TRENDS: Loss of trust spreading beyond Parliament

Jun 25, 2012

Peter Lewis spells out how Aussies have little trust in anyone or anything — except maybe the ABC.

Trust is hot property in politics. Everyone wants to claim it while undermining their opponent’s. Broken promises are played hard in the hope of achieving political bingo: irreparable reputational damage.

Labor’s flat-lining polls are widely attributed to Julia Gillard’s ‘trust issues’. Mind you, Tony Abbott isn’t considered to be excelling in the trustworthy stakes either. They barely muster a pass mark between them.

But something even more insidious is beginning to occur, as this week’s Essential Report suggests. Loss of trust is contagious. We’re not just cynical about politicians; we are also losing faith in the institutions that underpin public life.

Read the full article on The Drum.

Is superannuation at a crossroads?

Jun 19, 2012

Gerard Noonan explains why Australia’s superannuation scheme is a shining beacon amongst the world’s retirement schemes.

Australia’s super scheme is unlike any other in the world. Anticipating our ageing population and an unsustainable increase in pension payments, the Keating government introduced a scheme which required financial contributions from workers and employers. With generous tax concessions and 25 years under its belt, super funds are now worth over $1.4 trillion. Australians now have more money invested in managed funds per capita than any other economy.
That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been criticism. With the GFC still biting shares and Europe’s woes likely to contribute to a weakening market, many changes have been mooted by various quarters. Some are calling for more investment in local infrastructure while others are questioning whether there is an overinvestment in the sharemarket.
Gerard Noonan tells 3Q the reasons why super is well worth the investment.

Can we afford a long life?

Jun 19, 2012

Paul Schroder says the nature of our work is changing and the significance and reliance of super will increase — especially as we are all living longer.

In 2002, for every person aged 65 and over, there were about 5.3 people working. By 2043, this will decrease to about 2.5 people. That means less people doing more work to maintain health and other services for a burgeoning older population.

Simultaneously, the nature of work has changed so that there is more contract, casual and self employed workers. Australian Super’s Paul Schroder tells 3Q the great challenge for super is to ensure these people continue to make contributions to secure their retirement. Considering one in three children born today will reach 100, super should take equal priority to the family home when it comes to finances.

Can simplifying super make it stronger?

Jun 19, 2012

Matt Linden believes the Government’s latest changes will make super simpler, accessible and more relevant for those who’ve taken their eye off the ball.

How much do you know about your super fund? Who is responsible for looking after your savings? Where and how is your money invested? Who runs the fund?

If you don’t know the answer to many of these questions, you’re not alone. While super is now the biggest asset after the family home, few take an active interest in how it is managed. Because super is compulsory and locked away until retirement, most of us assume it will be there when we need it and focus our financial attention on the here and now.

But Industry Super Network’s Matt Linden tells 3Q the Government’s new measures will make it easier for members to access and understand information about their account.

TRENDS: Trends with Peter Lewis

Jun 18, 2012

Peter Lewis dissects a survey which shows some alarming misconceptions about the nature of their own super.

Some recent polling by EMC shows that not only are people underestimating the amount of money they need to retire on, they also have no idea of how much they will have in reality.
However, there is one common factor. Peter Lewis tells 3Q that most people believe their super will not meet their expectations.

TRENDS: Half Yearly Report Card

Jun 12, 2012

EMC Director Peter Lewis runs the ruler over the first six months of polling and comes out wondering where all the bad vibes are coming from. When politics is toxic, he argues, the progressive side of politics loses.

Can we stamp out racism?

Jun 5, 2012

Dr Helen Szoke explains that people need to learn how to identify and react to racism in social settings.

For the past decade, Australia has become the home of multiculturalism. Half of us were born overseas. In city suburbs Gen Y mixes easily with different nationalities and cultures. The fight against racism appears to have been won. Or has it?

The Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Helen Szoke, tells 3Q racism is still a pervasive problem in Australia, with ethnic minorities and Indigenous people continuing to experience discrimination in subtle and not so subtle ways.

Read a transcript of a recent interview with Dr Szoke on the issue.

Unless they’re celebrating their ethnic diversity through a weekend festival or harmony day at their local school, most Australians want people to drop obvious cultural ties.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is developing a national anti-racism strategy to educate the public on what constitutes racism and how it can be prevented and reduced.

Can we save Asia from asbestos?

Jun 5, 2012

Peter Jennings says over 100,000 people die each year from mesothelioma with two thirds of cases from South East Asia.

It seems unbelievable that it took so long to ban asbestos in Australia, decades after we knew about the dangers. Now it is banned in 51 countries with more joining each year. Yet Canada and Russia continue to export asbestos to developing countries where almost no protection systems exist. In fact, 80 per cent of the growth in asbestos is in South East Asia.

Peter Jennings of Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA tells 3Q about the agency’s work teaching Vietnamese factory workers how to protect themselves while continuing to lobby the Vietnamese Government to ban the toxic building material.

Vietnam imports tens of thousands of tonnes each year to produce cheap asbestos-cement roofing tiles and its continuing use is of international concern. (Read a Wikileaks cable from US embassy in Hanoi about asbestos concerns)

Workers in these factories handle asbestos with their bare hands and use nothing but paper masks at best. Their knowledge of the dangers is close to zero. Although Vietnam planned to ban all forms of asbestos several years ago, strong lobbying from the pro-asbestos forces mean it is still being used.

The agency is hoping for additional AusAID funding (on top of the donations it receives from unions and the public) to assist the mammoth task ahead in not just VIetnam but also bordering Laos.