Super needs massive changes

The Productivity Commission released a report this week basically saying that super was stuffed for most Aussies. It says some funds continuously underperform, and a lot of workers have accidentally ended up with multiple accounts. 


Are you one of the thousands of Aussies who tend to zone out when someone starts talking about super? Here’s the basics:

  • Superannuation is  basically a fund set aside in your name. If you’re an employee in Australia it’s compulsory that you have one. Chances are your employer(s) set you up with one when you were first hired.
  • Every time you get paid, an amount goes towards tax, and another amount goes towards super. The super amount is locked away until your retirement age. When you retire: yippee, you get your super. The theory is that that amount should hopefully keep you afloat until you die, saving the government a whole lot of money in welfare trying to take care of your senior citizen self.
  • You have the power to choose your super fund, but many people don’t bother. Super funds are basically just investment funds. You’re effectively paying a superannuation agent to hold onto your funds and invest them for you in a whole range of stocks. Most agencies will give you the option to invest in a high risk, high reward portfolio, or a more stable but lower return portfolio. But again, most don’t bother. Most also don’t worry about looking at what fees the agencies are taking off the top of their super.

If you’re clueless about super, or just want a really thorough and simple guide to choosing a fund that’s right for you, I can’t recommend The Barefoot Investor enough.


 

The report found that there’s ten million unintended multiple accounts out there – that’s about a third of all of them. It’s costing people around $2.6 billion in unintended fees. The Productivity Commission is recommending a system whereby you’d only be put into a default account once, on your first job. Plus, the Commission wants to make it rarer that you’d be lumped with a default fund, instead being given a list of ten to choose from.

Bugger off Barnaby

Barnaby’s in a right state. Again. Believe it or not he’s still an active politician. The whole scandal with his new partner forced him to step down from his leadership position, but he’s still still in Parliament. But he’s now taking extended leave after it was revealed he accepted cash to conduct an interview with his partner, despite pleading for privacy from the media.  Barnaby also has an autobiography coming out in August. Some of Barnaby’s Liberal colleagues, like Minister Kelly O’Dwyer, have criticised his actions. The federal opposition is noticeably silent. The Age reckons it’s out of concern for Barnaby’s personal welfare. In fact, Labor immediately agreed to ‘a pair’ – removing own of the own politicians from votes to even out the numbers while Barnaby’s away.

Face matching tech

Over the last few months, the government’s been getting awfully excited about facial matching technology that it says could help with low-level crimes. It would mean facial data being shared across multiple agencies. In October, the states agreed to sharing the data in principle. But this week, the Human Rights Law Centre joined a chorus of growing concern, previously voiced by the state government of Victoria and the Law Council of Australia. They reckon the system risks racial bias, and the current proposed regulations aren’t nearly sufficient to properly regulate the uses of the technology. Their warnings are part of a submission to a parliamentary committee inquiry which is currently looking at the government’s proposal.

Russian Journalist Fakes own murder

It’s a cross between an episode of The Simpsons and a James Bond film. Arkady Babchenko, a Russian journalist, faked his own death this week in an effort to thwart an assassination attempt. Apparently under attack from Moscow, Babchenko worked with Ukraine to fabricate a story. He even lied to his wife about his ‘death’, disappearing off the map for 24 hours while the world’s media told everyone he’d been shot and killed. Babchenko works for a liberal newspaper. Six of his colleagues have been killed for real. Allegedly, the Russian secret service had hired a ‘middle man’ to take out Babchenko. The middle men were arrested when Babchenko turned up ‘dead’. 

The whole episode has garnered a mixture of acclaim and disgust around the world. In the era of ‘fake news’, Ukraine has done little to give their military services credibility.

Korea & US Latest

Late last week, after days of teasing, Trump pulled out of the planned negotiations with North Korea, citing the North’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in recent public statements as the specific reason for canceling. 

But since then speculation has been rife about the talks re-commencing. Players on both sides are trying to save the talks, and there’s a whole bunch of high-level meetings going on to try and pull it all together. It may yet happen. 

The summit was originally planned for the 12th of June. 

Kashmir Peace?

Their is optimism for the first time in years on the Kashmir Border between India and Pakistan, where a cease fire has been called. Weekly shelling has been a part of life for many months now, and tens of thousands have been displaced by violence.

Ireland and Abortion

In a landslide result, Ireland held a nation-wide vote on abortion reform and opted in favour of changing the current law. We did a deep dive into the current state of abortion laws in Australia earlier in the week. 


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Photo at the top thanks to Guardian Media Services.

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