13th February 2004
- POLITICIAN'S PENSIONS
Prime Minister John (the wimp) Howard has mooted revision of the
superannuation scheme for politicians. Instead of getting a
taxpayer funded defined benefit (set at 50% of final salary, indexed to the CPI - a
measure of inflation) pension, new federal politicians will have to survive
after retirement just like the rest of us, on an ordinary
superannuation scheme, dependent for support on market vagaries.Downward revision of parliamentary pensions was first proposed to the HOR (representatives) by Pauline Hanson
and recently revived by parliamentary opposition leader Mark
Latham. The wimps backflip shows a genius survivor's shrewd
Your diarist predicts that further initiatives will eventuate. The
wimp is currently perceived as having responded to the initiative of
others (Latham). There are three initiatives that I would suggest to him:
These three are anathema to the wimp. He has already rejected the
second two, and allowing the first would probably be considered even
less desirable. The wimp will instead probably try that old
politician's standby, which is to reduce taxes. That will not be sufficient because by now
Australians expect that anyhow, as we realize that the tax structure is
not indexed to the CPI.
- A California style Schwartzenegger Act allowing citizens to
prorogue (repeal) parliament or enact legislation, first suggested by
Foreign Minister Downer circa 1997.
- A referendum on
a directly elected President, with one option being that the president
have powers equivalent to that of the President of the USA.
- Reduction of gun controls.
Journalists are reporting that Mark Latham met a lot of party
resistance when he proposed reformation of pensions.
Although he has won, it was a pyrric victory. The pension scheme
was what kept parliamentarians toeing the party line. The first
two suggestions above will steal power from parliament. The last
is an ethical problem for the party.
I suspect that Latham will propose a new referendum on an elected (but
politically emasculated) president. Unless real powers are on the
table, the offer will be a squib.
Australia's denationalized telco, Telstra, has been losing money and market share ever since competition was permitted.
Your diarist was one of those fools who stuck with Telstra, paying
their higher rates in the vain hope that market reality would
eventually penetrate to Chairman Ziggy, and that he would reduce rates
to a competitive level.
Ziggy has instead been relying on the inertia of those like myself, and kept internet charges high.
To operate this website, I have an account with fixed IP that cost $500
to set up, and data costs 20c a megabyte to download, at a speed of
33.6 Kb/sec. (That explains why I do not have graphics and
animated giffs.). I could get a competitor's ADSL (256 Kb/s,
unlimited free Mb) with fixed IP for around $60/month, and not need an
extra phone line (cost around $30/month).
Well Ziggy, you have until September 2004. I will be leaving to
tour the USA, Europe & Japan until then. If your charges are
not down to around 1c/Mb, or free after a fixed charge, then I walk.
Since the Mid sixties, when Rupert Murdoch first introduced a national newspaper in Australia, I have been an admirer because:
It is no surprise to me that he has become head of one of the three
largest media organizations in the world. Since the other two
seem to be managed by people who are mere genius businessmen, I expect
that within a decade "News Limited" will be the leading world media
- The Australian was a bloody good paper. He hired the best,
and carried what everyone said would be a loss maker until it became
- Reports are that he has ink in his veins, and that he is a shrewd
businessman, who does not hire help to make his business decisions.
- He is a visionary, and has got to where he is after being called "Rupert the Red" in his Oxford days.