need to look at other measures to make sure that doesn’t happen as well.

What is the single policy measure that the Greens support that will be of the most benefit for the wellbeing of older Australians?
I hate these questions because it implies that there is one answer to things, and there never is because it is a complex issue. All the things we have just talked about, addressing this issue of super is particularly important because we are spending a lot of money on super and a lot of that is going to help high-income earners and not those who are on lower incomes. We need to address that issue. The issue of the Age Pension and making sure that is adequate and the issue of housing is absolutely critical as well. I can’t point to one issue because there is not one issue that will fix the problem.

What do you think about the Greens’ policies on ageing?

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    COMMENTS

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    5th Apr 2018
    10:23am
    I don't agree with supporting cancelling franking credit refunds. This policy was introduced to boost investment in Australian companies and give Australians - particularly the less well off - the opportunity to invest profitably in local enterprise. It's good policy. I agree with taxing the wealthy fairly, but that will NEVER be achieved by cancelling franking credit refunds because there is simply no reliable way to determine who should and who shouldn't benefit from a refund. Favouring pensioners, for example, is blatantly unfair to hundreds of thousands of SFRs who will, in many cases, end up worse off than a pensioner. It's also detrimental to the budget because those SFRs may then divest and claim pensions. It makes no sense to attack people who are saving the budget up to $2 million over the course of their retirement. The argument that they don't pay tax is utter nonsense. They pay huge tax by not drawing a pension.

    I keep hearing pensioners say ''We earned our pension. We paid tax for decades''. Yes. And guess what? So did SFRs. AND they are contributing tens of thousands annually to the budget in retirement. But now some selfish people are saying that because they don't impose a massive burden on taxpayers by claiming a pension, they shouldn't get tax credits either!
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    11:55am
    All of which would be well and good if there was any genuine flow-through or 'trickle-down (LMAO) to the economy and the people as a whole. If corporations are just there to suck money out of people with no return to tax coffers and thus to the economy - they are not worthy investors in this nation, and should be excluded from operating here.

    In that case, Rainey, your shares would flourish in a flourishing nation instead of relying on leeching a little from as many as possible.

    NOBODY gets out of here untaxed....
    Triss
    5th Apr 2018
    1:44pm
    OAPs don’t have it all their own way, OGR, they are the only section of the retirement community that will be forced to work until they are seventy before they can get the pension. If you want to be financially like the OAPs then you will have to be forced to work until you’re seventy before you access a pension self-funded or otherwise.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    3:19pm
    No Triss. At present, people are retiring at 65.5, and many of today's pensioners retired at 65. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. And I'm not suggesting OAPs have it ALL their own way. What I'm saying is that we have a stupid system that encourages people to rely on pensions and bashes those who don't. And the comments here seem to suggest that pensioners think they have an entitlement to their pensions (and I agree) but people who are saving the nation tens of thousands a year AFTER paying tax all their lives, don't have an entitlement to fairness and a decent income.

    And this is NOT about trickle-down, Trebor. This is about recognizing that the LIES being told about SFRs not contributing to the economy constitute bullying. They ARE lies. SFRs make an enormous contribution to the economy, and to suggest that they should be robbed of 30% of their income claiming they don't pay tax is just DISGUSTING - particularly when the accusation comes from - or is supported by - pensioners.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    4:35pm
    @Rainey

    "This policy was introduced to boost investment in Australian companies and give Australians - particularly the less well off - the opportunity to invest profitably in local enterprise."

    The less well-off cannot afford investments.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    4:37pm
    @Rainey

    "The argument that they don't pay tax is utter nonsense. They pay huge tax by not drawing a pension."

    Don't be ridiculous. That is saving the taxpayer, not paying a tax.
    Old Geezer
    5th Apr 2018
    7:18pm
    Knows-a-lot if they have a low income then they must not be making money so are entitled to the refund like they are on all other income. They also paid tax on the money they have invested in shares.

    Most money in super funds has been taxed at 15% with the wealthy paying 30% contribution tax. If they put in after tax money then they would have paid tax on that too.

    So they have paid a lot of tax with a big super fund.

    When is enough tax enough when one pays tax upon tax on their money? No you want them taxed even more. Goodness me stop being so envious of those who have more than you. I couldn't care less myself.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    8:36pm
    Knows-a-lot, you don't know much - sorry. There are 800,000 shareholders in Commonwealth Bank alone, and most of them ARE LESS WELL-OFF. They are NOT wealthy. They are ordinary folk who have saved and bought a few shares to secure their future.

    I am only moderately comfortable - far from wealthy - and I was poor for most of my life, but I own shares. If I had known what I know now, I'd have owned shares when I was poor. I'd have bought them instead of putting money in the bank.

    And paying tax or saving the taxpayer is THE SAME THING. How can you differentiate? The end result is that the SFR loses a benefit and the taxpayer gains.

    It is unbelievably selfish to suggest that some should get up to $2 million from the public purse in retirement and those who get ZILCH, after paying tax all their lives, are not even entitled to a small refund of tax unfairly taken from a dividend they depend on to get by. But if pensioners must be so unbelievably selfish, there is a solution for SFRs. Simply divest or use the mattress bank and enjoy 7.8%+++ return - far better than many are getting now even WITH franking credits. Take the franking credits away, it's simply NOT WORTH THE EFFORT to be self-funded. Let's see how Shorten's stupid plan stacks up when hundreds of thousands more put their hands out for that $2 million or so that is being handed to OAPs.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    7:00am
    BTW Knows-a-lot, MOST Australians today own shares and benefit from franking credits. They may not know it, since their shares are bought and managed by their super fund in many cases, but MOST Australians own shares.

    What Shorten's policy will do is very heavily tax those with low incomes and the poorer SFRs who are saving the nation a fortune, and continue to hand out generous benefit to those with high incomes or very high wealth.

    If that were not the case, his proposed policy wouldn't be able to achieve billions in claimed savings. Where do you think those billions come from? From a tiny percentage of rich people who hire fancy accountants and financial advisers to ensure they don't pay tax? And those people are going to just hand over tens of thousands to BS after his policy change, instead of asking their fancy accountants and advisers to rearrange their affairs so they aren't hurt by the change? DREAM ON!
    GrayComputing
    5th Apr 2018
    10:50am
    NOTE TO ALL senators, MPS and also to the Super rich support teams and their web robots

    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVERV AGAIN!
    A pension is not welfare.

    For the retired and retiring people in your electorate do you think they really look forward and want 100++ visits to/from Centrelink and be part of 3 million waiting queues and lost calls?

    Most economist say we will save taxpayers money by dropping asset testing because of the massive overheads cost in running Centrelink and the 10,000 conflicting rules

    Do you or other MP like being part of the system that allows this indirect abuse of the elderly?

    This abuse is actually sponsored by our government and forced down to Centrelink and borders on a criminal act.

    Why do you as a compassionate person let this Centrelink abuse happen at taxpayers’ expense?

    You even stand to lose your chance at government unless all these criminal asset tests for a pension are dropped now.


    NO ASSET TEST FOR A PENSION EVER AGAIN!
    Veritas
    5th Apr 2018
    11:16am
    Good one GrayComputing. I so totally agree with you - as a recipient of this abuse, it MUST STOP !!!!
    johnp
    5th Apr 2018
    11:59am
    Agree completely with you both. Its is abuse of the elderly and especially the self funded ones. It is the abuse by the pollies that are are the problem such as entitlements, travel, pollie pensions etc
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    12:54pm
    .. and their propensity to offer nice little 'retirement' earners to all their fellows once booted for poor performance, etc, onto 'commissions' and 'government corporation boards' etc... FFS...

    Most of these pull their 'pension' immediately, yet need to be slotted into more and more out of the public purse, as if they are desperately in need or something - meanwhile they fiddle the books while Rome burns... with the help of the special interest groups they stir up with their half-sense rhetoric.... such as WAR (LMAO)...
    Triss
    5th Apr 2018
    2:09pm
    Agreed, GrayComputing. Why no-one has risen up against the blatant corruption of politicians and senators giving themselves $200,000 a year and, at the same time, cutting pensions to the bone, is beyond me.
    GeorgeM
    6th Apr 2018
    12:06am
    Agree, GrayComputing this abuse of elderly Australians needs to stop.

    Why even talk to the Greens when they are the morons who aided the Liberals to implement the ridiculous tightening of the Assets test and made it a disaster where it is better to spend off assets to reclaim pensions.

    She also made a massively incorrect statement in relation to the changed assets test which was not picked up "We supported the changes at the top end, which also raised the bottom end so that more people were getting access to both the part pension and the full Age Pension." More people getting access to pensions? Doesn't she know about 420,000 either lost it altogether or had their pensions reduced?

    Who pays for these indecisive and head-in-the-sand clowns? The Voters - now can all retirees act and get rid of these seat-warmers?
    Charlie
    5th Apr 2018
    11:47am
    Why are they expecting a Greens senator to have the answers to all these questions, or were the greens the only ones who put their hands up and volunteered for mission impossible.

    The Greens say we cant have more rent assistance because the estate agents will put the rent up.
    The debate about rent assistance is about increasing the basic rate within the pension payment.. It is earmarked as rental assistance and is well below the base rate. Intended to separate those renting from living at home.

    This is not about the failed government scheme that discounted rents for welfare recipients, by the government picking up the difference in cash, on properties selected by the estate agent... So properties were first over priced and then discounted... The extra money has to go to the welfare recipient who chooses the property randomly from those advertised to the general public.
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    11:57am
    Words can be cheap, Charlie - and what is missing from this discussion is the overall mix of Greens policies.

    I have stated several or more times elsewhere that I am not prepared to accept from any political party some good in return for accepting an equal or even higher heap of bad.

    We need to look at policy platforms overall.

    Got work to do...
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    11:58am
    My mate here got the rent assistance paid with his pension by cheque every fortnight - 5 years ago the money amounted to $935 p.f.
    Looked after his finances while he was in hospital, had to bank the C/Link cheque and then pay the rent to the real estate agent Thought that was normal procedure. The agent did not even know he was on a pension.
    Triss
    5th Apr 2018
    1:55pm
    Agree with you, Charlie and Trebor. If politicians would only look around instead of spouting their own opinions about things they have no knowledge of.
    She talks about downsizing. Two people in our street have sold their houses to downsize and those houses are back on the market at $600 per week. How will that help families to buy their own homes?
    Charlie
    5th Apr 2018
    5:55pm
    Jim, there was a government reduced rental scheme about a couple of years back and it only lasted about 6 mths.
    There were certain properties where the government would pay a portion of the rent for a person on benefits, if they had registered with the scheme.
    It failed because the estate agent selected the properties and the base price, so it was too easy to elevate the base price to where the tenant would be paying the normal price still, after the discount.
    Apart from this, most of the benefits including age pension, have a portion of money they call rental assistance, so they can take it away from people who are living at home and not paying rent.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    9:45am
    Charlie - thanks for your explanation re rental scheme a while ago. Did not know about that.
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    11:53am
    Hmm - fence-sitting... but I'll accept that it's early days and an election has yet to be called... it's just that odour on the wind at the moment... (which I thought was the river backing up with rotting vegetation after the flooding)....

    i) She seems to be including everyone over a certain age here , including immigrants and refugees - not sure that will go down well with many. we'll see.

    ii) Hedging around how much is a livable income.

    iii) Revert pension age to 65 - while I would prefer to be working at 69th this year, nobody will have me anyway, and the old arthritis is kicking me a lot. So 70 is really a no-no unless you are sitting on your arse etc, as politicians and their mates all do.

    iv) I still have reservations about the family home - though there may be argument that deliberately placing yourself in a high value home so as to secure a Pension is a non-no - but how do you prove it? ANY concept of including the family home in pension eligibility, including this one AND the current exclusion of costs of house (similar to renting, except you do it yourself) - is OUT!

    v) As for down-sizing -my view is that down-sizing should not incur a penalty for 'parking' cash temporarily in an account while buying elsewhere. If you already have the cash to buy elsewhere before down-sizing, you already have too much for a Pension anyway.

    vi) Either ensure that a correct reckoning of imputation is made prior to calculating tax - i.e. that tax comprises part of gross income, so add it to total income, then calculate - OR - abolish dividend franking altogether and have each separate legal entity handle their own tax. I am concerned that companies are the real guilty ones here and are using imputation as a means of evading tax of their own. Needs looking at with a level head (anyone got one?)

    vii) I'm with scrapping super concessions for ALL, and limiting benefits of super from the public purse that so benefit politicians etc to the same level as everyone else. I then favour a universal pension and then tax on all income, fringe benefits, and gifting from family and companies over and above that.

    viii) Energy needs to be resumed as a government duty and responsibility and prices cut to match the one-roof coverage. Until that happens the energy supplement must keep pace with rising costs and should also be adequately reflected in wage rises. You forked it - you fix it! Private health insurance should be just that - your private responsibility and nobody else's, same as childcare and ppl. These are not the responsibility of the taxpayer, and nor should they be.

    ix) As for rental v owning - include rates, repairs and upgrades in the mix and then let's talk. The costs of maintenance and upgrades can be staggering, even if you do a heap yourself, as I do to cater to disabilities here. (back to the fray in a few minutes - painting and finishing off laundry just tiled).

    x) Affordable housing for the many can be assisted by the banks reversing their current insane rush to prop up investors, and the government forbidding foreign investment. Also a spreading of the influx of people OUT of the big cities will slow and then reverse the current madness of future vertical slums rising all around the skyline, the devastation of entire suburbs to suit, and people living in upgraded prison cells and surrounded by strangers they can't know or trust.

    xii) A single policy? I agree that is a hard one after answering a dozen others.

    xi)
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    11:59am
    Aggggh - mistake...
    maelcolium
    5th Apr 2018
    11:59am
    The Greens are baying at the moon. A basic income is being pushed by global corporates because it's the only way they can see to keep demand for their stuff going when employment is so low. We need to reject this quick fix because it will just become another plaything for political parties to fiddle with whenever they see a need to balance this mysterious budget we all hear about ad nauseum. A GBI is just another name for financial servitude. We need a jobs guarantee scheme underpinned by the Government so that anyone who wants a job can find one at a basic level of income which will become a benchmark replacing the minimum wage. Outlaw so called contracting of jobs and their intermediaries who are all recipients of Government derived corporate welfare. It's a basic human right to be able to work for a living and make no bones about it - Governments are entirely responsible for the demise of opportunities. The Greens are just emitting brain farts.
    The franking credits question is just a nonsense. The taxation law is in place to prevent double taxation which is a cornerstone of our taxation law. It can be applied against assessable income or is returned to shareholders if their taxable income is zero. So what? It costs the Government nothing as taxation is not revenue at all. The national accounts are not like the accounts of a business, they just measure inflows and outflows at points in time. Like taxation they are not banked anywhere or saved for future spending, and like deficits they disappear because they don't exist. The mainstream economists are talking about classical economics which is not the way a fiat currency economy works. I often wonder why Governments impose austerity when they as sovereigns actually issue the currency which is just tokens after all. Really, we've been duped for four decades with this nonsense and it's not economics, it's ideology, and time we went beyond the rhetoric.
    In short all the political parties don't understand macroeconomics. If they did then they would talk about things that matter, like reducing poverty, creating real jobs, curtailing the excesses of the corporates and ensuring a healthy and happy society. The model they use now is just a means of capitalising national income to profits and socialising losses. One day the society will wake up to their disgusting rort and it won't be pretty.
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    12:50pm
    Good thinking.......
    Tib
    5th Apr 2018
    12:04pm
    The policies seem fair but I disagree with their stance on franking credits. Get rid of this idea. Having read the governments comments on super I am feeling less secure with their position. I'm starting to feel like a duck in duck season.
    Sundays
    5th Apr 2018
    1:11pm
    She lost me at Universal Basic Income. How can this country possibly afford to pay everyone as per Di Natolis proposal. While they focus on this pie in the sky, they will never fully address the real issues.
    Sundays
    5th Apr 2018
    2:28pm
    Sorry Di Natalie. Wants to abolish all welfare and pay all Citizens a non means tested payment. Is he serious! It will only be an extra $254 billion a year.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    3:15pm
    Maybe not, Sundays. It's a lot more complex that it first appears. I've read reports that suggest it might be doable if implemented in the right way, and might actually solve a lot of problems. Remember, that income would be taxed, so many wouldn't actually be any better off. But it would save millions in administration costs, policing costs - and that would flow on to health savings due to stress relief with better security and less compliance headaches. Many who are currently struggling to find work would have the freedom to try private enterprise, with the security of a basic income to give them confidence. Having had to cheat the system to escape the unemployment trap by starting a small business, I know the benefits of giving people a little more freedom and support to be enterprising. I was in good company too. There were dozens I knew who wanted to do as I did, but didn't dare and were crushed by a cruel system.

    I don't like the Greens, but I think their proposal deserves better than instant dismissal.
    Sundays
    5th Apr 2018
    3:44pm
    Sorry, I can’t agree with you. Very Eutopian, but then he has said the idea came from Ancient Greece. For many more it will destroy any incentive , rorts to minimise taxation, calls that it’s not eneough and has to be increased for starters. Anyway, the big business that supports Welfare won’t want to lose their cushy jobs and live on a Universal wage. I feel it’s a smokescreen from a Party that has no real answers to complex issues
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    6:56am
    Sunday, it CAN'T destroy incentive any more than a system that ONLY pays you if you STAY down and out, and punishes you for striving. At least those who WANT to strive are free to do so. There will always be those who are content to bludge. Not much can be done about them. Giving them an unconditional basic income alleviates their poverty and reduces their need to resort to dishonesty or crime.

    Yes, sadly too many have a vested interest in the ''targeted welfare'' that builds a welfare mentality and oppresses those who want to strive but are disadvantaged in some way. But the universal wage has a lot going for it in terms of fixing what's wrong with society today.

    Combined with a sensible tax system, it is highly affordable and socially enormously beneficial.

    But perhaps you'd prefer to see the strivers in society bashed and suppressed, and those with no integrity manipulating and cheating to join the ''targeted group'' and rip off the country, while a lot of genuinely needy can't qualify for the ''targeted benefit'' that is only handed to people who fit neatly in certain boxes, and those who want to escape the poverty trap find the lid of the box firmly closed. Escape is only possible if you can afford the massive cost - and therefore shouldn't have been in the box in the first place but manipulated dishonesty to get there.
    marls
    6th Apr 2018
    7:59am
    Sunday's
    There's no means test in NZ and regardless of wealth can continue to work on aged pension
    No means test in many European countries eg my mother gets aged pension.plus a portion of my deceased fathers plus small pension from another European country as my father was in the war plus she gets a pension from oz as the qualified they worked over 20 yrs here and in Germany they are assessed as individuals not as a couple like oz
    Adrianus
    6th Apr 2018
    9:19am
    We will only be able to drop the means tested pension if and when Australian women have more babies. This is why we need more Muslim women in Australia.
    Sundays
    6th Apr 2018
    3:10pm
    Maris, I agree with you. The Pension should be universal. What the Greens are proposing is that EVERYONE should get a universal payment not just pensioners. This payment is made whether they are working or not and regardless of how much money they have. Rich people would pay more tax, as if !

    Welfare as we know it would disappear because we would all be getting extra. I just can’t see how we can afford this as a country. Now that I’ve clarified it, you may want to rethink
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    4:54pm
    I saw some interesting projections from Griffith University economics professors, Sundays, that suggest we actually could afford and benefit from a universal pension. My initial response was also that it made no sense, but their numbers suggest it's achievable, and it would certainly be very socially beneficial. To get rid of welfare as we know it would be the best reform we could make for society.

    I think a universal retirement income is the first priority. We should be taking one step at a time. But moving toward the universal income would be smart.

    The figures I saw were based on abolition of all welfare and all tax concessions such as negative gearing, capital gains concessions, superannuation tax concessions, etc. Everyone paid tax on all income over the UI amount at the same rate up to a comfortable threshold, and over that at a much higher rate. There were virtually no deductions, because the UI compensates for loss of tax concessions. The interesting part, for me, was the prediction - apparently based on extensive research - that about 40% of unemployed would move into work immediately, establishing their own enterprise or pursuing a creative money-making endeavour. Surveys revealed that more than 40% of unemployed feel barred from working by the deprivation rules attached to Newstart benefits. I can sure relate to that, having been there and done that! Several decades ago, the government ran the NEIS to help unemployed into businesses. I met 40 unemployed people at a meeting who all had sound business ideas, experience, and wanted to work. Every single one was EXCLUDED from NEIS on the basis that had taken casual work when available over the previous two years. Only those who had done NOTHING for two years were helped to start a business. All any of the 40 wanted was an assured minimal income for one year to give them a chance to get the business operational and capable of paying a minimal living wage.

    The projections went further though. They predicted that 40% of those on disability would also move into work in their own enterprise or a creative endeavour. Many on disability CAN work, on their own terms - but NOT if they have to turn up for work for N hours per day, N days per month. Then there were all the supporting parents who could work if they were supported to set up enterprises where they can work on their own terms.

    I'm no expert, but the report seemed soundly researched.
    KSS
    5th Apr 2018
    1:15pm
    What I got from this article:

    "we don't know what to do, we don't know how to do it, we don't know what it will cost, we don't know what the effects will be, but we support it!"

    Oh and 'it's a tough one!"
    Tib
    5th Apr 2018
    2:12pm
    She's doing what all political parties do when they have no chance of being in power and don't have to make tough decisions. Telling you what you want to hear. The others would do the same if they didn't have to pay for it down the track. So she is no different, but I don't like the comment about franking credits, maybe she thinks we want to hear that?
    Seenitall
    5th Apr 2018
    1:58pm
    The Kiwi's have a non means tested age pension which must save the NZ Govt. a fortune not having to employ hundreds of people to constantly monitor age pensioners' assets and incomes.
    I don't really understand how a country which would appear to be much less asset rich than Australia can afford this but I guess it has something to do with the NZ taxation system which would more efficiently tax the well off who would end up paying most of what they received in non means tested pension back as tax. We'd have as much chance of shifting the overall tax burden to the wealthier end of the spectrum in this country as we would of seeing a flypast by a squadron of pigs.
    marls
    6th Apr 2018
    8:05am
    Seenitall
    Yes and in nz they can continue to work there's no means test in many Europeans countries and they are assessed as individuals not as a couple and in Italy eg if a partner dies the surviving partner also receives a portion of the deceased like my mother does plus a small pension from Belgium as dad was in the war plus she gets another pension from another country as she worked there for 20 yrs
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    9:59am
    Mentioning these countries one also should include, all universal pensions are added to one's normal income and then taxed. Would make everything easier for sure but a lot of people here would possibly worse off. In my old country the maximum single universal pension is $3000 a month; a millionaire gets that as well although he probably paid in $50'000 in tax annually. The worker on $90'000 annual income gets the same $3000 a year. And then they are taxed and there is even an asset tax as well.
    Anonymous
    7th Apr 2018
    9:52am
    Meant the pension to be $3000 a month, not year, sorry!

    5th Apr 2018
    2:19pm
    As usual from the Greens - NO SUBSTANCE
    Triss
    5th Apr 2018
    4:15pm
    That’s how I read it as well, Raphael.
    Not a Bludger
    5th Apr 2018
    2:30pm
    Oh Lordy Lordy - and there are fairies at the bottom of the garden.
    Please - why on earth do you give these people who are unemployable except on the public purse time of day?
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    3:10pm
    Because there are NOT ENOUGH JOBS for all who want them. Giving them a basic income might just allow them to pursue a business idea. We HAVE to change our thinking to keep pace with a changing world. I think this is a good start.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    3:24pm
    Rainey - they have a basic income

    its called the DOLE
    Not a Bludger
    5th Apr 2018
    3:48pm
    OGR - anybody in Australia who really wants a job can get one tomorrow - maybe not their job “of choice” but a job.

    There are more than enough jobs around - the changing world is simply that so many people won’t work and expect free money to be thrust into their mitt.
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    7:13pm
    Nonsense.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    7:12am
    Raphael, the Dole is the problem that is keeping people poor and preventing them striving to achieve. Have you ever considered how hard it is for someone who wants to work but relies on NOT working to ensure there's bread on the table? Ever thought about how few employers will even consider an applicant who has to confess to having been on the dole for a while?

    Targeted welfare suppresses and creates a welfare mentality. It drives poverty. When you WANT to escape the unemployment trap, the knowledge that you have a fall-back income is solid gold. My partner and I often say we'd be very wealthy today if we'd just had the security of a fall-back income if we took a calculated risk and failed. We couldn't risk losing the kid's lunch money, so we had to stay locked into poverty. When we finally decided to cheat the system, we got out of the trap, and now we could be SFRs if I chose to stop work. But we had to lie and cheat to achieve that.

    Targeted welfare only serves the privileged who want to oppress the disadvantaged. It DOES NOT serve a healthy society.

    And Not a Bludger, there are NOT enough jobs to go around, and anyone CANNOT get a job. Before making these trite self-serving claims, you have to examine a lot of complex logistical and psychological factors. We are dealing with people - not machines. A disabled man was told he didn't qualify for disability benefits because he could take a clerical job. A man who has laid bricks his whole life and can't add up, and has a back injury that makes sitting in a chair pure hell, is supposed - at 60 - to switch to clerical work. And he'd get a job, where? He can't operate a computer beyond sending a simple email and finding a website. He is dyslexic. And his body is stuffed due to heavy physical work. Where, exactly, would you suggest he find work? Let's retrain him, shall we? And an employer is really going to hire him after he has 6 months of retraining and applies - at 61 - for a job he has zero experience in and no aptitude for. Get real!

    Honestly, some people need to learn about the REAL world.
    marls
    6th Apr 2018
    8:12am
    Not a bludger
    Rubbish my grand daughter is 22 she had been working eg after school etc since aged 14 she just had a baby continues to work she is not a bludger but in 8 yrs has never been able to get one full time job all were jobs have been casual she has never been without work has to live at home with family as no one will rent her a home because she's casual
    adbob
    5th Apr 2018
    3:15pm
    Typical Greens virtue signalling.

    They're so so caring of spongers and scroungers and anyone else who expects to get something for nothing.

    No one intends that the destitute, of any age, should starve, so the virtue signallers have to adapt a more extreme position. Don't forget that the Greens were complicit in the doubling of the Assets test clawback rate which deprived so many ordinary retirees of the little bit that they had worked hard and saved for and so dragged them down to the same level as those who had saved nothing and contributed nothing.

    Luckily the Greens are aspent force. We are all well aware of the need to protect the environment and the need to care for the poor. If they want to claim some credit for that let them - but as of now they are a waste of space - if they had a point to make and a job to do that was in the past - now they are just a virtue-sginalling waste of space.

    Politically they will get nowhere as their party room has more blood on the carpet than even the LNP - and that takes abit of doing. In politics division is death - and for them the sooner the better.
    Old Geezer
    5th Apr 2018
    3:38pm
    What a lot of hogwash?

    If you are expecting my vote think again.
    Old Geezer
    5th Apr 2018
    4:51pm
    Here is my latest letter to the greens. Feel free to copy it and send it to them yourself as well.

    Hi Richard

    I sincerely hope you are not going to support that dreadful proposal by Labor not to refund people’s franking credits?

    It is extremely unfair for low income earners to be denied a refund of the tax they paid because they earnt their money form dividends.
    If they earnt that money from any other source they would not pay tax on it.

    Example if a person has an income of $18,000 including franking credits of $5000 his income under Labor will be only $13,000 as he will
    be denied a refund of his franking credits. If that person was to earn $100,000 and had the same amount of franking credits his tax payable
    would be reduced by the $5000 meaning he would pay $5000 less in tax and have $5000 more in net income.

    So it is OK to reduce the net income of a person earning $18,000 by $5000 and increase the net income of a person earning $100,0000
    by $5000? From where I come from this is grossly unfair and anyone who thinks it is fair has a very warped sense of fairness indeed.

    If Bill Shorten says this tax only affects the wealthy then why has he back flipped and given those on welfare an exemption? Logic
    tells me that those on welfare must be rich. Well all know that this is not the case so something is very wrong with his proposal.

    What are the smart people going to do? I’d just reorganise my income and super so I didn’t lose a cent under this dreadful proposal that in effect
    taxes the low income earners and benefits the more wealthy income earners.

    Why be a self funded retiree in Australia today? I certainly will be telling anyone that under less you can accumulate many millions then why bother
    as you are better off spending your money and having a good time and collecting the old age pension at retirement age.

    Unless something changes and self funded retirees are supported and not left worse off than if they were on the old age pension who in their
    right mind would want to be one. I certainly would not.
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    7:28pm
    I thought I settled this imputation nonsense by referring the argument to the standard tax brackets, which approach shows that you would need to be gaining a total income of around $175,000 (+) - to pay 30% tax.

    How many of our whiners here are even mentioning that they must be receiving that much in dividends? All I'm hearing is "I only get $35,000 and they're going to rob me..

    Simple answer is that imputed dividend tax comprises part of YOUR gross income, should be added to your other income and then a calculation made.

    In that situation NO small shareholder will NOT receive a return of some that part of his/her income from the ATO...

    Now if the argument is that this is not how YOUR money is handled..... please explain...... I'd like to know why myself....
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    7:39pm
    The kicker is in here:-

    https://www.marketindex.com.au/franking-credits

    Under the current franking regime, the dividend tax is claimed to be on company profit - and thus somehow is not a component of shareholder profit.

    That is what is wrong with this system. Company profit is not shareholder profit since the two are separate legal entities - so either this WAS set up as a rort for shareholders or it was a mistake in working it out.

    "Franking credits represent the tax a company has already paid on any profit it distributes to shareholders as a dividend.

    The credits reduce a shareholder's tax liability at the end of the financial year and can result in an ATO refund."

    The credits should NOT reduce a shareholders personal tax liability, since it is simply tax paid on behalf of that shareholder, and thus comprises a part of that shareholder's total income. Being so, it should be added to other incomes and a total arrived at as gross income, and tax liable calculated on that total.

    It appears from this that it is indeed a rort set in place by the Howard and Costello Show - obviously to benefit themselves and their mates big time, while a few crumbs fall to the small fish - as usual.

    Now - on the subject of shareholders/SFRs not receiving even the equivalent of pension - that is another issue and should be addressed to government and changes made so as to ensure that nobody falls below pension level in retirement income - and any who receive even a tiny part pension should receive all pension benefits such as PBS and such.

    There has to be a cut-off somewhere.....
    TREBOR
    5th Apr 2018
    7:44pm
    Next response in advance - why should a shareholder, as a separate legal entity, gain directly from company tax paid?

    " a company is not obliged to pay tax on any profit it distributes to shareholders as a dividend. "

    So that tax paid in lieu of company tax IS your income, and should be added in.
    Anonymous
    5th Apr 2018
    8:27pm
    I think you are misunderstanding Trebor. The company makes profit and that profit BELONGS to the shareholder. The tax should be paid by the shareholder, NOT by the company. It should be paid by the person who owns and ultimately benefits from the profit. If that person earns too little to be liable to pay tax, they should NOT pay it. Therefore, if it was paid before they received the dividend, it SHOULD be refunded. What Labor plans to do is refund it ONLY if the recipient has other taxable income to offset it against. In other words, the most affluent will benefit and the poorest will lose out. It's patently unfair, and it's also totally contrary to the Labor Party's claimed ethos, which is that they help battlers.

    As to SFRs receiving less than the pension, they should receive substantially MORE, because if they divest and claim a part pension, they can earn a hell of a lot more than the base pension. Paying franking credit refunds is a far more economical and socially healthy way of securing their income than topping up with a part-pension. If they get jack of all this bullying and deprivation and just divest, they will up their incomes dramatically with a part pension and the returns on the few hundred thousand they are able to retain.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    6:48am
    Trebor, retirees with super don't pay tax unless they are VERY wealthy, in which case the franking credits reduce their tax bill and Shorten won't change that.

    If they are not VERY wealthy, they are ''taxed'' very effectively by not receiving a pension. A homeowner couple hands some $40,000 a year to the taxman. But they are SAID to be paying no tax. BS, Mr BS! They are paying HUGE tax. $40,000 a year on incomes that, in many cases, are marginally over the OAP. Now Shorten says ''because you pay no tax, I'm going to take 30% of your income off you''. He is NOT taking 30% of the income of a high wage earner or a rich retiree with income outside super pension phase - ONLY off the poor struggler paying $40K a year in ''tax'' by not claiming an age pension. So the company income is not double-taxed if it flows to a wealthy person or high income earner, but ONLY if it flows to a struggler who doesn't earn enough to pay tax.

    Now let's look at the situation of someone not yet retired. Two mythical couples and a single mum. Harry earns $200,000 a year and his wife earns $150,000 a year. Tom and Jane earn $35,000 each and have 2 kids in childcare. Single mum, Sarah, earns $55,000 a year and supports three children.

    Harry convinces both Tom and Sarah that money in the bank is a dead loss. Their 2% interest is not keeping up with inflation. He shows them how a share portfolio returns 7% and might grow in asset value as well. So they both buy bundles of shares - choosing the same bundle as Harry because they don't know enough to make an informed choice independently.

    Sarah is diagnosed with a serious illness and has to quit work and go on disability. Her share dividends now pay her mortgage. Thank goodness for Harry!

    Tom's wife is retrenched. Their share dividends are paying their mortgage now that they have only one income. Thank goodness for Harry!

    Under Shorten's policy, Harry continues to enjoy his franking credits, reducing his tax on his and his wife's $350,000 a year income by some $15,000 a year.

    Tom loses 30% of his dividend income because he doesn't earn enough to pay $15,000 a year tax.

    Sarah loses 30% of her dividend income because she doesn't earn enough to pay tax, AND she loses a lot of her disability pension because she has private income.

    Both Tom and Sarah lose their home. Harry continues to laugh all the way to the bank.

    Great idea, Mr Shorten. Let's get the wealthy, shall we?

    Let's add two more couples. Tim and Jenny own a nice home and have a good income, but never bothered to save much. With $300,000 invested in bonds, they got a near full pension with benefits. Tim inherited his father's home, worth $1.3 million. He rents it out for $1200 a week. He's now self-funded, and Shorten's policy won't take a cent off him. Jack and Denise saved well and invested in shares to retire with a basic home unit and $500,000. They get a part pension. They will lose $12,000 a year because their income comes from shares, not property, but they have $1.1 million LESS assets (aside from their home) than Tim and Jenny and about half the income (BEFORE the loss of $12,000).

    Let's get the wealthy, Mr BS!

    PLEASE, YLC members, THINK. Stop believing politician's lies and brainless politically-motivated bureaucrats who peddle nonsense justified by conveniently manipulated data and THINK about the reality of this damaging policy. THINK how it impacts REAL PEOPLE IN THE REAL WORLD.
    Old Geezer
    6th Apr 2018
    1:03pm
    Trebor What a lot of hogwash! You lack of understanding how companies are tax is truly amazing.
    Old Geezer
    6th Apr 2018
    1:11pm
    Well said OGR. I agree it is not Labor's ethos to hurt the poor and encourage the wealthy. We need to expose these lies and show the masses that Labor is benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the poor on this policy.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    4:39pm
    Wish I knew how, OG. I've been told 95% of the population is unconscious, and given Misty's absurd responses to logic, I despair of ever waking them up. Seems they are incapable of logical thinking, let alone constructive debate. They just believe what they want to believe. No interest whatever in facts or common sense. I can't find a single rational argument in favour of Shorten's policy, but a lot of folk are emphatic that it's good!
    Kathleen
    8th Apr 2018
    9:32pm
    OGR, don’t you read the updates. You are still commenting without reference to Shorten’s/Labor’s latest updates on their proposed franking credits. Low income people like pensioners will not be included, probably a lot kinder than LNP will do if they seize the opportunity.
    Anonymous
    9th Apr 2018
    10:30am
    WRONG, Kathleen. The latest policy merely favours pensioners and screws anyone who is struggling to remain self-funded. At least the LNP recognises that it's WRONG to steal the overpaid tax just because it was overpaid from dividend income. You would scream blue murder if workers who were over-taxed were denied a refund just because their incomes aren't high enough to be taxable, yet you are happy for someone who is contributing up to $40K a year to the taxpayer by NOT drawing a pension to lose 30% of an income that's below the tax threshold. It would be hard to conceive a more unfair attitude!
    Anonymous
    9th Apr 2018
    10:32am
    And BTW. Kathleen, if Short-on excludes low income earners, there's no money! High income earners get theirs back as a tax credit under his STUPID policy. If the low income earners are exempt, who will pay? Oh, the FANTASY FAIRIES Short-on INVENTED who he claims are rich and dodging illegally. Yep, and if they do exist, they are still going to dodge, because he's nowhere near smart enough to block the massive gaping holes they exploit all over the place.
    Linda
    5th Apr 2018
    5:11pm
    It seems to me that the liberals want to help the big end of town and get the masses to pay for it, while the big end of town rakes in the profits and can avoid taxes. The labor want to lure voters by promising a few little nibbles at a big big set of problems. The greens seem to think more carefully and are less bought by special interests. There are some very serious problems facing Australia and most other world governments. I agree that there are no single answers and that the solutions are going to have to consider the complexity of the problem and the various things that contribute to the problem. The problem is how to encourage with laws things that will benefit all Australians. It is terrible to think some folks are homeless and some don't have enough money for food and heating/cooling or for the things they need to experience good health care. We should seriously consider the costs of delivery (or poor delivery) of current arrangements. The greens seem to be the one party that is less likely to sell poorly thought out policy and they will be having their eye on the massive threat to everyone that climate change and environmental degradation bring. Plastic spoiling our seas, over fishing, chemical laced food, industrial pollution, and over population are now the biggest problems we face. While we all need funds to support ourselves, if what we do now means our children or grandchildren are going to suffer, we should all have our thinking caps on and we should all be thinking and exploring solutions to these huge issues that don't seem to get as much air time as they should.
    Sundays
    5th Apr 2018
    8:11pm
    Linda, it is very poorly thought out policy to propose a non means tested living wage for all citizens rather than policies to target assistance to the very poor, and homeless. Also, the Greens voted with the Liberals to reduce the Asset Threshhold for retirees thereby severely impacting retirement plans of more than 300,000 pensioners. In relation, to things like plastic, I do not think it is the Greens who have influenced Coles and Woolworths to get rid of plastic bags. It was people power of all political persuasions. I agree better solutions, are needed but sadly the current Greens are a disappointment.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    6:24am
    Sundays, I don't like the Greens and I don't think they have bothered to think through the policy at all, or that they are even capable of it, but having done a course recently in ''Economics for Tomorrow's Society'', I see very strong merit in a universal non-means-tested wage, combined with a sensible tax system.

    There is a huge problem with targeting assistance to the poor. Quite simply, IT CREATES MORE POOR. It builds a welfare mentality that discourages and punishes endeavour and locks people in to an unsatisfactory situation. A universal wage means freedom to strive and achieve. It removes the stress and depression that comes with being ''a welfare recipient''. It lifts people up instead of crushing them when the chips are down.

    The best remedy for poverty is greater overall national prosperity, and that can NEVER be accomplished by targeting handouts at the allegedly needy. We've seen how throwing billions at the Indigenous community failed. The more we hand out, the more problems we create. Means testing DOESN'T WORK. It just punishes the honest and diligent and restricts the desire to strive, while rewarding cheats, manipulators and the irresponsible. And the cost of welfare keeps rising.

    I can speak with authority because I've been down and out. I grew up in poverty. I had to cheat and lie to escape the poverty trap - because of ''targeted'' welfare supposedly intended to help the neediest. I am now moderately comfortable, but if Shorten has his way, I'll be poor again unless I cheat and manipulate, again, to get around stupid policy CLAIMED to make the rich pay more tax, but actually hurting the struggling honest working class and not taking anything at all from the wealthy.

    What I learned in the course is that you simply CANNOT defeat the human psyche. And the human psyche ensures that targeting can NEVER work, because a huge sector of the population will contrive to somehow be part of the target group that is benefiting, and inevitably you will hurt those who don't contrive, many of whom ARE actually needy, but don't fit in the target boxes for some reason.

    The other day I heard a man say he made a huge mistake early in life. He denied his Aboriginal heritage, relying on the fact that he had only about 5% Indigenous blood to be ''a white man''. He was stolen in infancy. If he had claimed Aboriginality, he'd be eligible for hundreds of thousands in compensation now. But because he's white, he doesn't fit in the box. He grew up hideously abused, but because it wasn't sexual abuse and didn't leave a long-term physical injury, he doesn't fit in that box either. He's psychologically seriously disabled due to massive abuse, and he has been on a pension for years because of that, but he doesn't qualify for most of the aid available to people who fit in other boxes.

    The ALP is justifying a cruel policy by saying it will MOSTLY impact people who are better off, but they admit it will cripple tens of thousands financially. That's okay. They don't fit neatly in defined boxes, so they are just collateral damage. Labor is trying to fix the budget by targeting a group who are way to smart to ever fall into the trap the ALP is setting, so the only revenue that will be gained is from the poor strugglers who are ''collateral damage''. The welfare bill goes up. Poverty increases.

    We need GENERAL PROSPERITY, and we can ONLY achieve that by ending this nonsense idea of putting people in boxes and ''targeting''. It never has worked, and it never will. And that's from someone who was in the target group and enjoyed benefit from being in it, then realized how oppressive it was belonging to the group and how negative the ''benefit'' was, and escaped to now be discriminated against for having achieved what society ought to want everyone to achieve.
    Sundays
    6th Apr 2018
    8:13am
    Good points OGR, I was thinking more of programs for the homeless because what we have now is just not working. I grew up in Public Housing at a time when most people had jobs and dignity. Not having housing stress enabled families to work hard and try and improve their lot. My mother thought she had won Lotto, when she was allowed to buy the house. 3 bedroom, 1 bath, no hot water in the kitchen and laundry and dunny out the back. The indigenous are a seperate issue. Having worked in that area, sadly the elephant in the room is alcohol and drug abuse and it is rarely adequately addressed. Also, too many of their own people rip each other off. Not PC of me, but certainly my personal experience
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    12:53pm
    I agree with all of that, Sundays, and it's good to see someone willing to intelligently consider comment and think about it. Thankyou.

    Yes, I recall the days of housing commission homes, and I know people who bought them and were over the moon at the opportunity. But corruption messed that also. Housing commission homes became twice as costly to build as they should have been due to builders seeing the chance to rip the government off.

    Personally, I think the best answer is education. It's amazing what solutions individuals can come up with if they are given some guidance. But it has to be the right guidance from the right source. Conventional wisdom isn't it! I did well, despite horrendous hardship, because I had resourceful relative who taught me how to think outside the box.

    I had a friend who was struggling terribly until I suggested considering a caravan in his grandmother's back yard. No, not an ideal solution. But two years later he had a house deposit. And two years in a nice caravan was not really that bad for a couple with no children and both working. They paid a bit towards grandma's power and water bills. Grandma had company in the evenings, and felt valued because she was charged with closing the windows if rain threatened! Win all round! They sold the van to pay the stamp duty and legal costs on their home, and get a bit ahead on repayments on the mortgage.

    There are answers, but I don't think government has them, simply because the people making the decisions don't live in the real world. Nor do the privileged who are giving them advice. Maybe if they got out in the streets and talked to people who have been there and done that and overcome challenges.

    I agree with you about the Indigenous, sadly. No, it's not PC, but it's the truth. There again, though, the solutions may be available if people look in the right place. A chronic alcoholic I know, who suffers C-PTSD, was helped by a former alcoholic who made two suggestions that turned the former's life around. First, find an all-consuming hobby - something that is deeply satisfying and demands huge time and energy, but costs little. Making things ideally. Leatherwork, metalcraft, woodwork, sewing, etc. Find a distraction to focus on when you have cravings. Second, experiment with different drinks to see if you can find one that is (a) inexpensive; and (b) has less adverse effects. Turned out red wine was cheap, satisfying, and didn't drive anger and violence the way beer and spirits did. See, everyone else was saying ''stop drinking''. Someone who knew that wasn't likely to happen easily had more insight and proposed solutions that improved matters, but didn't require withdrawal that was clearly a bridge too far.

    I'm afraid we have too many well-intentioned who just don't understand the problems, as well as people with sinister ulterior motives and no genuine intent. Even if we could solve the latter, the former continues to be a problem. The well-intentioned but misguided are always very keen to run other people's lives, and quick to dismiss them as undeserving if the prescribed solutions don't fit! We need innovative and creative people who can understand problems, empathize, and build bridges that are short enough to cross comfortably. If the decision-makers would learn from such folk, and let them educate the battlers, we might find real solutions. And I don't think they would be nearly as costly as the failing ones we are relying on at present.

    5th Apr 2018
    5:25pm
    Talking to the Greens is like talking to a tree.
    They are all as thick as 4 planks
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    7:28am
    I agree, Raphael. But you aren't doing any better.
    Cheezil61
    5th Apr 2018
    7:41pm
    Why would we read / listen to political promises from any govt party when these promises are quickly broken & dropped when elected anyway?..not interested!
    MD
    5th Apr 2018
    7:44pm
    Obviously I'm outa the loop - so the greens are planning a coup d e'tat ? And does that mean those in the loop are thereby loopy ? Tell em they're dreamin.
    Alan
    5th Apr 2018
    11:03pm
    The Greens are in LuLu land when it comes to economic policies. not one mention of how they are going to fund what they propose. Ther are completely unaccountable when it comes to economic planning and there is no way that I could trust them.
    Thoughtful
    6th Apr 2018
    12:01am
    We all must become open to any ideas which can bring about change. The whole system is soooo unfair to many. I lost my full time professional job at 56 - hardly an age when I planned to retire but certainly an almost impossible age to ever gain similar employment again. I had to sell my house and here is the great bit - Centrelink would not pay me Newstart because they decided I was not an Australian citizen! ( I was born in the UK to parents who were Australian Citizens and came to Australia when I was 3 months old! ) I was forced to draw on my super in order to survive. There will be none left by the time I am pensionable age! So do I the there should be a universal pension with no assets test? Absolutely! Furthermore, I think this would encourage seniors to live together without fear of losing money - freeing up some of the housing problem and helping with the health situation. Couples are generally healthier than singles. I also believe people living together use less power per person, so there is a saving in energy costs. If you have other income at retirement - of course you should be taxed on that income. There is still incentive to save for retirement if your circumstances allow. Not everybody has that opportunity And anybody who thinks there are enough jobs for those who need them have never been unemployed!
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    6:05am
    Thoughtful comments, Thoughtful! I'm astonished that Centrelink would not pay you Newstart. Apparently your parents erred in registering your birth because children born overseas to Australian parents ARE Australian citizens, but they may actually have to be registered as such. Generally, they have citizenship of both countries.

    I agree that the provisions for people who cannot work in later life and are too young for the OAP are woefully inadequate and need to be addressed urgently.I think one of the major problems we have in society, though, is that we continue to discourage and punish behaviour that is GOOD for the economy. By all means, tax income over and above a basic threshold - whether earned in retirement or before. But our government is giving major tax concessions to the wealthy, and bashing those who strive to reduce the burden on the economy. If you earn $250,000 a year, you get a massive tax concession to help build a multi-million dollar super fund. If you earn $30,000 a year, you get little or nothing.

    If a homeowner couple has $300,000 in retirement savings, invested in shares earning 7%, they have a tax-free income of around $54,000 a year and full pension concessions. If they saved $900,000, their income is probably about $60,000 with no concessions and Shorten wants to take $20,000 of that as punishment for NOT costing the taxpayer about $40,000 a year. They will end up with $40,000 a year, whereas if they cost the government $40,000 a year, they would have $54,000. (And some people think there's some merit in that ridiculous idea!)

    If you buy shares to save for retirement and you retain secure employment at $150,000 a year, Shorten will happily give you a $15,000 tax reduction every year. If you lose your job at 55 and have only your share income to live on, you probably won't get Newstart and Shorten will take $15,000 a year in tax on your dividend income. (This is called ''taxing the wealthy'' for anyone who doesn't get it!)

    If you buy a $2 million house to retire in and keep $300,000, you probably get a full or near full pension with benefits. If you buy a $500,000 house and keep S1 million to live on, you get nothing at all and Shorten wants to steal 30% of your income every year as punishment for saving the government $40K a year.

    The system is just so stuffed up and illogical - and ALL politicians seem to just want to make it a hundred times worse!

    It SHOUILD be clear to everyone that either our politicians are totally STUPID and INEPT, or they are trying to deliberately to destroy society for some evil end. It just boggles the mind that some are dumb enough to swallow very obvious lies and argue against plain common sense logic.

    A universal income does offer some major advantages. It would save mega-millions in welfare administration costs and policing. It would remove tons of stress causing mental illness. It would give people freedom to strive. It would remove the dumb penalties for doing what's good for the nation and the idiotic rewards for being irresponsible. Combined with a sensible tax regime, I can't see why it wouldn't be affordable.

    The alternative is a transaction tax, which has been evidenced to be affordable and workable and would solve a myriad of problems. I just don't think ANYONE in Canberra has the guts or the intelligence to do ANYTHING sensible to fix the problems we face - or else THEY JUST DON'T WANT TO because they have another agenda.
    Adrianus
    6th Apr 2018
    9:25am
    "If you earn $250,000 a year, you get a massive tax concession to help build a multi-million dollar super fund. If you earn $30,000 a year, you get little or nothing. "


    That's not true Rainey.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    10:08am
    Thoughtful - maybe your parents forgot to register your birth at Australia House in London. Born in the UK means being an English subject, one has to register one's child at the appropriate Consulate or High Commission to get him/her the parents' citizenship. Same happened to a mate of mine, only discovered it later in life.
    Thoughtful
    6th Apr 2018
    12:02pm
    I am not here to comment on any individual circumstance. Just to point out that everybody has an axe to grind and the whole system of welfare and tax is ridiculous. If nothing is addressed soon I fear for the future of this country. Total overhaul is required. Anybody looking at change should be able to express an opinion - even the Greens, although without business investment no government has revenue to implement change. This is the problem - we are just reshuffling any available revenue at great expense and achieving nothing. No government will make the difficult choices - they get voted out!
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    12:33pm
    "If you earn $250,000 a year, you get a massive tax concession to help build a multi-million dollar super fund. If you earn $30,000 a year, you get little or nothing. "

    How is that not true, Adrianus? Low income earners pay 15c in the dollar on superannuation earnings, even if their marginal tax rate is 0. High income earners also pay 15c, even if on the top marginal tax rate. So high income earners DO get a massive tax concession to help build multi-million dollar super funds, while low income earners get little or nothing. It IS true.
    Old Geezer
    6th Apr 2018
    1:14pm
    OGR high income earners pay up to 30% on their super contributions if they earn more than a certain amount. However their super fund only pays a maximum of 15% tax.
    Anonymous
    6th Apr 2018
    4:34pm
    And that's my point, OG. The high income earner is getting a huge tax concession to boost his super, but the low income earner has his super earnings at either a few cents above, or potentially even below his marginal rate. No help for him to save for retirement! But that's okay, since he will get a fat handout after retirement age. Clearly, if you are not rich you should NOT bother to save for retirement. I don't know how the OAP bill is ever to reduce though, when it just gets harder and harder for people to avoid the OAP.
    Adrianus
    19th Apr 2018
    12:19pm
    Sorry for the late response.
    "If you earn $250,000 a year, you get a massive tax concession to help build a multi-million dollar super fund. If you earn $30,000 a year, you get little or nothing. "

    OGR,
    You know that a low (<$37k) income earner gets a refund from the ATO called Low income super tax offset? Which effectively offsets the Bob Hawke introduced 15% contributions tax.
    In addition they receive a co-contribution on a $1,000 at a maximum $500. This effectively provides a 50% return on their investment from day one.
    A member on an income of $250k cannot possibly match that.

    7th Apr 2018
    7:05am
    Um! Excuse me Greens, but aren't you the mob that got the assets test changed? And now we are supposed to believe you support a universal income - income to the very people you happily crucified for having worked hard and saved.

    I think an universal income is the right solution to our society's problems. We certainly need to abolish targeted welfare, because all it does is make more people want or need to be targets. But I don't trust a mob who, just a little while ago, were happy to demolish the lifestyles of people who worked hard and saved to conceive any system that encourages working and saving. And what we NEED in this country is a system that encourages and rewards working and saving. More prosperity equals more capacity to help those who, for whatever reason, are unable to prosper.
    Franky
    7th Apr 2018
    2:40pm
    I say it again, we need a standard age pension which everyone receives regardless of assets and income. The more assets and income one has the more tax they have contributed to the government, and it's only fair that they would be getting some compensation for that. Most Western countries have this practice and only our government seems so stingy. They could save a lot of money by not getting involved in other people's wars and cutting defense spending. But that's a holy cow......
    Anonymous
    9th Apr 2018
    10:26am
    I can't agree that the more assets one has, the more they have contributed to the government. Too many wealthy people DO find ways to avoid tax. But I do agree that we should have a standard aged pension paid to everyone regardless of assets and income. Firstly doing so would provide a strong incentive for people to work and save for retirement, because the penalty is removed and they are able to enjoy what they worked and saved for - which is as it should be, and which improves productivity. Secondly, needs-based welfare drives a welfare mentality, and that's bad for the nation.

    Our aged are treated worse than the aging in almost every other nation in the world. We spend far less on the aged than other countries. We now have a superannuation system that SHOULD be enabling people to enjoy a comfortable retirement, but huge tax subsidies flow to the high income earners and little or none to the strugglers, defeating the purpose. Then those who saved are deprived and denigrated in their later years, and those who didn't are rewarded with pensions - driving more to connive and manipulate to APPEAR less wealthy than they are, or to spend extravagantly and rely on the public for support later. This approach is patently detrimental to everyone.
    Adrianus
    19th Apr 2018
    12:25pm
    Sorry for the late response.
    "If you earn $250,000 a year, you get a massive tax concession to help build a multi-million dollar super fund. If you earn $30,000 a year, you get little or nothing. "

    OGR,
    You know that a low (<$37k) income earner gets a refund from the ATO called Low income super tax offset? Which effectively offsets the Bob Hawke introduced 15% contributions tax.
    In addition they receive a co-contribution on a $1,000 at a maximum $500. This effectively provides a 50% return on their investment from day one.
    A member on an income of $250k cannot possibly match that.
    Bulla
    19th Apr 2018
    1:30pm
    I have been searching salary,perqs and pension entitlements rules applicable to the elected parliamentarians (both States and Federal of both houses) as I have not been able to find these details.A link from website will do if any one could please guide.
    thanks


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