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Jeor

Aussies: NSW Politicians, keeping ICAC in business

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The story about superannuation fraud this week jogged my memory about something I'd wanted to say about the ScoMo/Frydenberg economic response: granting early access to super due to CV-19 is some seriously dumb policy. 

Reasons why this is stupid:

  1. Superannuation is there to provide for a steady retirement income (likely supplemented by the aged pension or similar). Raiding it now simply defers today's financial pain to the future (but magnified because of the lost tax-advantaged investment income). 
  2. We have a federal social safety net for a reason. If people need greater assistance, then the right policy choice is to strengthen that system.
  3. We should not be getting people used to the idea that superannuation is part of one's accessible wealth. It gives an over-inflated view of the personal balance sheet and potentially skews financial decision making (Australians already save too little of their income).
  4. We do not want to set a precedent for making it OK to tinker with core superannuation policy. Future populist governments could have a field day with this.
  5. Increased opportunities for fraud. 

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Agreed with all that Pax. And I say that as someone that has utilised early access to super for a non emergency situation - I was very glad I was able to do that, but it's not how we should be getting through this.

@Impmk2 not sure which uni you're at, but the big news out of Adelaide yesterday looked interesting. If you know what's going on then obviously you need to keep that confidential, but if you don't know and only have gossip then I'm interested lol. I've had a former colleague go through the ICAC rodeo and in that case I see quite happy to see him get caught.

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Yes, I think you're right @Paxter. One of the worries that I have with superannuation is that the government cannot resist tinkering with it - whether it's early access, taxed contributions, etc. I once asked my dad, who is an accountant, whether I should be making voluntary contributions to super for the tax benefit (as a single person with no dependents now would be the time to do it). He said not to do it - better to trust myself with saving and investing the money, because in 30-40 years' time there's no telling what the government will have done with it.

I don't know what the situation is with Jobkeeper, but it seems like they don't need that to go on for 6 months now (at least in some industries). I wonder if there is some thought to phasing out Jobkeeper earlier, to save on the budget. Obviously not phasing it out altogether as a whole, some sectors will need that support for a while (especially non-profits) but I wonder if there is some ability to start ratcheting it back.

I too read about the University of Adelaide shenanigans with interest. I wonder what's going on there! They said no financial impropriety, that it was "potential misconduct or maladministration". Which could be anything, really.

 

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I also agree with Pax and would add the fact that most of the areas we are seeing massive job losses are characterized by a low paid and often precarious workforce.

Raiding your super is a bad idea for anyone but seems like it is an even worse idea when you already have less than you should.

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39 minutes ago, karaddin said:

 

@Impmk2 not sure which uni you're at, but the big news out of Adelaide yesterday looked interesting. If you know what's going on then obviously you need to keep that confidential, but if you don't know and only have gossip then I'm interested lol. I've had a former colleague go through the ICAC rodeo and in that case I see quite happy to see him get caught.

I'm not at Adelaide Uni anymore, but I did work there up until a couple years ago. Peter Rathjen (the VC) was a lecturer / researcher in biochemistry in the 80s and 90s, so a few of my colleagues who were around then know him quite well. They're all a bit floored by the news, but haven't heard anything beyond the media reports (or aren't willing to say).

The rumor I was hearing this morning were that it was something to do with the cost cutting measures he'd been imposing, and the deputy VC was also involved. There's another rumour which I'm not willing to put on a public forum, I'll PM.

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So mid-last week I got an email from Adelaide uni saying they were backpaying some super that was miscalculated from annual leave loading payments. All of approx $200. Another ex-Adelaide uni employee who I work with let me know he also got some paid into his super too.

Timing seems a little suspicious, so my new (completely speculative and probably wrong) theory is they were caught trying to avoid paying the super they owed.

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50 minutes ago, Impmk2 said:

So mid-last week I got an email from Adelaide uni saying they were backpaying some super that was miscalculated from annual leave loading payments. All of approx $200. Another ex-Adelaide uni employee who I work with let me know he also got some paid into his super too.

Timing seems a little suspicious, so my new (completely speculative and probably wrong) theory is they were caught trying to avoid paying the super they owed.

Interesting! But didn't the acting VC say that there was no financial impropriety involved? Maybe he meant it in a narrow sense (i.e. embezzlement).

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1 hour ago, Jeor said:

Interesting! But didn't the acting VC say that there was no financial impropriety involved? Maybe he meant it in a narrow sense (i.e. embezzlement).

Looking at the quote it sounds like it might rule it out? I'd forgotten about that one. He said it was in no way related to the financial health of the university & covid.

I was more thinking about the ICAC which said it was related to maladministration and not corruption. But not having a legal background I'm not sure how those are defined.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Impmk2 said:

I was more thinking about the ICAC which said it was related to maladministration and not corruption. But not having a legal background I'm not sure how those are defined.

I don't have a legal background either, but in my layman's book I'm guessing corruption = doing dodgy things intended for gain/benefit, whereas maladministration might just refer to poor management practices.

University politics being what they are, I'm sure in due course we'll get a full rundown...my guess is with "misconduct" and "maladministration" being bandied around, maybe it was some sort of employee relationship thing.

Edited by Jeor

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Most of the common scenarios for an inappropriate relationship wouldn't wind up at ICAC though, so if it were that it would need to connect in with something more. Which it very well may.

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Yeah, my thought was that kind of misconduct would either end up as an internal university thing, or (at the more serious end of the scale) a police matter, rather than ICAC. But I have no idea how these things work :dunno:

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The issue that I've seen with ICAC was much more clear cut corruption - the manager of the team adjacent to mine was hiring contractors from his wifes contracting company and siphoning out a significant slice of cash.

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10 hours ago, karaddin said:

Most of the common scenarios for an inappropriate relationship wouldn't wind up at ICAC though, so if it were that it would need to connect in with something more. Which it very well may.

Hmmm, true. I guess I went for "employee relationship" because sadly that tends to be a pretty high frequency thing when some sort of scandal is involved. It's hard to think of how "maladministration" wouldn't refer to anything financial. I guess it'll remain an intriguing mystery until the story breaks!

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In a great piece of news to start the day to, Alan Jones is retiring. I know they'll quickly find someone who can keep on with his particular brand of toxic schlock, but still, good riddance!

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9 hours ago, Impmk2 said:

In a great piece of news to start the day to, Alan Jones is retiring. I know they'll quickly find someone who can keep on with his particular brand of toxic schlock, but still, good riddance!

Unfortunately there will always be someone to fly that flag, but at least they won't be as "influential" as Jones. It'll be interesting to see if 2GB tries to retain his (ageing) audience by appointing a clone, or whether they'll go in another direction.

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So long as Australia is a nation at least partially made up of racists, drongos and boofheads...there will always be room on our airwaves for an Alan Jones.

 

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So latest in the Adelaide Uni ICAC rumour mill: I've heard from a number of sources Rathjen (the VC) was romantically involved with a senior female staff member. Thoughts are it may be some sort of conflict of interest stemming from this.

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23 hours ago, Impmk2 said:

So latest in the Adelaide Uni ICAC rumour mill: I've heard from a number of sources Rathjen (the VC) was romantically involved with a senior female staff member. Thoughts are it may be some sort of conflict of interest stemming from this.

My guess of "employee relationship thing" might turn out to be correct after all! If it is the case, that might explain why the Chancellor left as well...perhaps the university botched the initial internal investigation.

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3 hours ago, brook said:

This is the sort of obscene grift only the Catholic church could pull off.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-17/catholic-church-asks-priests-getting-jobkeeper-to-donate-back/12359600

My grandfather, a very lapsed Catholic, always told the story of when his mother (a struggling widow) was excited to win first prize in the weekly church raffle. That was until the priest came by to demand that she donate the prize back to the church for the next raffle.  He met his match in my great-grandmother though and they had to find a new prize. Apparently, things haven't changed.

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