Letters to
the editor

Financial mistake of early access

One of the original reasons for the establishment of superannuation funds in Australia was to encourage individuals to build a safety net for retirement, which not only protected the retiree but also shifted an enormous amount of financial responsibility from the public purse to private savings. Recent figures show this was being achieved – in 2019 there were more self-funded retirees in the 60-64 age group than there were pensioners. The insanity of the Morrison government in allowing people direct access to their super funds means we now have about 600,000 people with no superannuation at all and no prospects for it in the future – a great number of them women. In one stupid move, the parliament has shifted a great deal of the debt of this pandemic from the national budget to the individual (Mike Seccombe, “Super funds transformed by Liberal ideology”, August 8-14). The debt has moved from something that could have been incrementally managed nationally, to a future financial disaster of enormous proportions.

– Gerry Gillespie, Queanbeyan, NSW

Not the time for tough approach

The highly punitive coronavirus response in Australia is indeed alarming, and Osman Faruqi should be commended for his article “A nation of cops” (August 8-14). By identifying the parallels between the pandemic response and the ongoing war on drugs, Faruqi shows public health issues being treated as matters of criminal justice, and points to penal populism as driving this approach. Politicians, egged on by a media exploiting the public’s hunger for outrage, compete to be tough on crime with the consequent expansion of police budgets, visibility, institutional prestige and ultimately power. This dynamic offers a useful view of the present and has certain explanatory power, yet is part of a wider reconstruction of public authority under neoliberalism, whereby the state renounces its role of ensuring collective welfare and reverts to the traditional authoritarian impulse to discipline its subjects.

– Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby, NSW

Law-breakers need to be controlled

While I have no deep philosophical problem with Osman Faruqi’s Comment piece, I do find his argument more emotional than practical. While organised crime syndicates – including bikie gangs – operate with total disregard for the law to enrich themselves with the proceeds of crime and the sale of drugs that undermine our civil and social structure, we need powerful law enforcement agencies resourced to the full extent of modern technology. While there are members of the community thumbing their noses at commonsense emergency measures in the face of a pandemic, we need a police force empowered to drive home the restrictions required to get on top of this killer disease. While we have street-crime practised as a pastime by sections of the community and reckless arrogance on our roads, we’re going to need a fully funded police force. In a law-abiding society we wouldn’t need a nation of cops. Let us know when we have one and I’ll join you at the barricades, Osman.

– John Mosig, Kew, Vic

For dear life

What is one day, or week, or month of life worth? (Editorial, “Bingo at the Styx”, August 8-14) When commentators pose this question, and formulate an expedient answer, they are essentially playing fast and loose with the truth about my neighbour’s life and my life. The pandemic has forced unwelcome change in our lives; however, our focus on the inherent value and dignity of all life empowers us to withstand the difficulties. The paid commentariat would do well to remember their politically motivated mutterings about the value of other people’s lives diminishes their own capacity for that essential life-giving force: humility. Virus or no virus.

– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW

Aiming high for Indigenous equality

We should all praise efforts by Indigenous leaders, together with governments, to renew the Closing the Gap targets established by my government. But we should not accept Morrison’s spin in doing so. Your editorial (“The turning point”, August 1-7) painted the six original targets as unachievable, as though it’s too ambitious to imagine equality in areas such as health, education and unemployment. These targets were crafted in close consultation between Indigenous leaders and Jenny Macklin. As of this year, Australia was on track to meet two of these targets – early childhood education and year 12 attainment – and showing moderate success on two more, child mortality and basic skills. These gains were underpinned by the setting of targets, measuring success and compelling the prime minister of the day to account for their government’s successes and failures. Indeed, this political pressure was key to pushing the conservatives to the renegotiating table. We also can’t let the Coalition off the hook for Tony Abbott’s cuts to Indigenous funding in 2014, including a $534.4 million “rationalisation” (that is, cut) to Indigenous programs. It’s therefore fair to ask what new money is being pledged to these new targets. After a week, we learn the answer is just $46.5 million over four years (barely 1 per cent of the $4.6 billion we dedicated in 2008). Nobody’s saying money alone is the solution, but it’s a hollow gesture to set targets without backing them up with physical resources. Even worse, we shouldn’t exonerate the conservatives for effectively sabotaging the original targets by extracting half a billion dollars as though it’s of trivial effect. It wasn’t.

– Kevin Rudd, Sunshine Coast, Qld

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on August 15, 2020.

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