JULIEANNE Strachan's article (''Super in the line of fire'', Canberra Times, May 4, p1/8) is a well-balanced commentary on the commission of audit's recommendation to close the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme (MSBS) to new members.
However, the statement in the opening paragraph that MSBS is ''one of the most generous superannuation schemes in the country'' is seriously flawed, in my opinion. Far from being generous, the scheme has a costly sting in its tail because there is no portability provision and members leaving the ADF cannot get access to the employer benefit component often until 20 to 30 years later. While preserved over all those years, that notional employer contribution is indexed only to the consumer price index. Not being able to withdraw and roll it into a better-performing private super fund of their choice, he/she will find that when they do finally get access, the purchasing power of their preserved benefit has significantly eroded. The loss can be as much as $360,000, because the private funds have returned on average about twice CPI over the long term. A scheme that does that can hardly be labelled ''generous''. At June 30 last year, there were about 92,000 military folk with preserved benefits. What do we want to rectify the injustice? Two key things: MSBS pensions and preserved benefits to be indexed in the same way as the age pensions; and MSBS members with preserved benefits given the choice of rolling their benefit into a complying super fund on leaving the ADF. We also want the maximum benefit limit abolished.
Colonel David Jamison AM (Rtd), National President Defence Force Welfare Association
MILITARY super is caught up in cost-cutting ideas from the commission of audit's report. Should the Parliament create a new military super scheme, then so be it. However, members and retirees under existing schemes must then have their arrangements ''grandfathered''. There should be consultation with appropriate defence service organisations. No employer should dishonour agreed workplace conditions. Yet the super of some old-scheme retirees and that of retirees under the Military Superannuation Benefits Scheme does not maintain purchasing power, despite that being a condition of ADF service. Earlier drawdowns from the Future Fund could easily remedy this. Military super is not social security: it is an earned condition of service. While it has been a user-pays system for decades, the Commonwealth retains notional employer super contributions in consolidated revenue until payment becomes due. Official rhetoric and media speculation raise concern among ADF personnel and veterans that their super is at risk. We say clearly: ''Lay off our super!''
Bert Hoebee, Waramanaga
Roos our responsibility
FRANKIE Seymour (Letters, May 4) is right. Wild kangaroos do ''manage their own population admirably''. Trouble is the reserves in which roos sleep are usually near extensive sheep-grazing lands supplying them with grass and water. And during years of reasonable rainfall, those ''managed'' kangaroo populations soar. The relevant ''management'' mechanism when the inevitable drought hits is not that fascinating roo-controlled pregnancy mechanism: it's many thousands of roos, brought into existence by graziers' grass and water, horrifically dying of hunger and thirst as bare paddocks are destocked, and they are left too weak to jump one last fence. But that all happens out of sight and out of mind. The welfare of those roos is as much a community responsibility as the sheep in whose paddocks they thrived. Any grazier allowing stock to die in similar circumstances would cause community outrage and wind up in jail.
Cuthbert Douglas, Bonython
Leave me out
SO CANBERRA is to have a ''top 300'' invited to join the QT Lounge (Sunday Times 4 May 2014). I do hope the memberships are numbered - so that the lucky 300 know exactly where they rank. I also wonder who was rated ''301'' and if they have been told they were oh so close? Malcolm Paterson, Queanbeyan
IN THE words of Groucho Marx: ''I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member'' (''QT offers exclusivity to nation's top 300'', Canberra Times, May 4).
John Richardson, Wallagoot, NSW
Rich have no conscience
I NOTE Rupert Cornwell's reiterated quote from Sam Nona (Canberra Times, May 4) that in the Western system the gap between the rich and the poor remains intact. Nevertheless a progressive country prides itself not on creating a money-worshipping mentality but on providing equal opportunity to its citizens. He doesn't see Australia as a progressive country by pointing to the university campus where students from ordinary backgrounds work to become useful servants of society. Every progressive society has a cohort of rich people counterbalanced by a huge number of poor people who define the real status quo for their culture, and this will never change. Western society has known this truth for centuries, and the Soviet bloc and the Chinese have adopted it during the past 40 years. The problem being experienced in Australia is a lack of patriotism in that we have companies, quite often totally foreign-owned, sucking minerals out of the ground and selling them overseas with no value added to benefit Australia. We have locally made billionaires who are parasites because their businesses add nothing to the Australian GDP. The citizens who are able to amass capital in enlightened societies usually have a social conscience, but this attitude doesn't apply in Australia.
Les Brennan, Sunshine Bay
Voters will be sorry
IT IS rightly pointed out by Peter Martin that there are risks in handing over to the private sector functions such as coin minting, note printing and payments by government departments, as proposed by the commission of audit (''Owner or not, Canberra carries the can'', May 4, p18).
It is quite clear that the commission and parts of the Abbott government are driven by the ideology of unconstrained (preferably unregulated) free-market capitalism, and that their ''75 Commandments'' comprise the wish list of the Institute of Public Affairs. All three seem unable to see or are unwilling to acknowledge that there is such a thing as dishonesty in private enterprise: The Market is Good (or God). And of course the Abbott government is also driven by a burning, irrational desire to undo most, if not all, of the ''nasty socialist'' reforms of not just the Rudd-Gillard government but also the Keating, Hawke and even the Whitlam governments. Many Australians are going to bitterly regret voting in this mob.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
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