Superannuation and politics of reform, media freedom and the Robodebt criminals

Superannuation is a boring topic of conversation at the best of times, but the government can see that it can save a substantial sum of money by closing off a loophole and has introduced a higher level of tax on superannuation accounts holding over $3 million. And the opposition can see an opportunity to claim that the Prime Minister has broken an election promise.

The Liberal Party does have this great skill in being able to magnify the small issues into large scale calamities. There have been some comparisons made with the franking credits campaign from 2019, where they made everyone believe that they were going to lose their franking credits, even for those people who didn’t own shares. But it’s hard to mount these types of scare campaigns when you’re in opposition and the Labor government should probably cut the superannuation benefits even further.

The Attorney–General Mark Dreyfus has met with news agencies and media unions to discuss national secrecy laws and improve protections and press freedoms for journalists and people working in news gathering and political reporting.

These are important issues, but it’s difficult to talk about press freedoms when Julian Assange is still languishing in a British jail – or the fact that Australia’s has the least diverse media landscape in the Western world. It would be better for the government to focus on media ownership laws and create a stronger and enforceable code of conduct for the media.

The Robodebt Royal Commission continues and the role of the former Government Services Minister, Stuart Robert, has been in the spotlight. The Minister was informed by the Secretary of Human Services that the Robodebt scheme was unlawful, which he ignored and said that he would “double down” on the scheme. Officials within the department who supported the Minister’s agenda were rewarded, and the others who provided negative advice were punished.

It’s one of the biggest scandals to hit Australian politics but, curiously, the mainstream media hasn’t had the stamina to report on this Commission.

It’s one year since Russia invaded Ukraine – it was only meant to last a few days, but it’s still going on and unlikely to stop for some time to come. War is an extension of politics by another means and this one is likely to continue until both sides are exhausted and realise there’s no point in going on.

Russia is still the big loser here and Vladimir Putin’s quest to rework European geopolitics hasn’t paid off so far. But the bigger issue is that so many people have died – up to 300,000 people on both sides – with around six million people displaced.

And, as with most wars, it’s not the political leaders who are paying the price: it’s the innocent civilians and soldiers.

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