What lessons can we learn from Trio?

Jun 5, 2012

Matthew Linden warns people with self managed super to do their homework because  — unlike members of retail and industry funds — they have no safety net.

With almost $200 million lost after the collapse of fraudulent investment house Trio Capital,  questions continue to be asked about many aspects of Australia’s biggest super fund scandal. One such question is the lack of compensation for fraud for self managed superannuation funds.

A summary of the report and ramifications

Trio Capital was a sophisticated fraud which roped in clients with the promise of low risk investment for high returns. About 6000 people signed up to invest only to have it wiped out six years later.

Matthew Linden, chief policy adviser for Industry Super Network, believes there were warning signs with Trio which went unheeded. He tells 3Q that financial advisers, acting on large commissions, failed to investigate the fund before recommending the investment. With the introduction of new legislation starting this July which prevents future commissions to financial advisers, he believes the incentives which have driven poor quality advice will be largely prohibited.

TRENDS: Feeling the pain: fair go for Tories

Jun 4, 2012

Labor takes pride in being there for those up against hard luck. Targeted financial assistance comes in many forms, whether co-investment to an auto industry being hammered by the two-speed economy, childcare rebates to hard-up families, or the straight cash injection into middle Australian wallets.

It appears there is a new victim of the Australian economy in need of a rescue package: the Coalition voter.

With interest rates, inflation and unemployment all under the 5 per cent threshold, Australia is bucking the global trend in maintaining stability in the face of global unrest. But our polling this week shows only around one third of Australians are prepared to say the economy is performing well.

And while many are unimpressed with Australia’s performance, Coalition voters – and that’s a lot of people these days – are feeling the economic pain more intensely.

Read more on this at the Drum

Why do the first 28 days count?

May 29, 2012

In developing countries each year, 4 million babies die within their first 28 days of life. The first few days of life are crucial to survival with babies 500 times more likely to die in their first day of life than once they reach one month old. During this time, simple measures like hygiene, supervision and care can mean the difference between life and death.

Read more about this at the WHO media centre.

UNICEF Australia’s CEO Norman Gillespie tells 3Q that a new campaign which focuses on these first days aims to combat the problem by expanding the implementation of simple at-home interventions proven to be instrumental in preventing neonatal deaths.

In cases where babies are premature, UNICEF has instituted the Kangaroo Mother Care program, teaching mothers how to stabilise their baby’s breathing, heartbeat and temperature by wrapping them in a cloth ‘pouch’ close to the mother’s chest.

In a landmark study undertaken in India, community health workers were trained to recognise and treat serious neonatal illnesses with the result being drastically reduced child mortality rates.

Are billionaires bullying Australia?

May 29, 2012

When Wayne Swan attacked mining magnates for undermining Australia’s national interests in pursuit of their own ends it created a storm of controversy.

Yet the mining magnates haven’t been shy about opposing the mining tax and climate change policy.

And now Clive Palmer is running for office, Gina Rinehart has bought big into Fairfax and Twiggy Forrest is challenging the mining tax in the High Court.

CFMEU National President Tony Maher wants our mining magnates to concentrate less on their billions and more on using their wealth to improve Australia. Find out about the CFMEU’s ad campaign here.

He wonders whether Australia will ever have a Warren Buffet or Bill Gates fighting for the rights of many rather than the rights of a few.

Or will the billionaires soon be launching their own campaign to save themselves?

What can we learn from the Greeks?

May 29, 2012

It’s increasingly clear that Greece’s woes are partly to blame on its public pension system — over generous, over subscribed and now underfunded.

Like the rest of the western world, Australia also has an ageing population and some sections of the population are reliant on the government pension.

James Coyle from AustralianSuper tells 3Q that our superannuation system keeps our economy strong and individuals protected. Super is not only a tax-effective way to save, it also reduces pressure on government funding because less people are solely reliant on the age pension.

Although our super savings took a beating in the GFC, superannuation savings of $1.3 trillion helped Australia through the GFC via indirect investment to help Australian companies raise equity and lessen dependence on the overseas debt market.

TRENDS: Bosses’ flexibility arguments a bit of a stretch

May 28, 2012

Jackie Woods says the bosses’ enthusiasm for casual workers is self interest at work.

Australia’s business lobby has donned its loose cotton pants and signed up for yoga. And like many fitness enthusiasts, they can’t stop talking about it. It’s flexibility, flexibility, flexibility.

Profits down, or just not high enough? Penalty rates getting on your nerves? Productivity sluggish? For big business, workplace ‘flexibility’ is the cure-all.

The employer-driven agenda to increase workplace flexibility has led to a rise in casual work arrangements in Australia, a sleeper issue catapulted into the headlines by the ACTU campaign on insecure work.

This has led to some extraordinary claims from business about the social benefits of casual work that follow a few predictable lines of argument.

Read more at the Drum

Why would anyone join a union?

May 15, 2012

Ged Kearney says the union movement needs to emphasise its achievements rather than letting others focus on the negatives.

As the ACTU Congress meets this week, the HSU East and Craig Thomson affairs continue to dominate the political landscape.

But ACTU President Ged Kearney says Congress will be focusing on the future and the policies which make the work place — and society – fairer.

She tells 3Q that even though union membership has dropped, thousands of people join unions every year. With an increasingly casualised workforce, Kearney says unions are needed more than ever.

How will public sector cuts affect you?

May 15, 2012

Nadine Flood believes the public will experience more delays and long queues because of cuts to government services.

There’s a common misconception that most public servants are Canberra based, well paid and underworked. But two thirds of the public sector actually work outside of the national capital and are on average or below average wages.

CPSU National Secretary Nadine Flood tells 3Q that the public will notice the difference when over 4000 cuts are made to the public sector this year.

Read the CPSU’s round up of the implications the Federal Budget will have on the public sector.

And she says Tony Abbott’s plans to slash the public service would be disastrous.