LETTERS News Weekly
, August 4, 2012
Superannuation funds I
I write with regard to Jeffry Babb’s article, “Labor super rort could bankrupt retirees” (News Weekly, July 7).
In particular, I take issue with the comments made with regard to the need for independent directors, reporting standards and governance.
I have served on the board of two industry superannuation funds for more than 10 years, firstly Australian Retirement Fund (ARF) and subsequently AustralianSuper, as a director nominated by an employer group.
It is my considered opinion that directors nominated by employer groups are in fact independent directors. They come from many different companies in which they serve as directors or chairmen and bring to the board a plethora of experience.
The article also suggests that super fund reporting standards are poor and governance is opaque. This is not my experience.
I am rather inclined to believe that the article is more in the interest of retail funds and their shareholders than the public at large.
Dr Walter W.J. Uhlenbruch AO,
Superannuation funds II
Martin O’Connell (“Industry superannuation defended”, Letters, News Weekly, July 21) appears to misunderstand the nature of my critique of union superannuation funds.
Union superannuation funds are governed by union and employer representatives. Superannuation funds are not intended to benefit unions or employers, but the members of the funds. Most of the fund members are not union members — only 18 percent of workers are union members.
Therefore, as in other enterprises such as banks and insurance companies, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has recommended that one third of the boards overseeing these funds should be independent trustees, whose role is to act in the interests of the vast majority of fund members who are neither unionists nor employers.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Trio Capital and Storm Financial, there will always be people who are gullible, greedy or just plain unlucky. However, to put these two calamities in context, comparing them to the major banks and life offices is like comparing a hotdog stand to Coles or Woolworths. They were both unsound from the start.
The only criteria for investing superannuation funds should be first, security, and second, rate of return. Whatever Mr O’Connell would have us believe, these are very different things. Whether they are industry funds or private funds is irrelevant. What is important is the role of the funds as custodians of their members’ savings.
Australia at war
James Bowen’s letter, “Australia’s perilous situation in 1942” (News Weekly, July 7), is ill-informed.
First, when the Japanese carrier strike force entered the Indian Ocean early in 1942, they were met by British aircraft and lost about 50 aircraft and pilots. This weakened them, perhaps decisively, for the Battle of Midway, which from this perspective can be regarded as an Anglo-American victory. West Australians, in particular, have reason to be grateful for the British presence in the Indian Ocean.
Second, by 1942 nearly all of the Australian Navy was in home or Indo-Pacific waters. The contrary is a myth promulgated by Anglophobes such as John Pilger.
Third, the Americans were able to send a powerful fleet to the Pacific only because the British and Canadians were taking the strain in the Atlantic. Apart from this, a large part of the Japanese army was tied up by British forces in Burma.
Forth, thanks to the heroic struggles of the first Menzies Government in 1939-41, in the face of innumerable ALP and communist-led strikes and instances of sabotage, Australia by 1942 was quite well-prepared for home defence, allowing for the fact that any Japanese invasion attempt would have been at the end of extremely long lines of communication, which is why the Japanese never tried to invade. (If things had gone differently, they might have carried out major raids or attempted to occupy northern ports or airfields).
Fifth, the policy of “beat Germany first” was obviously correct. Germany was the most dangerous enemy. To have diverted forces from the decisive theatre in Europe to Australia, where they were not needed anyway, would have been ludicrous.
Dr Hal G.P. Colebatch,
Angela Schumann’s article, “China’s demographic time bomb” (News Weekly, June 9), makes many good points, including about China’s low fertility rate and disproportionately male population.
These two points may have separate origins, but with the demographic time bomb ticking they become compounding.
If we accept the definition of replacement fertility rate as the fertility rate at which women have just enough female babies to replace themselves, we can then factor in the disproportionate number of males being born (currently 1.13 male births per female birth in China, compared with a typical figure of around 1.05 in the developed world) to arrive at China’s real replacement fertility rate.
My reckoning makes this adjustment around 4 per cent — i.e., to sustain population with China’s disproportionately male birth ratio requires a fertility rate approximately 4 per cent higher than that required in a population where the male/female birth ratio is around the natural figure of 1.05.
Whichever way we look at it, China’s demography presents a bleak picture indeed.
Mount Waverley, Vic.