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RoboSuper OR “When Labor Run Out Of Money They Come After Yours”!

“Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.

“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.”

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

A few weeks ago I hit on a great money making scheme where I go round to people’s houses, knock on the door and tell the person that they owe me $20 bucks and if they don’t pay up when I come back I’m going to toss a brick through their window.

My wife did suggest that she thought that this might be illegal but as she’s no lawyer, I thought it best to get legal advice and, according to the advice I received it would be illegal to throw a brick through their window but, as I hadn’t actually done it there was no problem there. Of course, demanding money that they didn’t owe could be considered fraud but, as I had no evidence that they didn’t owe it, I’d have to say that it can’t be considered illegal unless they can prove that they don’t owe me the money. I didn’t ask the lawyer about the threats to their window, so I’m a little unsure as to whether that’s legal or not.

So, as you see, I have the all clear to continue.

Yes, I have been following the Robodebt Royal Commission. Not closely, mind you, but enough to notice a consistent pattern of: “No, nobody actually thought about the legality… or rather nobody was sure… and nobody was authorised to actually think… and I certainly didn’t do anything that I knew was wrong… Ah, yes, that is my handwriting suggesting we change the word there and, no, I can’t imagine why I’d want to change that completely clear statement to something ambiguous…”

And while the Robodebt testimony sounds like it’s been scripted by Joseph Heller (writer of Catch-22), I think it’s important to pause and to remember that people died. Maybe it wasn’t as high as the highest estimates, and maybe we can all just take comfort – as Alan Tudge did – by reminding ourselves that nobody can really know that it was the demand for an enormous sum of money that led to their suicide… And maybe Alan Tudge was always going to resign and that the public embarrassment he became had nothing to do with it.

Juxtaposition can be quite exquisite sometimes and I’d have to say that there’s something worthy of a satirical show like “Utopia” when the Liberals are resurrecting the slogan, “When Labor run out of money, they come after yours,” at a time that it’s been shown that Morrison, Tudge, Porter and all were actually coming after people’s money because they had, in fact, failed to deliver the promised budget surplus “in their first year and every year after.”

As a side-note, it’s always intrigued me that the party that argues that money is better in the hands of people, also argue that it’s better when the government takes more back in revenue than it gives back in services, but there you go!

So now that there are rumours that there may be some changes to the taxation benefits to people with superannuation balances of over $3 million, it’s Labor who’ve run out money and not the Liberals who doubled the debt BEFORE Covid hit and tripled it after. No, Labor have run out of money and they’re looking to raise revenue to balance the budget! Outrageous. The Liberals never worry about balancing it; they just tell us that they intend to because that’s what good housekeepers do.

Of course, their success in 2019 probably makes them think that talking about tax grabs is a great move and that we’ll all just go, “Yeah, those thieving bastards trying to take my super”, but the big difference here is that in 2019, there were a range of things that they could attack. The Coalition managed to argue that changes to negative gearing were going to lead to a crash in property prices but houses weren’t going to get cheaper for first home buyers. Franking credits were going to take away from Nanna’s meagre income from shares and she was going to lose $150,000 in franking credits thanks to Labor. And, with their insistence that we all ruin our weekends by buying an electric vehicle, Nanna would have to sell her house – at a loss – and move in with you.

While all that made a coherent, well-laid out attack on the Labor Opposition, the big difference with the rumoured superannuation changes is that once they do it, the capacity for a scare campaign is significantly dulled. Yes, reality doesn’t stop people from attempting to scare you, but most people aren’t going to be too worried about being taxed if their super hits $3 million. It’s like telling someone to rip up their lotto ticket because, if they win the record jackpot, they won’t be eligible for the aged pension or unemployment benefits if they lose their job.

Yes, a lot of people with super balances of $3 million plus will be telling you that it’s a bad thing and that the pushback will make Labor backdown, but I suspect that it won’t lead to the sort of hit in the polls that the Liberals romp home in Aston.

Speaking of Aston, I heard a clip from Roshena Campbell where she referred to independent candidates “squatting” in Liberal electorates. I suppose she realises that once a “squatter” has been in a place long enough they can claim it through adverse possession.


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  1. Andy56

    Maybe we can revist super and all its BS. Now it costs the government as much as the pension, maybe we can finally see it for what it is, an abregation of government responsibility. If pensioners were given 50% more money, and super was cut down, it could save the government $26.5BILLION dollars. A WIN WIN.
    By creating another industry and taxiing it, the government has created a monster that devours more and more money every year, yet, it fails abismally to help those on the bottom of the pile. It certainly helps those on the top, big time. Now what was super for?……….

  2. Michael Taylor

    Rossleigh, I don’t want to feed you with bad ideas, but this one might work:

    A few (or more) decades ago a bloke would roll up to the first house in the street – with brand new lights still in their packets – and offer the homeowner a new set of lights in every room for $10, and the seller would even do the job.

    Too good to ignore!

    The seller/conman would exchange the lights and put the used lights in a box.

    As soon as he’d left the house he’d put the used lights in the packets the new lights came in.

    Get the idea? He then sold them for $10 to the next house in the street, and so on.

    Did I say “bad ideas”? Nah, changed my mind. It’s a great idea. 😁

  3. paul walter

    I have seen a couple of comments turn up as to some of the detail of robosuper and it does seem that maybe they are following the same tactic of deliberately not releasing adequate information.
    If it is so and people are injured thru this perverse and persistent tactic politicians have developed of mis presenting policies; If this does the same damage as robodebt (FTA’s, surveillance also?) may all the powers of piss descend on their sly heads as they have on that motley crew of zombies who have testified at robodebt..

  4. paul walter

    On robodebt I, too have been following it a fair bit and all I can say is, no wonder neoliberal media dodged it like a bullet, filthy cowards that they are.
    The civil serpents and polis are not used to fronting minds as sharp as the robodebt lawyers and commissioner and in many cases have been sliced and diced by these for their muddled, rubbish non-answers they have offered.
    Neve so horrified as over the last few weeks and hopefully the RC is giving some an inadvertant dose of fear for their own cruelly, EQ was measured by IQ these people would be at cretin level.

  5. paul walter

    In short, be wary of boiling frogs stealth and slimy and inexorable march of neo lib ideology and feudalist practices. . We are headed for a fascist state..

  6. wam

    The LNP and conservatives are so steeped in rorting that they put those values on the unemployed. They openly talk about dole bludgers. They know of someone who makes no effort to get a job and they use that, added to the surfie groups of the 60s, as their evidence. As a consequence there is no respect for the welfare recipients. That includes the former old age pension recipients who are now on welfare. I have two senior office holders in the nationals, both are millionaires and I suspect are top of the line frankers. I have no idea how, but they qualify for the commonwealth health card and get all the benefits from it.
    Perhaps they have a catch 22 in their major major major major super fund?

  7. paul walter

    Exactly. It is a nasty pathology and it is much the same pathology that has infected, at least nascently that infected the goons of the dictatorships last century.

    The modern day Bible Belt in the USA is another location that comes to mind.

    If it takes over, we will be remembered as walking unsuspecting through a kind of Weimar Republic phase prior to the main event.

  8. Ian Hughes

    An important lesson from the RoCo: always keep your legal advice in “draft” form, especially if it’s not to your liking. Provides a lovely escape route.

    I’m not a lawyer but I think the official legal terminology is “Clayton’s Advice”. You know, the advice you have when you’re not…….

  9. Kaye Lee

    Joe Hockey 2015: “We should be wiser and more consistent on tax concessions,” the former treasurer told Parliament in his farewell speech. “In particular, tax concessions on superannuation should be carefully pared back.”

  10. Senna

    The ‘Robo’ debacle, or should that be ‘Rob-u’ debacle, was a full on attempt to set up the parameters for the endgame iteration of AI-driven financial distribution in the economy. Unfortunate for the ‘robbers’ they got caught out, but in the words of Ned Kelly, ‘that’s life’.
    The endgame iteration is the Central Bank Digital Currency ‘control system’. Removing the intermediary commercial banking system allows the public to be financially monitored and controlled by one central entity. Anonymity will be gone. Your freedoms, the freedom to buy and sell and move and express your opinion, will be conditional upon the blockchain or permissions set by the central ‘bank’.
    Politicians must view themselves as being in the drivers seat of this change and not to be adversely affected by the change. Optimism over-ruling clear eyed analysis is bound to lead to a fall.
    I caught a few minutes of the ABC business news yesterday, an interview with the Mayor of the City London (one of 3 corporations not subject to national authority, the other 2 being Washington DC & the Vatican ). His group is eyeing Aus Super Funds with the intent of using those funds to suit his backers agenda. What could possibly go wrong? Murdoch press, deep in the pockets of these woke financial charlatans, will push the idea and Albanese will nod in agreement, because that is what Albanese does when confronted with media demands, he caves.
    It’s good to see the enquiry but RoboDebt is just the first attempt. They will try again, you know, for your safety.

  11. Terence Mills

    Ahhh ! Joe Hockey, the great reformer who didn’t actually do anything while Treasurer but had lots of advice for his successors (none of which was taken up) :

    ………..negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on existing property.

    Joe Hockey October 2015 – prior to taking up position of squatter in Washington

  12. Ted

    Robo-Debt or Robo-Super or Rob-U-People? It was a setup from the get go. Joke Hockey – who can forget those halcyon days? Another graduate from the WEFs Young Leaders program who stands with co-graduates Peter Costello & Greg Hunt as architects of social inequality. However, like some other retiring MPs, Joe showed humility and spoke up for a fairer system as he exited.
    Aust is a Una Party system driven to legislate in accordance to what best suits the wealthiest. We claim to be a democracy but it’s only a democracy shared by a select few politicians and their donors who tend to ignore the public when it suits.

  13. Kaye Lee

    And then we have Scott Morrison introducing his Superannuation (Objective) Bill 2016 in response to recommendations from the Financial Services Inquiry where he said:

    “It will promote confidence in the superannuation system—that it is being used for its core purpose of providing income in retirement and not for tax minimisation or estate planning purposes or any further such initiatives. During consultation with stakeholders, there was a general agreement that the objective of super is to provide for retirement income, rather than unlimited wealth accumulation or bequests. ….
    I encourage passage of the legislation so that it can be used to assess future amendments to superannuation by governments of any persuasion.”;query=Id%3A%22chamber%2Fhansardr%2Fe089c8c3-75b7-4858-80ac-58b4e4c6e749%2F0157%22

  14. Michael Taylor

    Tell me again, Mr Morrison, whose party opposed a 3% increase to compulsory super when Labor was previously in power.

  15. Diane

    “argue that it’s better when the government takes more back in revenue than it gives back in services”

    One of the things that always bemused me when they were gloating about “Back in Black” – bit like the “Emergency Fund” that they didn’t want to use, even in the face of numerous catastrophic emergencies!

    “No, no, let’s sit on this pile of money rather than using any of it to help those plebs”!

  16. totaram

    MT: Add to that, the fact that they already capped super under Turdball. I am amazed that no one brings this up. Clearly people haven’t been paying attention to their supers. Without “ANY mandate”, and in spite of all the broken promises from Abbort, the “transfer balance cap” was brought in by the Turdball government in 2017. This threw all the plans of myself and spouse into disarray. We had to pivot around etc. in order to compensate. We could manage to do this since, even in our seventies, we are both still employed. I haven’t heard the screams of complaint form the usual Coalition voters who must have been disadvantaged by this change, because only they would have had so much in their supers that they were affected. But they put up with it, since it was “their lot” that did it. Contrast with supposed “Labor supporters” who screamed blue murder against Shorten’s proposed changes to franking credits, even when these would have made almost no change to the retirement earnings of said “Labor supporters”. No one could be bothered doing the actual numbers to figure things out. Or they could have talked to their Super Funds and found out for sure. They were happy to swallow the hype put out by the usual coalition mouthpieces in the MSM. And the rubbish put out by our freedom boy Wilson and his acolytes and co-conspirators. Sad. Very Sad.

  17. andy56

    Totaram, retirement has been turned into the biggest fear campaign ever. We are constantly in fear mode, have we got enough, do we need more, which investment strategy will work for me and how many houses at inflated prices do i need to buy? Seriously its put the onus squarely on us to become greedy capitalists. Its an insidious ideology that’s been pounded into our brains. Just imagine if the pension was 50% higher, fear of retirement would dissipate, we would spend more of our money when younger, oiling the wheels of capitalism and maybe house prices would have been fucking lower. Thats the problem with ideology driven policies. They dont fix the reason for the policy, they create unimagined cross-purposes. Its simple, instead of scaring people about retirement poverty, provide a proper retirement income. No need for new industries and no need for another $53b in tax losses. Its called a pension and fund it as it should have been from the start. Efficiency of scale , pure and simple, means more money available for the pension and less squandered on another spong industry.

  18. Karlo

    I attended an economics forum at Newcastle university some years ago, There was a guest speaker from ‘The Age’ newspaper and he said something that has always stayed with me. He called superannuation “the privatisation of pensions”.

  19. Fred

    Smirko must have been training his cohorts.Check out Tudge at the RC at (which should skip to 2:11:49 then click on skip ads) just as his testimony is wrapping up. He almost didn’t contain the smirk while arguing with the Commissioner.

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