Gillard’s porkies to schoolgirls

by on 8 June, 2013

A. Essery

Allan Essery exposes a pack of fibs told by the Prime Minister to an assembly of Queensland schoolgirls. GC.Ed.@L.

On the 9th of May this year the Prime Minister, Julie Gillard, visited the St John Forest College for young ladies at Braken Ridge in Queensland.  During that visit she addressed students and took questions.  A 14 year old student asked the Prime Minister when she intended to meet with the Alliance of Defence Service Organisations to discuss defence superannuation as she had promised two months earlier.

Prime Minister:  ''We, aah, we have a system of pensions for former defence force personnel and they are pensions that are more generous, as they well should be, so those pensions are very generous. For me I think it is very important to continue the generous pensions system, you know, when I say generous I mean in comparison to the old age pension. I don't want to suggest, you know, compared to lots of in the work force it's generous, it's an amount, you know, in excess of the old age pension so I want to see us having a really good system to, aah, support our retired personnel.''

Rebuttal: Defence superannuation is a defined benefit for a superannuation scheme as opposed to a welfare scheme which the old age pension is.

How generous is defence superannuation?  Well firstly, 90 per cent of those 57,000 odd ex-service personnel eligible for the Defence Forces Retirement Benefit Scheme superannuation get less than $30,000 per year.   The couple rate for the aged pension is $31,000 plus.  So we see that the Prime Minister's claim that it is so much more generous than the old aged pension falls apart at the first test. Porkie number one.

Prime Minister: ''There has been a debate about what the indexation of pensions should be. Aah, it is different from the indexation for the aged pension but, the aged pension is of a far lower value in its, aah, broad entitlement whereas, aah, the pensions and benefits are at the far higher value.''

Rebuttal: Apart from being a classic example of Polliespeak, the Prime Minister fails to mention that the government in 1975 agreed to apply the same method of indexation to defence superannuation, commonwealth public service superannuation, and the aged pension to guarantee that the purchasing power of each scheme would be retained.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that defence and public service superannuation was and still is a workers entitlement, just like all other workers while the aged pension is a welfare benefit.

In 1997 the government bumped the aged pension from 25 per cent of the average wage to 27.5 per cent.  The only problem was that they forgot the defence and Commonwealth Public Service superannuants who were left out in the cold because the government claimed that defence and public service personnel were getting too much.

The result of this was that 90 per cent of defence and Commonwealth Public Service superannuants have lost 40 per cent over the almost 20 years in comparison to the average wage.  Porkie number 2 – a fib by omission.

Prime Minister: ''OK, I do understand that that debate will continue, aah, and I think in that debate it's important we get the comparisons right and we also get the costings right. Some of the proposals will change after comparisons that will cost, you know, billions and billions of dollars and people need to think about where in the government funding those and where they think it should be put.''

Rebuttal: Billions and billions of dollars????  Absolute rubbish, and an outright untruth.

On the 21st October last, Finance Minister Penny Wong wrote to the National President of the Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association and also to David Jamison, the National President of the Defence Welfare Association admitting that across the board estimates to correct the indexation of defence and public service superannuation would cost only $322 million before clawback.  Clawback?  The government would take back a sizeable chunk of the $322m because defence and public service personnel must pay tax on their superannuation regardless of age. Porkie number 3.

Also, the Prime Minister failed to mention that there is a futures fund currently holding $75b that is supposed to take care of defence, commonwealth public service, and welfare pensions from 2020.  Porkie 4 – a fib by omission

It is bad enough that the Prime Minister tells untruths to adults, but when she applies the same toward schoolgirls her conduct shifts beyond the pale.

Alan is an ex-RAAF officer retired from active duty. He was a flight instructor and charter pilot. He also writes on matters political and is a staunch battler for ex-service superannuants. He is also rumoured to be a savvy fossicker for the yellow stuff.

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