Monday, June 09, 2014

Struggling pensioners opt to leave Australia for a cheaper country

The article below and headline above is another effort from dear little Cosima Marriner, who has a lot of blonde hair but is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  The basic datum upon which she relies is that in 2012 a total of 38,000 elderly Italians, Greeks and Kiwis returned to their home countries to spend their retirement.  Why that proves anything  is anyone's guess and it should be neither surprising nor alarming to anyone.  I would have thought that it is the business of the people concerned only

She notes a substantial increase in emigration between 2007 and 2012 but fails to mention that she is referring to the period of the Labor government being in office. So if there is any blame to be handed out, she should be attacking Rudd and Gillard. She in fact mentions only the current government.  No prizes for guessing that she writes for the frantically Leftist Sydney Morning Herald!

Age pensioners are moving overseas where they can live more cheaply, as the pension fails to keep pace with the cost of living and their superannuation proves inadequate.

As the federal government moves to extend the retirement age to 70, government data shows there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people claiming the Australian age pension living overseas between 2007 and 2012.  Over the same time, the total number of age pensioners grew only 17 per cent.

There are 2.3 million people receiving an age pension, a figure that is steadily climbing as the population ages. About 3 per cent of these pensioners live overseas.

The government slashed $2.1 billion from pension spending in last month's budget.


Fair work commission: what a misnomer that is

JAMES Bond preferred his mar­tinis shaken not stirred. I prefer my regulators boring not activist. I also prefer efficient not profligate.

Now there are quite a few regulators I could pick on, but recent developments at the Fair Work Commission are right up there when it comes to manipulated processes, inappropriate spending and poor decisions.

In fact, if you go to the revamped website of the FWC, you might initially think you are looking at the site of some low-rent business consultant trying to drum up work. The heading screams: “Creating Fair Workplaces: find information on creating fair and productive work-places and preventing workplace disputes”.

The site has information on the commission’s engagement strategy, stakeholder engagement, workplace engage­ment, research community, international engagement and workplace relations education. Yes, I can hear you groaning. Please, spare us stakeholder engagement.

And what is the FWC doing spending money on international engagement? Note to Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann: this outfit is clearly overfunded.

Let’s face it – the FWC (and its predecessor bodies) has always been a strange beast. Based on the profoundly mistaken proposition that its findings can somehow overrule market forces, the institution barrels on, seemingly oblivious to the transformation of the Australian economy and labour market.

Most members of the FWC, whose appointments are the result of political and trade union ­allegiances, live in some sort of para­llel world while employers struggle to make payroll and a decent return on the capital and effort involved in running businesses.

While seemingly impossible, the FWC has taken a distinct turn for the worse since the appointment of Labor mate Iain Ross as president in 2012.

Ross was, once upon a time, an assistant secretary at the ACTU, before being appointed to the Australia Industrial Relations Commission in 1994 at the age of 35. He didn’t stay long and opted for a ­judicial appointment in Victoria where Labor was in office.

Now, like some over-exuberant, newly appointed business executive, Ross has taken an axe to any arrangements at the FWC he disliked, brought in new staff and rejigged processes. The flaunty website is just one manifestation of the new broom.

Amazingly, the politically motivated and partisan way in which the Labor government appointed new members to the FWC was largely ignored by the press. More than 90 per cent of appointees were either former union officials or Labor friends.

Certainly, some of these appointments preceded Ross. There was the convenient appointment of Ian Cambridge, former national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, effectively preventing him from saying anything publicly about the AWU slush fund scandal involving Julia Gillard.

And then there was the very expedient appointment of former general manager of the FWC, Tim Lee, which then prevented him from answering questions before the Senate estimates committee about the unforgivably drawn out FWC investigation of Craig Thomson’s misuse of Health Service Union funds.

The most egregious example of all is the appointment of two new vice-presidents, undertaken at the suggestion of Ross, with union bestie Bill Shorten then as workplace minister, more than happy to oblige.

Not only were their services not needed, their appointment effectively downgraded the seniority of two long-serving vice-presidents (but ranked as deputy presidents), both of whom were regarded with suspicion by the Labor government.

Now one of the new vice-presidents is hogging all the important cases, while other vice-presidents are left twiddling their thumbs. As for those other deputy presidents, they are pushed further down the pecking order.

In an extraordinary development, one of the members of FWC publicly wrote to the president raising concerns about the process of selecting commissioners to deal with significant cases. In typical PR style, the only comment from the FWC was “it is not possible for the commission to comment. It is entirely dependent upon what the author regards as ‘significant’.”

Come on. We have a five-commissioner review of the modern award system and one of the new vice-presidents is given the gig ahead of the demoted vice-­president who was involved in the initial case.

And then there has been the complete schemozzle of the review of the default superannuation funds included in awards. Ross has now decided to appoint himself to this panel, further contaminating a completely flawed process. (Note to government: legislate to remove default superannuation funds in awards.)

All the time, the FWC is spending taxpayer money on ‘‘research’’ undertaken by organisations with views in line with the president, while sidelining all other organisations. It is spending taxpayer money on a blatantly slanted workplace relations education ­series, including lectures and mock hearings.

Now maybe the public might be prepared to tolerate all this ­superfluous and expensive guff if the FWC did a good job at the main tasks set down in the legislation, but here, it is clearly failing in its main undertakings.

The FWC cannot even get the simple things right. Effectively, the modern awards that the FWC created were simply the result of stuffing together state and federal awards and moving to the highest common denominators.

Modern awards, covering some 16 per cent of the workforce, are badly worded, ambiguous and confusing.

Analysis undertaken by the Fair Work ombudsman found that of the 122 modern awards, 85 per cent do not state clearly when overtime and penalty rates apply. In fact, just five modern awards clearly state when penalty rates apply. Is it any wonder that employers are confused?

The FWC has also handed down a series of quite bizarre and economically irresponsible decisions including: the pay equity determination in respect of social and community service workers; lifting the pay for apprentices; eliminating junior rates of pay for 20-year-olds; and refusing to countenance any serious changes to penalty rates arrangements.

The FWC is a relic of a bygone era in which industries were protected, the financial system was regulated and a majority of workers belonged to trade unions. While its reputation has hit rock-bottom, sadly its decision-making processes roll on, damaging businesses and marginal workers alike.

Ross is proving to be an extremely divisive leader who has effectively politicised the FWC. The government needs to take note. Appointing an appellate body to review the decisions of the FWC is a good first step to taming the beast, but it may not be enough.


Slack Australian ship-builders have finally cut their own throats

THE future of naval shipbuilding in Australia hangs in the balance after the Abbott Government excluded local yards from a major new contract due to poor project performance.

In the first sign that the government has had enough, Defence will go offshore to buy two new replenishment ships for the fleet for $1.5 billion.

News Corp Australia last month revealed that the government was considering a Korean solution for the project to replace the ageing supply ships HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius and Defence Minister David Johnston announced a two-horse competition between Korean giant Daewoo Shipbuilding and Spanish builder Navantia.

Australian shipbuilders including BAE Systems in Melbourne, ASC in Adelaide and Forgacs in Newcastle have been deliberately excluded by the hard-line move that will place thousands of jobs at risk.

Senator Johnston blamed the “poor performance” of Australian yards working on the $8.5 billion Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) project, but added that the ships at more than 20,000 tonnes were too big for Australian yards.

The prime culprit has been the Adelaide based and taxpayer owned ASC and its teaming partners US giant Raytheon and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO.

“No responsible government could consider providing further work to an industry that is performing so poorly,” Senator Johnston said.

BAE System"s Williamstown dockyard, that has been performing well on several big projects and was a prime candidate for the replenishment ship job, appears to have been caught in the crossfire.

The future of the Melbourne shipyard and thousands of jobs is now uncertain given that the competition for 20 new Pacific Patrol boats will take years to decide.

However, it could be thrown a lifeline under the remediation plans for the AWD project with two ships left to build.

Senator Johnston announced an open competition to supply 20 new steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats job and a $78 million injection for preliminary engineering and design work in Australia for Navy"s future frigate.

He also announced yet another review of naval shipbuilding and the long-term needs of the Navy.

Unions warned that sending work offshore would cost jobs and skills.  "If the government is aiming to create a shipbuilding industry that"s up to international benchmark standard, ensuring there is work is a good first step," AMWU national assistant secretary Glenn Thompson said.

BAE Systems said it would be putting a strong case to the Government that it was ready to take on additional work and responsibilities to help deliver the AWD project.

ASC said it was focused on ensuring the global competitiveness of the shipbuilding industry and it welcomed the including of the Korean solution, which it had proposed in 2013, for the replenishment ship project.

"As well as providing the required capability for the RAN, constructing auxiliary ships also provided one opportunity for ASC to maintain our Adelaide workforce," it said in a statement.


Shorten by name, short-sighted by nature

SELLING the Budget should not have been as difficult a task as it is proving to be for the ­Abbott government.

The fundamentals are obvious to any intelligent person and were obvious to previous Labor leaders, notably those true reformers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.

Both were well aware that no nation could keep spending forever without having to ­settle the inevitable debts.

This fact of life has eluded Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who for purely political purposes has even reneged on his own campaign pledges to thwart the elected government’s mandate to restore some sanity to the economy.

Shorten by name, short-sighted by nature.

His tactic is reminiscent of the disgraceful decision by former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, when in opposition, not to support Labor premier Morris Iemma’s 2008 attempt to reconcile the state budget by privatising the power industry.

In doing so, and in refusing to agree to the sale of poles and wires when in office, despite urging from treasurer Mike Baird, O’Farrell stalled the ­development of much-needed NSW infrastructure.

Baird will reverse that decision, finally, and the state will be better off.

But the Abbott government should have always known Labor would be unlikely to put the national interest first.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I know a number of older guys (mostly straight I might add) who go to live in Thailand, not for the grubby sex, but for the ability to live comparatively comfortably, where in Australia their retirement would be a constant hand-to-mouth battle.