I usually agree with Ross Gittins but question his latest ruminations ("The great super lie exposed", canberratimes.com.au, November 7).
As any financial investor knows, past performance is no guarantee of future returns.
The Grattan Institute report claims that Australian retirees are, and will be, enjoying the good life despite general public concerns over sufficiency of retirement savings.
While this may be true for a certain band of retirees now, it is nevertheless based on an unprecedented period of economic growth and asset growth (particularly housing) over the past 20 years that is unlikely to be repeated.
Already asset price growth in housing is subdued and the forecast is for declining values (some analysts claim a potential 20 per cent fall) in Sydney and Melbourne.
The share market is more and more like playing Russian roulette as stocks go up and down based on a presidential tweet or the latest geopolitical crisis. There is every chance of major market correction, or substantial downturn, in the coming year.
At the same time, despite the glib observation that medical costs aren't so great, this is certainly not true as the population ages and life expectancy extends into the nineties.
Moreover, aged care costs are staggering – accommodation bonds frequently cost over $500,000. This is likely to rise further as the royal commission weeds out poor operators and demands improved aged care services that will certainly come at additional cost.
Slow or negative investment returns in the coming years bring no joy to the next group of retirees.
Moreover, increasing costs in health and aged care, not to mention energy costs, rates and fuel, mean that the retiree bonanza Ross would have us believe is simply not going to happen.
The great superannuation lie is the belief that all is well and will continue to be for future generations – that past performance will indeed guarantee future returns.
This is a statement that is clearly not true and individuals need to keep this in mind when trying to secure a sound retirement future.
Brad Hinton, Garran
Bishop used as pawn
On the campaign trail for the 2013 election Tony Abbott often said that he would end the chaos of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years and "put the adults back in charge".
Five years (and three prime ministers) later we are able to judge how well that went.
But it is in the field of Foreign Affairs that the current Morrison administration is showing itself to be the least adult we have had in quite some time.
Throughout the five sometimes turbulent Abbott/Turnbull years Julie Bishop showed herself to be an outstanding Foreign Minister who was well briefed, diplomatic and did Australia proud when she chaired the United Nations Security Council.
She was the government's greatest asset and its only high-profile woman. When pitted against the ambitions of Dutton, Morrison and Frydenberg, however, she was just another disposable pawn on the political chess board.
After she was unceremoniously deposed as Deputy Liberal Leader Julie, unsurprisingly, resigned as Foreign Minister with an attitude (one suspects) of "good luck in running the show without me".
Similarly, Malcolm Turnbull decided he would rather have a holiday in New York than hang around on the back bench watching Tony Abbott dance on his grave. But Scomo thought he knew best. He didn't think it was necessary to consult the vastly experienced Julie Bishop, Turnbull, or the boffins in DFAT before making his disastrous call on the Israeli embassy.
And it turned to custard. Now he has had to humiliatingly turn to Turnbull to patch up the mess he has made with our Indonesian neighbours. And these are the adults?
Mike Reddy, Curtin
Voters' Abbott burden
I do so hope that the good people of Warringah, when it comes time to vote in the next federal parliamentary election, will have realised that the Liberal-National coalition's fate has already been set in stone, and that regardless of the outcome in their own electorate a prolonged stint in opposition lies ahead.
Those who have grudgingly given Tony Abbott their vote in the past need not burden themselves yet again with what must have been a gut-wrenching state of conflictedness.
A vote for the party rather than the politician when a single seat could deliver government either way was indeed a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, and having free rein to let Mr Abbott know what they actually think of him will be truly liberating.
Moreover, voters in Warringah who do appreciate Tony Abbott's unique brand of self-serving hypocrisy and wilful ignorance but are keen for as brief an exile as possible for the LNP should reflect upon the fact that the majority of Australians find Mr Abbott's presence in the public sphere quite loathsome.
His musings on everything from science to women's reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, and his regular interventions in the international affairs of other nations are offensive to many, and his retaining his seat would make it that much more difficult for the LNP to regain ascendancy.
For the good of the party perhaps it might be better to bring about his swift demise.
James Allan, Narrabundah
Dust storm dangers
I found the report of the dust storm in western NSW ("Cloudy with a chance of Armageddon", November 8, p2 and p3) both amazing and frightening.
The storm was amazing because it plunged the area beneath it into darkness and was powerful enough to whip up stones big enough to damage a car windscreen so much that it had to be replaced.
The reported dust storm was frightening because it may well be a taste of things to come with the effects of climate change becoming increasingly evident.
These effects include a greater likelihood of the occurrence of drought and dust storms.
Furthermore, dust storms like the one reported can only be made more likely, more severe, and darker by the sort of large-scale tree clearing that is being shown the green light in NSW by the Berejiklian government ("Ten million native animals lost each year in NSW to tree clearing: report", November 8, p2 and p3).
Native animals such as the koala are not the only assets that we may lose as a result of climate change coupled with tree clearing.
Parts of the country may also lose much of their topsoil.
Douglas Mackenzie, Deakin
Trump still in front
Round two to Trump. Democrats need to lift their game.
M. Moore, Bonython
Hope for the children
Having learnt that it is expected that all children (and their families?) will be removed from Nauru by the end of this year, I wonder what criteria will be used to determine who is a child and therefore eligible under this plan.
Will children who were 11 and 12 years old when sent to Nauru and who have now reached the ages of 15 or 16 years, still be deemed children?
And what about their "families"? From reports when the boats arrived, some children were accompanied by friends or cousins/aunts/uncles/grandparents.
In many circumstances in Australia, such relatives are regarded as too distant to be called "family".
I hope that any young people (and their families) left on Nauru and not allowed into Australia will be eligible to settle in New Zealand or another hospitable country.
R. Richards, Cook
Your recent reporting on Centrelink customer satisfaction ("Govt says secret report shows contractors answer more Centrelink calls", canberratimes.com.au, October 30) does not mention our surveys returned 75.2 per cent overall satisfaction with people's most recent interaction in 2017-18.
Our surveys also show improvement against our service commitments.
For Centrelink services people say: staff treat them with respect (92.3 per cent); take into account their individual circumstances (80.8 per cent); receive accurate information (83.6 per cent), give them information that is clear and easy to understand (85.1 per cent) and are prompt and efficient (82.2 per cent).
We also know around 83.5 per cent of people who ring us are getting first-contact resolution.
It should also be noted Centrelink complaints to the Commonwealth Ombudsman decreased by 9 per cent in 2017-18, with the Ombudsman's annual report acknowledging steps to improve customer experience.
We're also pleased the Australian National Audit Office found we have fully effective quality control arrangements in our service delivery areas.
We accept the auditor's conclusion the quality framework in its current form is well-designed but may not be the best fit for some parts of the department.
We're now reviewing our quality processes to see if any changes are required to make them more flexible and fit-for-purpose for some of our non-service delivery areas.
Hank Jongen, Department of Human Services
Lots of questions
While it is encouraging that the government has allowed some of the children and their families on Nauru to come to Australia for life-saving medical treatment, there are a lot of unanswered questions.
Does the government include grandparents, aunts, uncles or adult children as part of a child's family?
Will the children and their families be returned to Nauru once they have received treatment?
What will be the psychological impact on the asylum seekers who will be left on Nauru?
And why is the government ignoring the hundreds of men still trapped on Manus Island?
The government has also said that it will allow some asylum seekers to resettle in New Zealand provided that they never set foot in Australia. Again, there a lot of questions.
What will happen should one of the asylum seekers in future be elected as a member of the New Zealand Parliament or even Prime Minister?
What will happen if an asylum seeker is selected in the New Zealand cricket, football or netball teams or in New Zealand's A-League or NRL teams?
Will the government deny an asylum seeker entry to Australia to attend a wedding or funeral? How will the government implement such an impractical proposal without New Zealand's agreement?
The government's belated pretence at compassion is a desperate attempt to keep the asylum seeker issue off the agenda until after the next election.
Charles Body, Kaleen
Australia's high commissioner in London George Brandis responded to questioning about Australia's treatment of refugees, in particular the children on Nauru, by stating that "There are hardly any children in Nauru and in New Guinea and we expect that by the end of this year there'll be none". He believes that "this is a problem that's largely gone away".
In an address on International Human Rights Day in December 2014, then attorney-general George Brandis assured us that "all of the children in detention will have been released by the early months of next year". Since then, the children on Nauru have suffered another four years, their conditions deteriorated to now being life-threatening. They can't wait any more.
The problem has not gone away, though the government is trying to make us believe so. The medical emergency exists now. All refugees and asylum seekers need to be evacuated from Manus and Nauru and brought to safety in Australia now.
Eileen O'Brien, Kambah
Let's pressure Pakistan
Since the Pakistan Supreme Court has found Asia Bibi innocent of the charge of "blasphemy" (after eight years on death row) now not only is her life threatened by lawless mobs, but her lawyer has had to flee the country, the Supreme Court judges themselves are threatened with death, and her entire family is at risk of being killed.
Blasphemy laws are used in Pakistan to settle grudges and persecute minorities.
Once an accusation has been made a verdict of innocence is completely disregarded by violent members of the public, and the Pakistan government, in an effort to placate them, ignores it.
International pressure is needed to end this appalling situation.
I suggest a sporting boycott.
Esther Anderson, Surrey Hills, Vic
More allegations of sexual misconduct; this time against Luke Foley.
Let's not make the woman the one who loses out this time.
N. Ellis, Belconnen
TO THE POINT
HARRY LUKE'S OPINION
Back in 1999 I had the honour of meeting Harry Luke (Bushfires in Australia / R.H. Luke, A.G. McArthur) and yes I will paraphrase Harry Luke's comments from back then, with respect to M Sirr's (Gowrie) comment (Letters, November 7) "deciduous trees are just another fire source". I am far from a fan of the current ACT RFS Chief officer's lack of respect for bush fires from the west of the ACT, however M Sirr's suggestion is far too simplistic.
P. Barling, AFSM, Holder
If people swim in the ocean they may get eaten by sharks. Humans are land animals, not fish.
A. Jackson, Middle Park, Vic
With the Republicans losing the USA Mid Term Elections to the Democrats, I'm waiting for Donald to tweet 'false news, the vote was rigged'.
Jack Wiles, Gilmore
WORSE THAN SCOMO
Whilst I acknowledge that he is struggling on some fronts, can I please ask all those Scomo knockers to consider and contemplate just four words "Prime Minister Bill Shorten".
Rod Tonkin, Scullin
SHORTEN A BIG SPENDER
If Keith Crocker (Letters, November 11) thinks Scott Morrison is pork barrelling he should wait until the election campaign to hear Bill Shorten. Now there is a professional presenter of pork barrelling.
Mark Sproat, Lyons
LEST WE FORGET
Yes (Letters, November 7) the treaty to formally end World War I was signed in 1919. But this Sunday (Armistice Day) marks one hundred years since the guns fell silent and the fighting came to an end. Lest We Forget.
S. Hurren, Macquarie
TIME FOR CHANGE
With a flush of royal commissions raising a flag, it seems the time is ripe for a decent Human Rights Declaration to be locked in. This does beg the question though, that a completely revised constitution and republic is the way to go.
Matthew Ford, Crookwell
ECHOES OF HOWARD
Trump's election strategy seems to be taken straight from John Howard's Tampa game plan. Like Howard, Trump demonised an exhausted group of would-be asylum seekers 1000 miles from America as an invading force.
R. Armstrong, Tweed Heads, NSW
TRY SHANK'S PONY
So bus route #3 will no longer travel through the ANU precinct. To judge by various letters you'd think their world has ended. Bus services exist a short distance away including the 300 series. Walk a few blocks. It will do you good.
Gerry Murphy, Braddon
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