Friday, November 22, 2013

Plan to raise retirement age to 70

While one understands the beancounting in this, it seems rather harsh.  Something like a half of males die before they are 70 so would have had zero years of retirement before they died.  Since many people in routine employment rely on the prospect of a pleasant retirement to keep going, that could be pretty destructive.  It takes away the reward for keeping on

AUSTRALIANS would be forced to work until they turn 70, under a radical late-retirement plan from the government's top policy agency.  Pensioners would also have to hand the taxman a slice of the family home to help pay for aged care.

The Productivity Commission will today propose lifting the pension age from 65 to 70, to save taxpayers $150 billion in welfare and health spending as the baby boom generation hits retirement.

The PC calculates that taxes would need to rise 21 per cent to pay for the extra health and aged care costs of a population that will have more 100-year-olds than babies by the turn of the century.

Children born today will live well into their 90s, it says, and the number of Australians older than 75 will increase by 4 million - roughly the population of Sydney or Melbourne - over the next 50 years.

However the most provocative suggestion contained in the report is to raise the retirement age to 70 - saving taxpayers $78,000 in pension payments to every retiree.  The pension age is already on track to increase to 67 years by 2023, while the "preservation age" for accessing superannuation will jump from 55 to 60 years by 2024.

Taxpayers spent $36 billion last financial year on pensions for the nation's 2.4 million retirees, who receive $376 a week for singles or $567 a week for couples.  Two out of three Australians aged 65 or older rely on the aged pension.

The report says the GFC wiped out a third of Australians' superannuation savings - pushing more people onto the old age pension.

It also reveals that generation Y stands to inherit a massive $400 billion worth of housing over the next 15 years - even though one in three baby boomers will leave nothing to the kids.  A third of baby boomers expect to spend all their money and assets before they die.

The report also proposes tapping into pensioners' greatest asset - the family home - by making them hand the government half the yearly increase in their home's value.

A pensioner with a home worth $500,000, for example, could expect to see its value rise by $10,000 a year.

Once a pensioner needed assistance at home - or if their partner had to enter an aged care home - then half that capital gain, or $5000 a year, would be earmarked for the government.

The money would be paid to the government once the house was sold.

"Having individuals contribute even half the annual real increase in their home values towards aged care services could reduce government expenditures by around 30 per cent," the report says.

"An equity release scheme of this kind would still leave older households with an appreciating asset base and provide a means to increase the quality of services provided over the long term."

The report says Australia will have to spend an extra 6 per cent of national income to support an ageing population over the next 50 years.

It warns that governments will need to raise taxes or cut other spending to pay the bills.


W.A. cop threatens cyclist with rape  -- but that's OK says Police commissioner

WESTERN Australia's top cop has backed the Perth policeman who has become an internet viral hit after being filmed swearing at a cyclist during a confrontation over a ticket.

Video footage of the confrontation posted on Facebook by John Martin attracted more than 21,300 likes in 24 hours, and was shared nearly 6000 times.

In the clip, the man argumentatively asks what crime he has committed and tells the officer to go "stop some criminals".

The policeman then walks close to the man and says: "If you swear one more time I will put you in the lock up for disorderly, just like last time".

"I will deny your bail and some big fella is going to play with your a....... during the night.  "If that's what you want, say one more swear word."

The police revealed the officer had admitted to overreacting, and Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said he would be counselled.

But an outpouring of public support for the officer also prompted the commissioner to back his man.

"He was under pressure from someone who is extremely cocky, had a very bad attitude ... the policeman was trying to do his job and he gets this tirade back. He lost his cool," the Commissioner told 6PR.

"This guy has accepted no blame for the escalation of the situation whatsoever. His total view of the world is it is somebody else's problem, they did the wrong thing and I was OK.

"The public have had enough of this general lack of respect for people in authority, and not just police."

The commissioner also said he would be asking investigators to inspect the Facebook page where the video was posted.  "Maybe he wants to run home from work and pull it down before we see it," Mr O'Callaghan said.

The incident occurred on Fyfe St, Forrestfield at about 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

Yesterday, Mr Martin, 24, told Nine News he was considering pressing charges against the officer.  "It's unacceptable, police shouldn't be allowed to treat the public like that," he said.  "You shouldn't threaten anyone with rape, especially if you're a police officer."

Yesterday police Inspector Dominic Wood said the officer had admitted he acted inappropriately, but that the snippet of footage does not show the whole event.

"We have thousands of interactions every day with police officers talking to members of the public. This is rare," Insp Wood said.

"It's a tough job and that officer has come across somebody that's obviously pushed his buttons and tried to get a reaction.

"The officer wouldn't have known he was being recorded under those circumstances."

Police union president George Tilbury said officers dealt with the public 24 hours a day and were often involved in "frustrating and stressful situations."

"As the full video has not been uploaded and the entirety of the circumstances are unknown, it is very difficult to comment on the actions of the officer," Mr Tilbury said.

"However, police officers should always do their utmost to portray a professional image, which can be difficult given that they are under more scrutiny than any other profession.

"Our members need to be aware that in this modern age of technology their actions and interactions with the public will be filmed, often without their knowledge or permission."

Police Minister Liza Harvey indicated to reporters that using foul language was inappropriate but she would leave the matter to police to investigate internally.


Zoe's Law passes in NSW Parliament lower house

Controversial foetal rights legislation known as Zoe's Law passes NSW Parliament's lower house on a conscience vote but won't be seen by the upper house until next year. Nine News.

The controversial foetal rights bill known as Zoe's Law has been passed in the lower house of the NSW Parliament despite opposition by some government ministers and MPs.

Prompted by the stillbirth of Brodie Donegan's daughter, Zoe, after Mrs Donegan was hit by a car while she was 36 weeks pregnant, the bill for the first time recognises a crime of grievous bodily harm against an unborn child as a person.
Brodie Donegan with her 2 year old son Lachlan Ball and her 5 yr old daughter Ashlee. Brodie was hit by a car when she was 8 months pregnant and lost the baby who she named Zoe.

The bill was put to a conscience vote and carried, 63 votes to 26.

Ministers who voted against the bill in the lower house on Thursday included Health Minister Jillian Skinner, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, Environment Minister Robyn Parker and the Minister for Women, Pru Goward.

MPs from both sides of politics who opposed the Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill said its definition of a foetus at 20 weeks, or 400 grams, as an unborn child, taken to be a separate living person, was arbitrary.

Liberal MP for Hornsby Matt Kean was among government MPs who spoke against the bill, saying it would "open the door to unintended consequences".

"I strongly believe that the current laws adequately address and deal with criminal incidents involving the death of an unborn child," he said.

"Intentionally causing grievous bodily harm carries a penalty of up to 25 years, and recklessly doing the same carries a maximum penalty of 14 years.

"If the mother of the child is injured, and the foetus is destroyed, both harms can be taken into consideration as aggravating factors, as outlined in section 21A(g) Crimes (Sentencing and Procedure) Act."

The National Party MP for Bathurst, Paul Toole, supported the bill, saying the "eyes of the law" should recognise unborn children like Zoe.

Premier Barry O'Farrell spoke in support of the bill.  "For me this is a simple question," he said. "If a woman is injured in some way, that woman is pregnant, there ought to be a recognition in the law of that fact."  "Anybody who has met or has heard Brodie Donegan's story could not help but be moved."

Shadow Treasurer, Michael Daley, said he was pro-choice and would also support the bill.

"If I thought this was a bill that did pit the rights of an unborn child against the rights of the mother, I would not be supporting the bill," he said. "But rather, I see this as a bill that pits the rights of an unborn child against the actions of an alleged or potential wrongdoer."

The NSW Law Society has criticised the law as unnecessary, saying it will lead to unjust sentencing, with its definition of an unborn child likely to spill into murder and manslaughter cases.

Women's groups fear the legislation will interfere with a woman's right to have an abortion.

Zoe's Law seeks to define a 20-week-old foetus as a living person, so that charges of grievous bodily harm can be laid if a pregnant woman loses her unborn child in a motor vehicle accident or assault.

The law recognises grievous bodily harm to the mother, with a maximum penalty of 20 years' jail, if her foetus dies in these circumstances.

Chris Spence, the Liberal MP for The Entrance who introduced the bill on behalf of Ms Donegan, his constituent, said the death of Zoe had touched many people.

"This bill will ensure that the law recognises and acknowledges [an unborn child] in rare cases where the death of an unborn child comes about by the criminal actions of another," he said.

Mr Spence said the bill will not open the way to prosecutions in relation to lawful abortions and treatments.

However, the NSW Greens status of women spokeswoman, Mehreen Faruqi, said her party would fight against the legislation in the upper house.

"It is extremely disappointing that so many MPs from both Labor and the Coalition would vote to support a law that has been opposed by many legal and health bodies, such as the NSW Bar Association, the Australian Medical Association NSW, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists," she said.

"The Greens, with many women's and community groups, have been campaigning to expose this law for what it is, an unnecessary and dangerous law that will restrict women's rights and access to reproductive health."


Sea Shepherd defeat highlights pointless regulator

The High Court of Australia has refused to hear an appeal from Sea Shepherd Australia, which had been suing the Australian Tax Office over its decision not to award the organisation deductible gift recipient (DGR) status under Commonwealth charity law. This marks the end of a long legal battle for the controversial marine conservation group, whose aggressive harassment of Japanese whaling ships was earlier this year condemned by a U.S. court as 'the very embodiment of piracy.'

Sea Shepherd had based its appeal on a clause in the Income Tax Assessment Act which says a charity qualifies for tax-deductible donations if its principal activity is 'providing short-term direct care to animals...that have been lost, mistreated, or are without owners.'

This clause is usually applied to shelters that find homes for unwanted pets, or rescue hospitals for pets and wild animals that have been hit by cars or injured in natural disasters.

Three years after the ATO ruled that Sea Shepherd's harrying of Japanese ships did not qualify it for this tax exemption, the courts have now conclusively affirmed that decision. Fortunately, this appeal will not cost the taxpayer anything, since Sea Shepherd has been ordered to pay the ATO's legal costs.

In late 2012, the Gillard government established the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (with an annual budget of $15 million) as a new federal regulator for the not-for-profit sector. Its responsibilities include determining which organisations qualify for charitable status, a task formerly handled by the ATO.

During the last election campaign the Coalition pledged to abolish the ACNC as an unnecessary addition to the charity sector's regulatory burden, but abolition will require an act of Parliament. The ACNC's commissioner has been assuring the public that it will be 'business as usual' for the organisation until such an act is passed. Last month, the charity-watchers at the law firm Makinson d'Apice speculated that 'the ACNC is likely to survive due to the complexity in unwinding the legislation connected with it.'

The ATO's sound decision on Sea Shepherd's DGR status and its successful defence of this decision in the courts prove that it is perfectly ready to resume responsibility for determining which organisations should receive charity tax exemptions in the event the ACNC is abolished.

The Coalition should use the occasion of Sea Shepherd's legal defeat to trumpet the ATO's record as a responsible and conscientious adjudicator of charitable status, and press ahead with its plan to abolish the ACNC.


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