miwahni (miwahni) wrote,

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Fairness needs to be more than just words on a paper

It's almost state conference time for the Labor Party which has just released its draft policy platform for comment. At the front of the document there is a list of the party's enduring values, and this one made me come over all goosebumpy:

"1.4: We will always stand up for fairness. Our party was founded on the important principle that everybody deserves a fair go in life.
We believe that a society's quality can be measured by how it treats its' most vulnerable people and that government has an important role to play in creating a more equal society, in which people are treated with respect and compassion. We believe in government that aims to lift people up to achieve the very best that they can, that appeals to the best characteristics of human kind."

That resonates so strongly with me. Would be lovely to see Labor re-elected and given another chance to live up to its own ideals.

On the subject of vulnerable people and fairness, there was a letter to the financial advisor in the AFR on the weekend, in which the author asked for advice around his self managed superannuation pension account; he was concerned that if he took funds out of it, (to comply with anticipated changes to the rules that state that balances over $1,600,000 will have to pay tax on their earnings) he'd lose the "grandfathered" arrangement by which his tax-free super pension wasn't treated as income under the means test for the health care card. This health care card is given to people on very low incomes, to allow them to purchase prescription medicines very cheaply (currently $5 per prescription). Anyone setting up a pension after January 2015 would have their tax-free pension included in the means test, but if you set it up before then, you could keep the card provided you made no changes to your pension account.

So here's this guy with over $1.6m in his pension fund, worried that he'd have to pay full price for prescription medicines in future. I was just gobsmacked. Yes, that pension account has to last him for the rest of his life, and maintain his standard of living. Yes, he may find it running low in his later years. And yes, just the earnings on his pension account would be more than my current income, on which I pay tax - and he doesn't, and won't have to, if he keeps the balance at or below $1.6m. I'm sure he's worked very hard for his money, and gone without things etc etc etc - none of which makes him entitled to cheap medicine. That system was designed as a safety net for people of limited means, not as an entitlement for self funded retirees. It just makes me so mad to see that; I'm glad the system was changed last year.
Tags: politics

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