Letters: Your Say On Super

Responses to the Eureka Report call for letters on potential superannuation reform.

My wife and I have a SMSF and have been saving for retirement for the last 20 years. I am 65 and my wife is 54. My wife is still working and we are on short-term assignment in Singapore.

Our aim has been to provide for our retirement with a comfortable and secure income. We are very aware of the need to provide for ourselves, without relying on Government and being able to self-finance medical & nursing home services, if required in old age.

We have suffered significant losses through the GFC, like most people with a SMSF. We are working hard to make up those loses through savings, cutting back expenditure and by moving out of our comfort zone (home), to seek the best paying work.

The current Government is making selective changes, to SMSFs, to tap any source of funds in order to make up for their mismanagement of the economy.

The proposed changes to superannuation are not being made across the board in a disciplined, fair and equitable manner. Short-term political objectives are destroying a superannuation system started by Paul Keating, a world leading long-term retirement plan that has had bipartisan support since introduction.

We object, in the strongest terms, to any changes that do not form part of a fair and balanced retirement strategy for all Australians.

Any changes made to SMSFs should be matched by changes to the Super Industry as a whole – nothing should be exempt from review including Parliamentary pensions, Public Service pensions including those for Judges and Military personnel.

I encourage you to campaign, with all the resources of Eureka, to stop this damaging, short-term upheaval of the long-term retirement plans of vast numbers of Australians.

B Cleary

The attack on superannuation and especially SMSF's by this government is outrageous. I am 66 and live on the income from my SMSF which I have run since 1996 and a small UK pension which is taxable in Australia.

My income in retirement would be significantly reduced by any changes to the tax staus of pension paying SMSF's and my wife, who still works and wants to retire, would presumably fall foul of any changes to the accumulation phase of the system.

Keep up the good work in defending us.

K Potts

If the Government is keen on the class tax warfare, why is nobody taking about the fact that Couples who own their own homes and assets of $1m can receive the part pension. Lets mortgage our childrens future! The Assets Test is far too generous. Wouldnt the Government want people using their own money to provide rather than tax payer Centrelink assistance? The amount of

$1,032,500 for couples and $696,250 for singles it too high. Neither party will touch this as it counts for too many votes until Australia is like a southern European country and by then its too late. Reduce the rates to

$700,000 and $550,000. The fact people also use ways of moving money to maximise the Centrelink pension because its a sense of entitlement is abhorrent.

How is it fair that someone living in country Australia with say a $350,000 home and $600,000 cash receives less than someone in a capital city with a home of say $900,000 - $1m and cash of $450,000 get more pension payments?

Again nobody will look at the Elephant in the room! If people have received Centrelink payments then these amounts should be paid back in some way from the Estate before going to the children. When the family home is sold, the Centrelink proceeds are reclaimed first and then excess distributed to children. Centrelink should be the central place for pensioners looking to access equity from their homes so they could monitor the amounts.

If people were aware that what they received from the Government would be reclaimed as best as possible there would be renewed focus on people taking an interest in providing for themselves. The Government is doing everything possible to increase the dependance furthing growing our natiuons debt.

The rules / caps for people to be able to provide for themselves are clearly not there at the moment. The long term cost will be much higher on people's reliance on Centrelink rather than an immediate tax grab.

There are many areas that Labor are looking at which all points to the Top Marginal Rate bracket. I dont have an issue with looking at lifting the tax free age from 60 to 65 or looking at amounts of the pension being tax free.

What the Government needs to do is look at everything not just one specific area and this will need to apply to both parties.

Every Generation learns form their parents. I have clients who learnt from their parents that went through two World Wars and a Great Depression. My parents one War. Now everyone has a sense of entitlement that the Government owes them everything and will gladly not work. We are now have generations of people that will never work because it far to easy.

It really is now a case of how much damage Gillard, Swan and Shorten can do between now and the next election. The answer PLENTY.

M Toal

I represent a number of investors with SMSF's. I sincrrely hope that you are able to use clout you have to influence parliamentarianss to leave SMSF alone.

Many SMSF clients have swapped to their own fund after being burnt by large organisations in 2009..

They should not be disadvantaged because their funds are performing well.

The investment fund industry is self serving in my opinion and weilds a lot of power.

I believe it would be in the interest of all SMSF's if you could influence the powers that be to leave these funds alone

Thanking you for your good work

M Champion

I am sending you a copy of a letter I have just sent to our Federal member.

Copy also went to admin@smsfmembers.com I encourage others to do the same and any part of my letter can be used!

Dear Dr Kelly

re your recent letter about schools in NSW

We feel you should not get involved in State politics ? a vote catching exercise but direct your attention to the plight of self funded retirees which is a Federal matter.

There is concern that SMSFs are again going to have more meddling and maybe taxed. We also feel it is unfair if unrealised capital gains are to be taxed.

It is difficult enough planning and living in retirement with events like the GFC without Federal Labour also attacking us.

All the constant changes also put people off putting their own money into super.

We are sorry we could not attend your recent forum in Batemans Bay on October 5.

B & G Hall

Dear Editor, Please push Treasury to accept a minimum 4% withdrawal on allocated pensions for 70 to 95 year old pensioners.The current system cannot be justified in a low growth future or as a sensible risk management principle.

I hope you will look at this concept by comparing the Australian approach to American and other countries limits on withdrawals

J Fairweather

Dear Editor, I am 31 years old and was considering entering into a SMSF this year. My current super is at about 50k (I have studied for 7 years and have also worked overseas so this is why it is low). Being a Eureka subscriber I have been very much interested in recent articles regarding the possible moves by the current government to tax super and SMSFs. I was considering salary sacrificing to make up a higher balance to run the SMSF, but maybe this is not a good idea now.

I'd still like to manage my own super, because as it has been written about recently in Eureka, I am just about fed up with watching my super deteriorate and not grow. I know I can do a better job investing it myself.

With the government hungry for a surplus and eyeing off super, I keep questioning where is the incentive for me to invest more. I have held off putting 25k of my income into super because well, if the government ends up taxing it anyway, better off having it outside of super which is locked away.

Outside of super I have properties, shares and other investments, and am disenchanted not only by the potential for the government to tax super further, but also by their short shortsightedness to kill other golden geese, i.e. booming mining investment in this country. It's all interconnected. Yes commodity prices have dropped, but reality is, I am increasingly seeing jobs for expats in South Africa and the Middle East, and decreasing in Australia.

As an engineer, with direct exposure to the mining and hydrocarbons industry, I am actively looking to move back OS for the longer term. Probably the Middle East: no super, no tax and most importantly no tax on super.

Gillard and Swan, I never voted you in. Besides my bias, from your reckless spending under Rudd to your backflipping, to your sacrificing policy for the Greens, to your destruction of a booming economy, your legacy will be remembered for years. I am hoping to leave this country for a long time so as to avoid the recession that you will be remembered for. You had the surplus, but you spent it carelessly.

Thankyou Eureka team and Alan for your great work in the Eureka Report.

A Cichello

Savings put into super mean we are not a drain on the public purse. We are funding our own retirement. We pay for own medical bills and other benefits that government pensioners get.

We are one of the few countries in the world that has a means tested pension.

Superannuation tax breaks and tax free super after 60 years is our alternative to being dependent on the state for benefits. Do not take away the incentives for us to look after ourselves in retirement.

P Walsh

I am a self-funded retiree and I am joining the Eureka subscribers in objecting to targetting superannuation for tax grab in order to help the Government fulfill the dubious political objective to end this financial year with a surplus. After the massive waste of taxpayers' funds in harebrained schemes such as NBN, BER, pink bats, cash for kids etc etc, it really hurts that the Government, to cover their own gross financial mismanagement, has the audacity to contemplate penalising us through an attack on our hard earned and saved retirement funds.

We are the generation of people who often had to fund their own education (before the Whitlam years), people who worked hard all their lives to earn decent salaries. Salaries which were taxed and taxed again to provide the cash needed for all those who were too lazy to get education or work hard for themselves and who are now drawing Government pensions.

In addition, a lot of SMFS members (who earned over $80,000 p.a., if I remember correctly) would have for many years paid surcharge tax of 30% on their super contributions, before Peter Costello reduced it to 15% in line with the rest of contributors. They have already been taxed enough .

But what angers me most of all is that some echelons of our society (such as the public service fat cats, judiciary, politicians etc), who make the calls, exlude themselves by law from limitations to and surcharges on super contributions. Why have we got one rule for us and a different rule for them? Nick Sherry is spot on to question this reality. How can we, the voters, allow them to get away with this?

With quickly reducing earnings (and thus income) from superannuation investments due to the plummeting interest rates and flat stockmarket, any further attack on income through additional taxation would take many self-funded retirees to the brink of bare subsistence means. Once we also constituted "the working families", but we never received any benefits for our children. Now we are the forgotten people. Unfortunately, as mentioned in Eureka somewhere, we are generally not Labour voters and therefore don't matter. It's time to speak up.

D Rawson-Harris

Your Letter: I think the retail investor, who, like "Spec" ,invests into small shareholdings is facing a raw deal and very tough times. The superannuation investment mediums are not exising their power toward the boards of enterrpises resuting in the very small investor not being supported at AGM's and EGM's. Further, when the companies make new issues that water down the value of the small shareholder there is little the retail investor can do to protect his invested funds other than sell, usually at a loss and move on. The omnipitent investment managers are responsible for the growing absence of the retail small investor, probably, in these times regarded as a necessary nuisance by brokers and the companies generally.

D Thackrah

Peter Costello's election masterpiece is the obvious choice for responsible tinkering with super: there is no good reason for earnings within super to be tax-free. Contrary to what most beneficiaries suggest, the sooner that the number of taxpayers is returned to a sustainable footing for the long-term, the less likely the government will be voted out.

Indeeed, for the current government, such a brave move could be easily spun as its own election masterpiece.

T Brain

My husband and i some 5 years ago started our smsf with the aim of looking after ourselves and not being a burden or relying on government welfare it seems to us that this government is hell bent on destroying all the good work done with super in the past just to make themselves look good in a grab for cash

AM

You know James, I am about to tip over from the glass half full to the glass half empty position on super. So yes, I am writing to say that I do not like the idea of making short term changes to super as part of Govt creativity to give us a budget surplus in 2012-13. And on thinking a bit about how to respond to your invitation to help us influence any debate, I find it a bit difficult to develop a case when we are not sure where the missiles are coming from.

So, at risk of having your eyes glaze over-maybe they already already have, I am going to give the long story on super as, as I see it, for you to see if we are to make any impression here. At worst, I will feel better at the end of my story and maybe tip back up into the half full position and life will go on.

Along the way here, I aim to cover off Robert Gottliebsen and Bruce Brammall's latest points as well.

Fundamentally, superannuation is a very long strategy/system so apart from some inevitable tinkering at the edges as experience is gained or unless the world has really changed; core characteristics should not be changed easily.

Core changes to contribution limits, accumulation taxes, pension taxes and investment limitations should only occur after careful consultation with the citizens and examination by specialist panels etc. So if these core areas are under current consideration then we need to scream loudly and demand that

they be left alone.  The damage that could be done here is long term through

a drop in confidence in the system by the citizens, perhaps inevitably destroying the overall idea of super. I know I am naïve, that Govt thinking is about the next election blah blah and it is difficult to have politicians take a long term view but they have to be educated at every opportunity.

But back to my long download. I am one of 4 trustees in our family smsf. We have two in mid 60s and drawing pensions and two in thirties in accumulation.

And to touch on Robert Gottliebsen points (and Brian Toohey -AFR 6-7 Oct) just a bit, the two pensioners are very happy to be drawing three Govt backed defined benefit pensions (DFRDB/CSS/PSS) between them. Little nuggets of CPI indexed gold.

I was a member of the RAAF for 24 years so I have been drawing my quaint CPI indexed pension since 1988 and age 41. But as an engineer, the top levels of the RAAF were always going to be out of reach and in any case, financially (driven by the super potential), only a chosen few went beyond the 20 years point where a 'pension' can start. The military is a young person's game in any case but the system design encouraged you to leave after 20. Despite the system, in about 1973-4, there were strong and persistent rumours that the

DFRDB system was about to be changed.  So much so that a lot of middle

managers, with their 20 years either up or imminent, simply resigned rather than hang around for the rumour to become fact (it never did). Engineers, in particular, left. Too many were consequently promoted too far too fast and, one could argue, the system, especially for new projects development and delivery, has never recovered.

A couple of thoughts now come to mind:

The powers that be, need to be very careful when making core changes to a longer term system as there are inevitably unintended consequences that emerge.

The current super system still has within it, schemes that are significantly

out of line with the mainstream. Military, judicial, public service.  It is

good to continue to highlight these inequities when putting super 'on the table' so that any unfairness is reduced.

Now turning to today's super world, I do not think that there is enough weight assigned to the significant investment risk that the citizen is now taking when forced to contribute up to 12% of his salary into super.

Commentary from the like of The Australia Institute and picked up by others including Treasury and then politicians always turns on the perceived loss of tax revenue for Government 'subsidy. But they never place any attention on the risk the citizen is being forced to take over his working life. This needs to change.

I argue that we need the 'compensation', and that we continue to allow citizens to voluntarily go beyond mandatory contributions. So we should leave the contributions limits where they are. There is a case already that that $25k may not be enough for most to have a comfortable retirement. Of course, the Government will always take a tax off the top first-this means maybe 2-3 years of investing before the citizen gets his original dollar back but the real point here is that the citizen is taking ALL of the investment risk. The superannuation industry is just in the middle taking a hefty fee along the way but always making it very clear that, at the end of the day, the risk and outcome is with the citizen.

The citizen is forgoing today's consumption (we are beyond the old days when super was something that came from employer heaven and the next 3% will come from the employee package) and as we know from recent poor investment results from most funds, there is no certainty that the final retirement package will suffice or even be better than just putting cash under the bed.

A good part of our current superannuation investment management industry can hardly be described as leading edge so rather than trying to kill off smsf ideas, we should be all working harder to make our savings more productive.

My final point here is that we actually need more emphasis towards smsfs as they help unleash aspirations in citizens to take more responsibility in their own retirement outcomes. As My Super kicks in over the next few years, we should be educating citizens more on financial aspects so that less and less of us require a Government pension at the end of the day. This Government pension becomes a proper backstop for those unfortunate enough to need it. And yes, this means a change to testing for a government pension so that the citizen cannot sink his retirement funds into a house, caravan and restaurants before lining up for his 'entitlement'.

So where was I?

A couple of points for Bruce Brammall.

I would not easily accept the thoughts that as most smsf trustees 'are considerably wealthier than the average punter...making them laregly unlikely to be Labor voters'. As with other lemmings, this smsf drifted left with Rudd and then touched Green with Julia and is now frustrated about having to vote again. And I suspect that , as usual, we are not alone in that pattern.

Further, as smsfs continue to grow and the system is allowed to mature, then more will aspire to be more in control of their financial destiny. That means more anger than you think will probably emerge if real fiddling to super occurs now. So how to make the politicians leave the core system alone?

I think super co-contribution is dead already so it should be allowed to die off now into history.

And I have already said that we should resist any immediate changes to contributions limits and the contributions tax threshold. In the event that changes are made anyhow, we should seek offsets including, re-affirmation that anti-detriment provisions remain so that taxes paid by people who do not make it to retirement can be re-funded and maybe allow commensurate increases in after tax contributions.

Well, now my download is complete so I should summarise and leave my thoughts with you James to mix in with any others that come along. Thanks for asking for an opinion.

In summary, we should always be emphasising that super is a long term idea.

I really believe that here in Australia we are creating a system with great potential for aspirational citizens to create their own retirement outcome, being willing to forego some consumption today. That means making only considered changes to the core and allowing smsfs to flourish further, with ongoing educational/regulation improvements. In doing that we need better potential to tap into the growing amount of superannuation to encourage 'national' investments using super. This means no core changes now just to meet a government short term election agenda. Damage to confidence is destabilising at best.

We should accept changes at the edge to make improvements or cut off rorts or inequities. Whilst we should not be encouraging huge wealth disparity through use of systems like super, the really wealthy will always find other ways to grow wealth. At $300,000 today, the limits are not too far out of whack and, as they have only just been introduced, then we should not be re-visiting now.

Existing accumulation taxes, in my view, should not be changed as we are not recognising enough the investment risk that the citizen is taking over many years for an uncertain outcome. This also means continuing to allow tax free incomes in the pension phase since the investment risk does not ever go way (unless you have a 'special' defined benefit pension).

There is a case for making it harder to get a Government pension and this pension should be seen more and more to be a backstop as the system matures further.

That feels better

R Kingsley

My husband and I have a SMSF which is nothing like the multi-million dollar ones the goverment talks about. We are an average hard working Australian couple that would like to be able to comfortably retire without insufficient government handouts. For years we saved and made the legal contributions but more and more we are getting the feeling that maybe superannuation in Australia is truly living up to the expectation of the people that resisted paying into super in the first place. It seems that this government is keen to destroy this country and the will of people to go out, work and be self-sufficient. Our politicians are obsessed with a surplus that we do not need.

I believe all DIY investers should form a lobby group and maybe the EUREKA network would be an ideal thing for us. I for one am sick to be told by the government how I should live, save (or as they push NO LONGER SAVE as we will shortly be struggeling to survive in a high tax, no benefits and no jobs

environment) and accept that our politicians get all the good perks and behave in a very bad manner.

I am looking forward to hearing how others think about this and what WE ALL WANT TO DO TO STOP the money grab by this incapable and demented labour government.

Kind regards

M Portier

I am horrified that the government are considering targeting our hard earned super fund to try to balance their budget.

Their problem is caused by overspending on the non-productive sector of our community & they want to keep bleeding all who have worked & saved to make Australia the lucky country - lucky we didn't rely on handouts & were proud to work! Wake up & stop buying votes in the short term! Otherwise you are going to have a lot more of us on the social service payroll in a few years.

J Waldron

Something has to be done because of the inequities between self funded retirees and other retirees. There are 10,000 funds with > $5million, 45,000 funds with between $2million to $5million. I don't know how many of these are in pension mode. I have a Comsuper pension and deceased spouse pension and some UK pension totaling $52000 p.a. My golfing partner is one of those with a SMSF of around $3million, he is drawing $150,000 tax free pension from his fund and 90% of the investments are in term deposits earning > the 5% he is drawing down. I pay tax on my income, he doesn't. I pay Medicare of $780, he pays no Medicare because his income Non-assessable, Non-Exempt (NANE). I have lost the Seniors Health Card (SHC) after holding it for the past 10 years because it hasn't been indexed in the last 11 years. He gets the SHC because he has no taxable income. He gets his prescriptions for $5.80, mine cost me $35. His Medicare safety net is lowered, mine is much higher the same as everyone that is working. He gets a Centrelink allowance for his telephone - I don't. He gets a discount on his electricity bills - I don't. He got the Household Assistance package for the Carbon tax - I didn't. For me, I have used up my tax free allowance of $18,200 so every $1 of bank interest is taxed at my marginal rate. For him he still has his tax free threshold of $18,200 so can have $364,000 outside of super earning 5% and still pay no tax, no Medicare, and get the SHC and other benefits that go to 'low income' pensioners! Without attacking some of the fundamental issues relating to Superannuation, the above inequities could easily be fixed by adding tax free pensions to the Adjusted Taxable Income (ATI) and making payment of Medicare, access to SHC to be based on the ATI. The tax free threshold should also be used up by the ATI, so that additional income earned from bank interest is now taxed at a marginal rate based on the ATI.

Someone with $5million in a pension fund should be paying Medicare, they shouldn't get the Senior's Health Card, they shouldn't get another $18,200 tax free - all these benefits are at the expense of those that have a lot less in Super.

We should in fact scrap all the tax benefits and restrictions on SUper and allow people to put as much money into super as they like and for the money in the fund to be taxed at a lower rate BUT when you retire the income from the fund is taxed like any other income.

D Roberts

I found James Kirby's article of 3 October 2012 to be quite concerning. I strongly believe that a lobby group to represent SMSFs should be established as soon as possible to protect the interests of retirees who have worked very hard to create assets that will support them in retirement so they will not be dependent on government assistance. Could you provide advice about how I and others with similar interests can effectively lobby the Federal Government.

R Addinall

James, thanks for your call to arms. If one can believe what is in the press it certainly appears that superannuation and in particular Self Managed Superannuation is under attack.

The main points I would like to note are

1 I set up a SMF after putting up with poor returns from both Industry Funds and large retail funds such as AMP and AXA. An SMF works for me I have equities bonds and cash. I know where my money is and what it is doing.

2 At the age of 58 I have seen various changes to superannuation, the ones made by the Howard Government being the most simple. These were made in particular as there was considerable unrest with respect to taxing of superannuation and the disencentive to planning ones retirement.

3 I have no intention of ever receiving an Aged Care Pension and being a burden on my country.

4 I do get concerned when I here of some of the manipulations that occur with superannuation such as individuals incurring excessive debt to be paid out by there superannuation at retirement so they can go on the pension, and the borrowing of funds within the superannuation funds for more speculative investments to name a couple.

I do support changes to stop manipulation of the system however I am very opposed to taxing contributions or income in the superannuation fund at higher levels as this will discourage saving for all.

I have written to my local labor member in Lyons however I have not received a reply.

I could say more however I need to attend business matters.

You can count on me to stand behind or in front of you on this issue.

T Forshaw

The first question to be asked about the superannuation debate is does this government really know what it is trying to achieve beyond raising more revenue? As we all know the original purpose of the current superannuation structure – the SGC and the implementation of DIY super – was to create a system to allow Australians to prepare for their own retirement and to reduce the burden on the state. In short, to encourage people to look after themselves and not to expect the state to look after them. A major side effect of these policies has been to provide a large pool of capital that is largely invested in Australia. This government seems to want to reverse these policies by continuously changing the rules but for what reason? Ignorance of the economic system and the role that the pool of superannuation plays in it? Jealousy? Obsolete class warfare? Or is it just a simple tax grab from those members of the community who will probably never vote Labor anyway? If however we are to assume that changes will be made to the superannuation system it is worth considering the least worst outcomes that will satisfy the government’s craving for tax revenue and yet preserve the best of the current superannuation system. Some suggestions might be:

1. Leave the current concessional contribution limits as they are or increase

them to the previous $25k/$50k scenario. This will limit the erosion of the growth in superannuation assets that would accompany a reduction in these limits. The more that people are encouraged to build their assets within superannuation the more self reliant they will become in retirement. While it might seem that these limits are beyond most people consider this. The median house price on the eastern seaboard is about $600k. With a typical mortgage of say $450k then mortgage re-payments are about $37k per annum.

So once the house is paid off and there are no more school fees (private schooling accounts for about 35% of secondary enrolments in Australia) then families are in a position to top up their superannuation. On this basis the current limits are actually quite modest.

2. Bring the tax rate for all superannuation contributions back to the 15%

level as it makes no sense to have increased the rate to 30% for those with incomes over $300k. I doesn’t raise much money and ignores the fact that everybody is limited by the concessional contribution limits anyway.

3. Consider the re-introduction of tax on withdrawals during a fund’s

pension phase for those over 60. This will no doubt cause a howl of anguish but the reality is that the current tax free status is difficult to justify and is probably unsustainable. What should the rate be? The current tax schedules or a reduced rate? Graduated rates or a flat rate? If this tax were to be re-introduced then the rules around minimum and maximum withdrawal rates would need to be amended with at the least the minimum withdrawal rate scrapped. Note also that this would also capture those on defined benefit schemes.

4. Review the tax breaks currently available to those on defined benefit

schemes which are unaffected by the current contribution limits despite some people – most notably the government fat cats and our political masters noted by Rob Gottliebsen – having notional contributions way in excess of the limits applied to those on defined contribution or in DIY super schemes.

Does the Eureka Report have the resources to undertake some financial modelling on this so that subscribers (and later the broad electorate) understand just how good a deal these people are on and how much this costs taxpayers?

But there is a real underlying problem in this debate. It is the assumption that expenditure must continue unchecked and that tax must be collected accordingly. Would we run our businesses in the same way that the government runs the Business of Australia? What do we do differently in business?

1. We manage our costs to suit the income and therefore the earnings that we

generate.

2. We differentiate between those expenditures that generate future income

from those that support the business on a day to day basis and more importantly those expenditures that are no longer relevant to the business.

There is a focus on capital expenditure to improve the business and expenses such as training that improve its efficiency. In government terms not only is all expenditure treated as equal but it appears that expenditure that does not contribute to growth and therefore societal wealth is prioritised. How else would we have a situation where social services and welfare account for 35% of government expenditure or expressed another way, social security and welfare accounts for 80% of all PAYG tax collected. So who is getting the best deal out of the tax system?

If the government is insistent that budget outlays remain as planned then there are other, but tougher, options for raising more tax. The obvious and so far taboo option is amending the GST. Options could included:

1. Broadening the base of the tax to include some or all of the currently

exempt items including exempt foodstuffs.

2. Increasing the rate to 12.5 or 15%. An increase of to 15% without

broadening the base would notionally raise another $25B assuming no change in spending patterns.

I hope this contribution adds to the debate.

R Rose

Dear Alan, I have been in receipt of a military pension (DFRDB scheme) since 1999; however, this amount will not meet my 'modest' retirement plans. I received the pension when I was 39 and since turning 52 this year and subscribing to your report (for the last two years) I have been more informed about the political and economic impact on investing. The latest attempt by the government to further erode my superannuation demonstrates utter contempt to all Australians. I am appalled by this approach and strongly support the Eureka Report's efforts to represent my and I have no doubt many other of your subscribers views. There are very few things in the world that I am willing to pursue, but this issue is certainly one of them. I would be encouraging the government to reconsider their intended position as the consequences of even considering this course of action would be very dire for their reputation and legitimacy.

M A Langdon

I have spent my adult life supporting political parties in Australia that have been committed to social democracy and social justice.

But I have also worked hard and taken huge financial risks, with my family, to build businesses that have employed many fellow Australians. Those risks eventually paid off and I was financially rewarded for them.

Encouraged by our political leaders, I saved and invested those rewards for my retirement, and established my own SMSF where most of my assets now reside. Those assets were brought into my super fund some years ago by bringing forward very large tax payments at the time of transfer.

If this current Labor Government decides to re-tax SMSFs and pensions, I would view it as an act of very bad faith and they would lose my support (read vote) for good on that issue alone.

Labor: be warned!

B Board

I am very concerned about possible changes to super and pension schemes. I am a member of two industry funds (SASS and Unisuper - due to inflexibility of rules of my employer fund - SASS - which did not accept voluntary contributions when these were permitted) as I do not feel competent to manage my own fund. It is very difficult to know what to do if the government changes the tax treatment of super and pension funds given that I am close to retirement and tried to contribute as much as possible in concessional and non-concessional funds as possible since the RBL was removed.

My husband is retired and all his funds are similarly in industry funds. So, our future feels uncertain despite our best efforts to be self-funded retirees.

Name withheld

Dear Alan, not so dear Robert Gottliebsen,

when I read Robert's piece in the Business Spectator of October 2 I was appalled by its one-sidedness as well as its style - "rorts", "bonanza", fat cats etc. Not a mention of the thousands of people in the public sector who had part of their TAXED salaries set aside to pay for their retirement (as part of their work contract), not just the Canberra fat cats, but all those in CSIRO, the AAEC (now ANSTO), some universities, the ABC, the ADF and several more. Retiring at age 65 after 20 years service the pension resulted in (or did) 40% of final salary AND every penny of income outside of this fully taxable (although there is now a 10% rebate of tax on the pension component). Not a fat cat in this lot!

I note that neither of you mention that those with "normal" super (DIY/SMSF) do not have their retirement income taken into account for tax purposes, so that scores of them have suddenly become part Age pensioners, with all the attached benefits, and if they have arranged their affairs wisely/cleverly, pay no tax at all - whereas public sector retirees continue to pay tax on all income AND the pension component is assessed as well. As far as indexation is concerned, governments of both shades appear to think that public sector pensioners (including the ADF at present anyway)should receive a lower rate than Age pensioners, which may well be in recognition of the fact that costs are getting out of hand. I also concede that government pensions ar not dependent on the market!

Which brings me to the bigger picture: of course things are getting out of hand, BUT not only because of Canberra's fat cats, but because of the possibility of rorts and bonanzas built into all the current systems. I have been an investor for more than 50 years, a member of ASA and reader of the Eureka Report for many years and am of the view that an honest, truly balanced review is needed to enable Australia to better cope with our longer lifespans in this weird (currently not so wonderful) world. Finally, as far as I am concerned, a Budget surplus can wait, but...

PS: I seem to recall that Kevin Rudd, when he became PM, promised to withdraw the tax free status of retirement income from super, but he did not 'deliver'.

This was before the GFC and I wonder whether, had he kept his promise, we would be in such dire straits now?

G Fisher

Suggest a threatening letter to the government agreed to by those of your subscribers believing that the DIY arrangements are non-negotiable and that the consequences to the current government if the system is disturbed will be monumental--this should be supported by publicity to this effect.

Attacks on the inequity of the public service super schemes and parliamentary schemes should be part of the attack to preserve the existing pension arrangements for DIY pension members

Regards

J Macaulay

I have just read, with dismay, the article about Bill Shorten's intention to raid our self-managed super funds. I am a small business owner and manage my own fund, like probably most of the other small business owners in Australia because I do not trust the Large Superannuation Funds to give me a decent return. It is hard enough to growth a business and pay employees’ salaries and save for the future without the Government, of any flavour, wanting to dip into our money. All politicians have a privileged position where superannuation is concerned; we don’t see them put their hands into their pockets; no they would rather rob all of us!

I simply cannot understand the obsession of balancing the books at the next budget. If it takes one more year – who cares – no one that I know does.

Despite the dire predictions of David Murray concerning the Australian economy, we are not going to go bust as a nation any time soon, or indeed in my life time. It’s comments like these that give the Bill Shorten’s of this world the fuel they need to propel their mad ideas.

Superannuation should be sacrosanct and I do not believe it should be taxed at all. The Government want us to be fully self-sufficient when we retire and would rather we pay for all our services without recourse to any government funding. Fine, I am happy to do that but we won’t be able to if they keep taking our money and rob us the most precious aspect of superannuation – compounding returns.

If this government makes any changes to superannuation that disadvantages us – they will lose my vote at the next election.

R Herrick

The article by Robert Gottliebsen, 'Time to skin the Government Fat Cats' is not entirely accurate in its claim that retired Government employees on Defined Benefit Pension Schemes are ALL fat cats.

Sure, the Parliamentary scheme prior to 2004 is rather lucretive as is that of Judges, which is rather outrageous. Conversely, the Military DFRB defined benefit has already been pillaged by neglect by successive governments since 1994. Military employees paid a compulsory 5.5% pretax levy into the fund which was suposed to return a fixed percentage dependant on years served. The Jess Report stated this percentage was to be maintained to the cost of living or purchasing power. Keating discounted the DFRB return by 2% to meet budget needs. Howard taxed the DFRB return on military retirees for life, whereas others do not once they reach 60 years. The DFRB has not maintained purchasing power as it has been held to CPI in lieu of MATWE or the new pensioner index, This has resulted in a reduction of prescribed entitlements by nearly 50% since 1990. The average DFRB retirement pay ( Pension ) of all ranks is less that $24,000 pa. A retired RAAF Flight Lieutenant after 25 years service in 1990 was retired on a guaranteed 42.5% of final pay. Today that same person is receipt of 19% of a current Flight Lieutenant salary or

$24,000 less tax at the full marginal rate if earning other income and taxed at 10% if retired. Therefore this DFRB Government Prescribed Benefit Scheme cannot be construed as a 'Fat Cat' benefit, but the opposite.

T Horsington

I manage my SMSF. I could never get the returns from my industry fund that I get now with my own knowldege. I have been studying markets for 22 years. I am better than fund managers because I have my interests at heart, not one of thousands that the managers will never even know. I deal directly with the wholesale market which is far superior to the retail side. I do not have a fanancial planner. I set up my SMSF for a few dollars and my fees are only accounting and audit. I wrote my own SMSF software program. I do not need Bill Shorten or J. Guillard to interfere now or ever. I am not rich or even wealthy. But I am smart about investing.

What could the government do for me? Educate others to have their own SMSF and liberate them from the OLD AGE PENSION and the eternal government bullies.

G Prudames

Like so many others running their SMSFs, I worked and saved hard to live a decent retired life.  I paid taxes and now in retirement, with our SMSF we are supporting ourselves in difficult economic times, and we do not draw on the welfare system.

It is with grave concern that we hear of regular attempts to tamper with a good system. Like others, I see Eureka Report as a bastion who can articulate and fight our cause. Please continue vigorously along this path.

When I try to articulate our "cause" I am aware that there are many issues and facts that I am not fully informed about.  If I were to engage a politician, I would not be able to present a convincing argument based on facts. For example, it seems that public servants and politicians have special privileges and are excluded from the proposed damaging changes.

Robert Gottliebsen mentioned some of this recently.  It defies belief that

Treasury officials and politicians can be so hypocritical as to raid the Super piggybank while keeping their own (disproportionate?) benefits safe.

My requests are:

1.  Please have someone compile the case for protecting our Super (including comparisons with the public service and politicians benefits) and paste it on a permanent section of the Eureka Report where we can refer to it time and again. As new threats emerge and circumstances change, this document can be updated.

2. When the time is appropriate, please guide and encourage us to write to our politicians and media. This is where we need the facts as under (1).

3. We must challenge the view that we are the few very rich (that deserve to be fleeced).  It is amazing that these views are propagated by politicians and public service officials whose salaries are by no means low (and with secure retirement entitlements). Those who pander to the politics of envy will find that tradies and "fluoros" are doing very well financially (good on them), and they are no longer the safe fodder for this kind of politicking.

Keep up the good work,

A Morkel

Firstly thank you for your efforts in making the general public aware of just what is happening in the superannuation arena.

Having been told by governments of both political persuasions for at least the last 20 years to be frugal and plan for our own retirement so that we would not be a burden on the public purse, we now find that they just cannot keep their hands off our savings.

What's more to the point is that those politicians and public servants who will be running the ruler over the whole superannuation industry, are in fact the ones who will receive their pension as a defined benefit, indexed linked.

It's extremely difficult not to be cynical.

Keep up the much appreciated good work.

R Wyver

Dear Editor, For a large portion of the time I was saving through super I paid 30% tax on input and I am disgusted with this governments attitude to possible non labour voters.

They don't care and are really a bunch of self serving ugly people who are changing the very culture of Australia and what has made it such a great place to live.

Super is a very long term investment tool and for us who are now retired we have done our bit. It's totally unacceptable that changes can be made that materially affect our ability to live out our lives the way we planned while government fat cats give themselves 20% plus salary increases and enjoy their pensions which are totally unaffected by any changes ( some already introduced and future) made to public sector. It stinks!!!

C Toms

Whatever will they think of next ! I believe that any schoolboy could under stand robbing the smsf"s for political reasons would obviously incur vast increases of costing the payout of age pensions . I believe that the the smsf scheme has been approved by both partys since inception and it is saddening and a sign of desparation that the present government even considers such foolhardiness. At the age of 86 I would not look forward to any sign of a government handout !!.

Keep up the good work Alan.

N Clewlow

Thanks for the opportunity to express an opinion on the Government's proposal to put further disincentives before those of us who are trying to plan for our retirement.

I will be 65 in 3 years, and up to now, I had the view that the more I had in my SMSF, the less call I would have on the public purse, and the more Government supported and fostered that ideal.

However, the goal posts have been shifted; the real aim of this Government is to find a fat calf (Superannuation) that it can slaughter for the sake of short-term political advantage (a budget surplus).

The reality to me is that the changed contribution limits (now back to

$25,000 per annum), and now the prospect that taxes may be levied in this area of my savings for my retirement, means three things; Firstly, I will run out of super savings earlier and therefore be a drain on the public purse sooner rather than later; Secondly, Government ALWAYS changes the goal posts to suit political whims rather than realities (my Dad told me this 40 years ago!!), and Tthirdly, I will NOT vote for any party that screws my "secure" retirement.

V Costantino

With regard to superannuation, most of your articles seem to be about the effect of changes on those about to retire ie: my parents generation. Thats fair enough as I have seen both my parents go from being comfortable about retiring in 2008, to both returning to work in 2012. My father is 67 & unwell, my mother is 65. Their health & living costs are rising while their incomes are falling. I feel for them & neither my sister or I are ever going to be a burden to them. All of my friends in my generation (gen x) have a strong desire to be independent from our parents, and we have been like this for 20 years or more since we left home. Most of us help our parents now, & have done so since we left university. I can think of one of my closest friends who became an engineer. After saving for the first 6 months of his professional career & on recieving his first tax return (17 years ago), he paid off the remainder of his parents mortgage. We help with our parents rates & health costs. Mr Swan keeps talking about the need to pay for the ageing population......we already do!

As for our view of super as an asset class, when talking with my friends, we seem to share the same view that it is the lowest of our priorities & one of the poorest financial assets to hold. This wasnt always my view. Some of the reasons for the change are:

1) Government policy changes - there is no consistency in policy, so it is very difficult to plan for the future with super. The changes to tax policy & contributions policy leave me with no faith that any extra I invest in super will be worth the effort given that I am assuming the government will change policies in the future. This could be increasing the tax rate, super surcharges, or changes the age at which we can access our super. I very much doubt I will be allowed access to my super when I turn 65! Thus I used to put in extra contributions & salary sacrifice. Now I only have employer contributions & will not put extra in (& yes I am a fan of Bruce Brammall & have read his views on super - I guess we are more likely to follow his "Debt Man Walking" view to investing).

2) For super, my generation has had two choices initially - a retail or industry super account. In my career I have had both (not now). Over a twenty year period, none of these funds had outperformed my own investments. The retail fund charged extremely high fees for limited return, which might be good for the owners of the fund, but I only saw the financial industry siphoning off money from my account. The industry fund I was in (a health

fund) performed OK but not better than my own investments. The directors seemed to have an affliation with the union & were paid quite well for directing the fund.

3) Superannuation funds invest in the same asset classes that we do independently. When I look at what happened to my dad's super (a conservative

fund) it demonstrates that super is not as secure an asset as people think.

That is unless you have an indexed defined benefit fund. I could say that if this was available to me I would roll all of my super into it & make extra contributions straight away. However as a country this is not an option for Australia as it leads to a "Greece" (or France or Italy etc)

So having little faith in governments/politians (I'm voting for John Key at the next federal election), Canberra public servants, the financial industry or unions, my friends seem to have followed an independent path. We were fortunate our parents supported us through our education & at university. We are all now 40. We have worked hard to get where we are now. Being flexible & mobile has seen my closest friends move all over Australia & the world to pursue our careers. I have moved from health to the resource industry. My two closest friends run businesses. The young man who once paid off his parents mortgage now runs a mid sized civil engineering firm. We pay a lot of tax, & dont complain about that too much. Australia is a great country after all & it has been good to us. The opportunties are there if you want them. However I wouldnt expect too many of my Gen X friends to look favorably on super, or expect it to provide for us or even be there for the time when we retire.

If like the friends of my generation did, we could further encourage people to move to where the opportunities are, rather than try to increase taxes to redistribute wealth, perhaps we wouldnt need to tinker with the super system at all.

MK

Robert Gottliebsen's segment on defined benefit schemes is right on the money.

Although I presonally have seen the benefits of the scheme (my 92 year old father, a retired senior Commonwelath public servant, has been retired since age 60 on an indexed pension) I have serous doubts about the sustainablity of this concept for Australia. It used to be that public servants retired on generous DBS superannuation benefits but were employed during their working careers on salaries less than the private sector, but this doesn't seem to be the case anymore. In addition to the current and future liablity on the taxpayer there is the diminished ability of the working future DBS recipient to relate to market conditions that affect the rest of us. They are in part divorced from such realities and in their public employment positions don't necessarily make the appropriate decisions that affect the rest of us - witness all the changes to the superannuation system!

It is time this issue received more airtime and advocacy for change. In an ideal world, the politicians and the public servants who serve the wealth-creating private sector should work and retire under the same financial conditions. As super contributions go to 12%, the superannuation system should be restricted to defined contribution schemes.

D Brunt

I have saved all my life & raised my children to be good citizens & not bludge off anyone.

However I feel the current government is far more concerned in paying benefits to their labour voters by forcing those who try & take responsibility for there own financial situations.to also pay for the people who are unwilling to work hard..

I have been willing to study & save for my retirement using self management responsibility. However if the goverbnent does not have adequate foresight to live up to their side of their deal then I can live live off the dole like all others.

I started my SMSF in good failth to try & save for my retirement & not be a burden to socity.

Loosing the opportunity to save $50k per year is an emormous hurdle which the governemt needs to reinstate. Request the followng considerations .

Bring back the $50 saving benefit - as previously in applied.

Maintain the 15% tax rate.

Maintain 12 mth & % 10 rate.

I feel powerless to make a difference to this governemt which continually make short term chenges which disadvantage me. What more can I do?

T Sallaway

Below is the text of a letter I wrote to our local member Jenny Macklin 3 weeks ago. I have not received a response as yet. I am pleased to hear that you are seeking support to oppose changes which would be adverse to DIY super. Please feel free to use the views we have expressed, to lend weight to your efforts. I feel strongly that the government needs to be made aware of just how electorally unpopular a tax grab directed at DIY super would be.

"Dear Jenny,

We are quite alarmed at reports that the government is considering changing the rules around superannuation which could undo our efforts to achieve financial security.

We are self funded retirees who run our own SMSF and we have made careful and considered investment decisions which have given us a measure of financial security and independence. We live modestly and make no drain on any form of social security.

Since 2007 we have navigated the GFC and the vagaries of the share market as well as conforming to the current superannuation framework. Running a SMSF has taken a lot of time and commitment. We feel proud of what we have achieved.

Any changes the government makes to the superannuation rules which are adverse to our financial security will be most unwelcome by us and all the other self-funded retirees we know. This is a vote-changing issue.

Any assurances you can give would be most welcome.

A & P Preacher

DIY Super Funds were set up to save the Federal Government money. Those who operate them spend a great deal of time determining the best ways to accumulate sufficient wealth to sustain them when the retire. The present system encourages members to work hard and the results of their efforts mean that they are able to support themselves without resorting to the coffers of the Federal Government.

Surely even a blind man can see that DIY Super Funds as they are, are not for tax saving scams, but are for hard working Australians to be self sufficient.

Many of the Self Funded Retirees are not squandering their resources on riotous living - many are struggling with recent imposes on the Federal Government, but they believe that as Australians they have an obligation not to expect other Australians to support them.

M Hector

Over the years I have believed the Government about the need to provide for my retirement. It is now up up the government to honour my commitment with their commitment to DIY super and the SMSF system.

M Champion

Regarding James Kirby's article: "A super call to Eureka readers" and the recent Labor government's attempts to wreck SMSF superannuation (after squandering all its inherited surplus).

There have been some attempts (I can recall hearing about 2 at least) to get a Canberra capable, SMSF reresenting body up and running, and a group I belonged to assisted by subscribing to one of those. Seems only weeds flourish Canberra soil - as there indeed seems to be no such SMSF reprenting groups extant today. Indeed, Shorten's immortal words to the effect of "...

the SMSF guys are outside the tent, why should they be taken into account?"

(when speaking of lack of protection from fraudulent financial advisors) seems to show not just the fact that there is no representation of SMSF,s but also Shorten's glee in "sticking it up us" as well.

If Eureka would care to campaign on this matter - as it did it its early days on the matter of Financial Advisors' fees, I am sure it would be appreciated by most readers who own an SMSF. I do note that such a campaign would need to be non partizan - indeed it would all the more effective were that to be the case. I seem to recall that Alan Kohler managed significant commitment to his crusade against the inequity of "fee without service" without making a party political thing of it.

Is Eureka still up to that?

Hope so.

LG

For many years I have carefully husbanded my financial resources to avoid being on the public purse. In recent times I have watched overseas stock markets outperform Australia's. This was all against a background of spin of "the strongest economy in the world". Why you might say? Very simple, sovereign risk. Government argues that if this is so why is there such overseas interest in buying our companies? Very simple, because government policies have reduced their true enterprise value. Attacking super will as a consequence reduce the attractiveness of the Australian market for locals, reducing prices and making it even better for predatory overseas buying.

I believe that one of the biggest factors driving stock prices is a perception of the future and It is difficult to see much of a change in confidence for at least a year as there remains a fear, albeit low, that we will get the same again for another three years. Spin and rhetoric have become the norm and unfortunately carry a strange aura where lies can appear as truth.

J Hoffman

This pillaging of the best superannuation system in the world has got to stop.

P Astill

I am a 49 year old, full time, salaried employee who moved from an industry fund to a SMSF with my wife in 2006. In no way do I consider myself "rich", even though I happen to earn above $180K pa. I associate myself with the group that Bruce Brammall loosely refers to as "interested enough to care".

Your article certainly hit a chord with me given recent media "publicity"

(read code for a Govt. canvassing support for potential changes) about further tinkering with super in general, & SMSF super in particular.

While I don't agree the system needs further tinkering (everyone seems to have forgotten it is all about reducing future calls on the public purse) if there are to be any further changes, they need to be across the board. I think it is absolutely scandalous that one type of fund could be singled out for additional restrictions, above & beyond those already in place.

We currently have ~$730K in our SMSF and do not (and don't intend to) hold any freehold property (or debt) in the fund, so any changes to the gearing rules won't affect us. Nevertheless, I still think it is wrong in principle to change the rules again now for those that do.

The final point I wish to make, in reference to the "future public purse"

comment above, is that I do not expect to receive Govt. assistance of any description when the time comes for me to retire and access super (under current preservation rules some 10 years away at least). If I have to resort to Govt. assistance, then I believe I will have failed.

R Wight

I appreciate your continual highlighting of the current difficulties for SMSFs. I spend many hours chasing yield and decent sharemarket returns - I will not be able to really retire as this work will be ongoing. Like many the size of our superfund has been hit by the financial crisis, declining property values and declining interest rate yields. Consequently our expected income has also fallen and we will likely have to draw on our capital much earlier, with, as you point out the possibility of it running out. It has been quite distressing to find that the current government may add to these difficulties.

Whilst as a Labour voter I appreciate the government's need to fund programs for the less able, I agree that this should come from all superannuants, including highly paid public servants AND politicians. I believe that politicians who have held office prior to 2004 have an overly generous superannuation scheme. Julia needs to consider what she plans to contribute rather than look only to others.

I would like to point out also that it is a common misconception in the press that transition to retirement pensions are only available to self-managed funds. I have several friends who are public servants (not fat cats either) who use this as a means of contributing toward their retirement and will be hit badly if these provisions are tampered with.

Keep up the good work.

D Sorensen

There is a natural aspiration to have someone else pay one their wages or pension in retirement. It is a rather over the top expectation. The current system is not aligned to this aspiration because most citizens contribute in their life time by way of paying tax or accumulating super pension prospects through contributions. Those that dont work are a differnt issue.

The amount of pension that should be excluded from taxes or other costraints should be based on some sense of fairness other wise we will end up pushing our nation over the cliff just like Greece. Tax avoidance there become the national hobby and Government support was and still is exploited beyond reason. Retirement and pension entitlements were politisised to such an extend that people where retiring at ages from 45 to 55 years old. As well pensions from the deseased where passed on to the younger living in uncontrolled ways. Eventually the state whent broke and all are suffering. So what is fair pension from super is the target issue.

I dont think the state should be supporting tax free pension incomes and capital gains from super funds be it SMSF or other beyond certain amounts. I dont think under any circumstances the total super capital through private or other contributions should be uncapped. Its about what level of greed the nation can afford for people in retirement.

The average pension for a couple is about $26k plus a smal allowance for interest from other savings.

If we allowed an untaxed super pension income of $100k maximum and anything above taxed at company tax rate it would provide for a reasonable retirement life stile. Any one needing above this level of income should seek it from other private investments that are subject to the company tax rate. This should cap the maximum tax exampt super capital base to $1.25million. beyond this level we are indulging in fuelling greed at the expense of our nation and the future of our children.

L Savas

I was fortunate enough to work in an industry where the remuneration is in the top 5%,the hours were long and the task is deemed to be high risk,high stress and at times downright dangerous.

My wife is a homemaker and reared three children keeps a great house and has a small superannuation pension.

All my financial planning was based around accumulating a decent superannuation and getting rid of the mortgage,both have been achieved with little risk but also with few tax deductions.

I am horrified that plans,which are about to crystalise are being jeopardized .

I am a prudent investor who never borrowed vast amounts to negatively gear shares or borrowed heavily to gear property.I have a close friend who has paid bugger all tax for at least 15 years using this strategy and,bless his cotton socks,has really not contributed anything to the country as it is all take and no give.Legal yes,morally ,corrupt.

It appears the this and no doubt the next government will penalize investors who are prudent,pay their fair share of tax and yet will continue to encourage the high risk,high debt investor who pays little if any tax through negative gearing.

Younger investors are encouraged to avoid super by this governments behavior and no doubt ,when by the time our vintage have descended to the tomb ,the taxpayer will still be dealing a huge increase in social welfare for the elderly.

Before hounding savers the government should take a cold hard look at tax avoidance by religions,companies and individuals whose remuneration is above the average but pay no tax.

A pox on their house I say.

J Barker-Simson

Dear Minister Shorten,

Please do not disadvantage SMS Funds. Our fund has consistently outperformed the industry over a decade with conservative policies.

J&G Rabong

Hi Alan and team. I have been reading all the commentary in the media about expecting this government to raid the superannuation savings of retirees and ,in particular, SMSF's. The whole gambit seems to rely on the Labour government's assumption that only rich people have SMSF's and therefore these can be easily raided as they are not likely to be represented by labour voters.

What I would like to see is someone do an analysis that shows the impact of the recently announced changes and the potential forthcoming ones on the super of the PM, Treasurer, senior bureacrats etc. I have a feeling that most of them would be in defined benefit funds and therefore tha tax payer would carry the ultimate cost of these changes. That being the case the setting of policies that raid the retirees super will not impact them. If such an aalysis shows that some of these backward steps on super has mainly shielded the pollies and bureaucrats then it may be the best weapon in publishing that and putting public pressure on these guys.

I just find it amazing that governments want to place a disincentive on those who seek no government pension or benefit. Seems like you do the right thing all your life, pay taxes, save for your retirement and the "hands" are out again to support some idealogy. While constant fiddling will be a real disincentive for younger people to trust super, for those who are in it and have made choices based on the existing rules, changes will only encourage them to break rules, withdraw funds, take risks and rely on the pension as a last resort.

C Khanna

Here comes another person on a Government pension (me). I walk past my local pub and restaurant strip and see all these people enjoying themselves like there is no tomorrow. I watch the reckless drivers on Sydney roads driving like there is no tomorrow. I'm heading toward 60, controlled my spending, controlled my behaviour and religiously put my money into Super so that I will be able to support myself when I'm past working. The reward for my diligence is no protection from the effects of the GFC and more tax. The effect being that as each year passes it looks like the Government is not going to allow me to have enough Super to look after myself. Therefore looking to the 21st century tax payer with their hard earned savings to support me instead of myself with my own. What is the government thinking?

K Fletcher

We would do everything we could to stop these parasites touching our hard earned money. We have worked in our own business for over 37 years, with only two holidays in that time, and now retired, with no government pension, fully selfunded. We do not intend to give this modern day Robin Hood government one more cent. Keep up the fight.

A Bosch

The country cannot afford the tax breaks given to super funds and income streams. I support a sensible look at the taxing/non taxing of income streams and the Fund its self.

R Schweinsberg

Dear Editor,

           I am writing to let you know that I am willing to stand up and shout against the attack on super by the politicians. Unfortunately Politicians lie its' what they do best but it also seems to me that the average Australian (myself included) does not complain either loudly or long because they are frightened that political machine will turn on them. You could also says that this means we get what we deserve.

           I am hoping that this situation may be different in that the general opinion of all MP's is at an all time low, they have been blatantly self serving for a number of years, many of whom have never had a proper job or run a business & consequently have no real understanding about responsibility & accountability. If the average Joe punter did what they do we'd be locked up! There seems to be a them & us mentality which could be the weak link.

            They have the most generous & highly protected super scheme, I think if that was attacked they would back down. Given that they are supposed to be leaders let them cut their future contributions back to the same as everyone else & since they have already salted away significant sums attack that, since the current deficit is due to their mismanagement/ incompetence they should at least be affected first. Personally I'd go back five years & take a levy of all government members increasing the % according to time in office & seniority of position.

            The spin is :--- its all for the good of the country & it's time our leaders set an example ,put their money where their mouth is .

People are really fed up of big perks/ pay offs irrespective of whether the job was well done. Too many bankers CEOs etc have obscene salaries & in the case of the Aussie government this economy should be doing so much better because it was not directly hit by the GFC, but due to poor management & too much red tape little has been reinvested back into this country. If we want a better class of politician we must weed out the crap & stop making it so easy for them to sit in Canberra on a generous salary & interfere with those people who are actually doing the work.

            As for the big super funds why they should be allowed to lobby for legislation to force people to use them when they are so uncompetitive beggars belief. Most people are currently unhappy with their super returns so a very large publicity campaign highlighting this now has a good chance of motivating the public.

J Kilburn

Dear Eureka Report Editors, I encourage you to go to bat on this issue of the governments potential changing of policies on self managed super funds. It is abhorrent that due to their fiscal mismanagement they can fiddle with the savings of individuals to shore up their own balance sheets in an attempt to get re-elected. A loud protest needs to be presented to make sure this does not happen. Go for it. Self funded retirees need to be protected and Australians should be encouraged to work hard, save and provide for themselves, setting an example to younger generations rather than expecting to get government handouts as a way of life. Thank you for your efforts.

T Bennett

The Keys to the House and the "Household Assistance Package"

I am 56 and, like many of your readers, and working to save for a secure future. The recent federal budget has hit me, to the tune of several thousand dollars this year alone. I feel hurt, like a householder who has just had their house robbed.

Through the tinkering of superannuation contributions limit, the party in power has managed to remove a significant amount of hard-earned dollars -- dollars that would have been saved for my household's future.

The trouble, as your articles indicate, is that the tinkering of the superannuation tax system is not a one-off hit, but is part of a pattern that repeats each year this government remains in office. The householder, who knows that the thief holds the keys to the house, can expect the thief to return for more. To the party in power, the Tax Office provides the keys to the house, a device to remove the earnings of people who work to save for their retirement.

The government ran ads after the last budget promoting a so-called "Household Assistance Package". The concept of spending taxpayers' money on advertising for political purposes has reached a new level of sophistication. Not only is the government (the party in power) spending dollars representing that they are doing something good for people (handing out money), they are actually handing out money that was extracted from taxpayers -- households that are saving for their future.

While the ads represent that they are assisting households, the party in power is actually hurting households. The idea, of taking money from savers, to give people to spend on consumer goods and the pokies, is not helping households that save. Taking money from savers for political purposes feels like theft to me.

As long as the thief holds keys to the house, we can expect the thief to return for more. What security do we have for the future, with a government removing the savings of taxpayers?

D Driscoll

I am about to turn 58. I am concerned with the possibility of changes to super and the possible impact on my future as I draw close to retirement.

P McMaster

Good Morning Eureka Team and thank you for your good work.

To me the main actions the government could take to ensure retirees do not benefit unduly from the superannuation system are:

- Increase the level of contributions so that we can really achieve SELF FUNDED RETIREMENT including being able to fund our medical expenses. Many retirees have to rely on Health Benefits and therefore have not achieved Self Funded Retirement;

- The increased level of contribution should particularly apply for the last few (10?) years of working life when contributors have more disposable income and less family and mortgage expenses;

- Reinstate a Reasonable Benefits Limit at a level which is commensurate with our standards of living during our working life and taking account our life expectancy. The RBL will be more likely 2 millions or more and possibly could be set at a multiple of a person's average income over, say the last 10 working years. Of course such RBL should be indexed to CPI. This would ensure that high income earners do not overcontribute which seems to be one of the government's main concern as far as contributions are concerned.

- Having enjoyed tax benefits to ensure self funded retirement, some form of tax on the remaining balance of the SMSF could be levied before transmission to the estate of a retiree.

B Demeulemeester

To Bill Shorten, Politician

Dear Bill,

I am writing to you today to hopefully give you good reason to step back from proposed changes to rip more income out of the superannuation system and most likely break it in the process.

It is with increasing despair that i read that you and your government appear determined to drive a stake through the heart of an efficient system of long term savings that was one of the many worthwhile initiatives of Paul Keating. I was not a great fan of his at the time , but as a student of economics and finance i certainly am today. It is a system with true long term benefits.

That you would propose to use this savings model for what appears to be short term politic gain is honestly appalling. Yet unfortunately typical of the political class today.

I have been in business , small business, almost all of my working life. 28 years. I am now 54.

I do not not what your personal journey has been , but to survive, let alone prosper in business today, in an environment of exponential change is a monumental task. There is a clear and direct link between my income and the successful running of my business. No large institution , organisation or government body to rely upon for my daily bread. I make it happen for myself, my family and my staff.

At the closing stages of my business life , after supporting my family, paying for my children's upbringing and education, i am at a point where i can finally direct a portion of my income to saving for my wife and i in retirement. I have learnt to be very disciplined with my money.

I have no intention of relying on the government pension to sustain us in our retirement. I have paid tax personally and from my business every single year of my working life. I have sucked little off the teat of government largess.

No childcare rebates, very little family allowance , no baby bonus, rent support, unemployment benefits, new start, research grants, or even the recent children at school bonus. Pretty much nothing. Just paying tax.

But now as i work diligently to fund myself , as i said, with no desire or expectation for government support, i find myself, along with thousands of people like me, in the cross hairs of populist, desperate, political machinations.

I do not for a second presume to have any idea regarding the pressures involved in staying elected in our modern democratic system, or know whether you personally are championing the ideas for the stripping of superannuation benefits , but from the perspective of an individual who has taken little from the system and contributed a lot, it is simply is unjust. More than unjust, it is also bad policy. For the long term that is. Some might say, when did a politician care about the long tern welfare of the country when staying elected is at stake.

To sum up, in a world reeling from the weight of unfundable government entitlements, why would any party or politician want to actively discourage the drive by the very people who have the savings ethic and the lack of desire to stick their snout in the diminishing government trough. If your fellow politicians were to suffer the same fate as people like myself it would make it a little more palatable, but of course with your defined benefit schemes you will be unaffected. No great surprise. Well life is not fair as they say.

I just hope for the sake of the country Bill, you can change the road you are going down.

G Smith

Hi James and Alan, Do you have the resources to produce a list of individual MP's superannuation benefits and the contribution by the taxpayer in each case. Could be interesting from the equity view point.

MN

Any attempt by the Federal Labor Government to start dipping into DIY super funds by way of increased tax would prove that this government is incapable of managing its budget and can only survive by threatening the funds of those who have diligently saved during their working lives.  It also threatens those still working and contributing to their own funds.

I am not prepared to forfeit my hard earned funds to subsidise a government that has completely ignored the predictions and closed its eyes to lower returns from the mining industry.

The Opposition needs to rigorously fight ANY moves to change the DIY superannuation rules.  It is not the responsibility of DIY superannuants to balance the Federal Budget - we did our own budgets and claim no pensions or health care cards. Create incentives to get businesses employing people and get them off social security then watch the budget balance itself.

G Morgan

james Kirby makes very good point

I think DIY savers should have a lobby to protect its inteests Can EUREKA start a campaign to establish a lobby

kind regards

D Muraben

As someone who has never depended on government handouts, apart from a Commonwealth Post-graduate Scholarship in the 1960s, my wife and I have brought up two children who are totally financially secure and saved all our lives (and paid life-long income and other taxes) for what will be a totally self-funded retirement.

We would be appalled if the current federal government, for politically motivated budget balancing reasons, would further tinker with self-funded superannuation arrangements.

Already changes in the last few years have made it unattractive to continue to work and pay our taxes. Further fiddling with SMSFs would be the final straw and we would take retirement instantly.

Thanks to the Eureka Report for keeping us so well informed.

H Schaap

I am a small business owner, a husband and wife team. We have worked very hard over twenty years and have never received any handouts from the government. Life has been tough in our industry , especially this year. It is has also been very difficult to grow my super savings. If this government has to stoop so low in attacking my meagre savings it will be the final straw, they will at the bottom of my ballot paper.!

D Breugem

If there are 1 million DIY funds why not ask every fund to send the dear minister an email every day advising him of his folly politically if he tampers with people's hard earned savings. All we are trying to do is not be a burden on the government coffers!!!

B Kemp

What ever happened to the brains and far sightedness of Paul Keating who introduced the incentives for Australians to prepare and save for their own retirement thus taking the burden off the public purse. Howard and Costello saw the advantages and pushed the scheme onwards.

Now we are seeing the short sightedness of seriously less able people who can't see past the end of their noses. We are seeing daily decisions that are not thought through beyond next week. Pink Batts, School Building Programme, et al. Not only is there lack of ability to see the medium and longer term ramifications of their decisions but there is abysmal follow through, supervision, and measurement of performance leaving unscrupulous suppliers able to deliver shoddy, if not fraudulent, grossly overpriced work. How this has contributed to the current deficit can only be lamented.

The Mining Tax has delivered a fraction of the revenues that this great Government of ours planned because they obviously expected the minerals gravy train to go onwards and upwards for ever. Worse, they spent the expected largess before collecting, and spent it with no controls.

I am tempted, in charity, to label them honest but seriously incompetent. The alternative could only be that they are consciously moving forward with the intention of doing serious damage.

The last time we saw anything like the planned attack on superannuation savings was when there was a plan to remove tax breaks on donations to private schools. Right at the eleventh hour sanity prevailed and they took a look beyond the next week and realised that if the private schools closed or were forced to significantly raise fees there would be an exodus from there to the public school system which would be swamped. Looking beyond ideological boundaries, the fact was that even with the tax breaks being a drain on govt revenues the cost to the public purse at private schools was only a fraction of the Government outlay per child in the public system.

To attack the superannuation savings of so many Australians, who worked harder and spent less responding to the clear and intended incentives of a prior Labor Government, is despicable. It become unforgivable when you realise it has been the profligate and unproductive spending of this Government which sees us in deficit.

"Unforgivable" translates to a massive loss of votes for a Government which is already on the ropes. It is in no one's interests to see Labour lose by so massive a margin as to leave no realistic opposition to keep the next Government honest.

My message to Labor is this...

"Leave superannuation alone. It exists because your predecessors gave incentives to the worforce to build it. Your predecessors could see the benefit of reducing the age pension drag on the public purse. DON'T TURN KEATING'S LEGACY INTO A CON JOB. You are on the brink of the most massive political loss in Australian history if you add this chapter to your performance record."

My message to the independents is simply that your only chance of survival is to vote down any attempted raid on honest superannuation savings, and build a persona of decency and dependability. Older people matter just as much as any other Australian AND THEY ALL VOTE!!!

J Thom

I am a 65 year old financial adviser and a SMSF member in pension mode. I can see the need to fine tune certain aspects of the system but to attack it as a cash cow belonging to the rich would be counter-productive but typical of a Labor government hell bent on getting the budget into surplus to further their re-election prospects. The problem is that any punitive taxes on the "rich" (those who've worked their guts out and employed many people) would not be discontinued if a conservative government returned to power. Anyway, the answer in my view is to tax fund earnings and capital gains in pension mode. A 10% tax on capital gains and 15% tax on investment income (offset by franking credits) is not too much for the likes of me to pay and would strengthen the tax base now and increasingly in the future as more people move to pension mode.

I Wickens

I am appalled by the rule changes to superannuation which are being speculated upon - and no doubt there is no smoke without fire.

It is beyond belief that nothing less than a grab is being contemplated, for funds which have been hard-earned, and taxed, over life-times of work.

Moreover, diminished savings and incomes can never be recovered by any means by superannuants in the twilight of their lives.

I urge The Eureka Report to pass on my letter and others like it to wherever it may be noted.

R Cunnack

Here is a copy of the letter I sent immediately after the budget.

I recieved a reply from Mr Shorted which I'll send tomorrow.

Dear Mr Swan.

Our paths have crossed a number of times, only fleetingly. During the 1990s I was secretary manager of Geebung Zillmere RSL with which you have an association.

I have just turned 55 and negotiated a new contract with my employer Pine Rivers Bowls Club, the basis of which was to improve my super balance, with the honourable prospect of being self sufficient, and not a burden to my Government.

You see, I want to be self funded and not have to rely on a pension; something I believed would be encouraged and appreciated by the govt as I would not be a burden to them, leaving capacity for providing to those who did not have the opportunity to accumulate for a self sufficient retirement..

Your limit on the amount I can save in super has now thrown that strategy into chaos. Is there any other place in the world where a govt continually throws disincentives in the path of ambitious people wanting to save for their own self funded retirement? Anywhere else in the world where citizens’ life saving are used a political footballs? My current balance is well below the $500k deemed to be the magical cut off point, well below it.

However that did not deter me from making every effort to be self sufficient.

Your latest rule changes have done that now.

You guys have again added to the uncertainty and distrust which surrounds our super system. Politicians who are shielded from the normal super environment (lucky you) seem to have no idea of the impact you have on the mindset of average Australians trying hard to do the honourable thing and be self sufficient in retirement.

Please don't expect me to believe that the limit will be raised in 2 years time. Please don't treat me like a fool Mr Swan. How can I continue to place my life savings into a vehicle over which I have no control, is subject to the whims of politicians and for which there are no set rules. Investing should be about risk and reward, super is becoming a very risky place, unfortunately the rewards are not comparable. Prior to 2009 concessional contributions were $100,000 per annum. That went down to $50,000 in 2009 and now in 2012 they are $25,000. Do you really expect me to believe they will go back up? Is this an example of encouraging savings?

Mr Swan please don’t trot out the typical politician line of only wealthy Australians can afford that type of saving and you need to make the system more equitable. Yes $100,000 per year is way out f my league, but we are a family of modest means, and with 2 incomes we have the capability to save more than $25,000 per year into super, in fact we want to as well as have to.

We are at the only stage of our lives where we are in a position to do so, and you are discouraging us from doing so. You yourself said during the May

2010 budget;

“That the Government appreciated the harshness of removing the opportunity for mature Australians to play catch-up with super contributions”. (Shades of a carbon tax in there). Wonder why there is a lack of trust in not only Politicians but the super system? This statement gave me great hope that I was heading down the right path toward self sufficiency.

You know as well as I do that super rules will change again next year and the year after and the year after, generally when politicians who are shielded from the normal super system are looking for more tax revenue to subsidise those less fortunate, a very honourable and admirable trait, and one which Govt should pursue. However I honestly believe that you are in danger of encouraging our national to be nation less fortunate, at the expense of those of us who want to be self sufficient and not a burden on Govt, what a shame.

Mr Swan I would be interested to know the benefit of short term populist policy such as raping the super funds, as opposed to the longer term benefit of Govt paying out fewer pension entitlements in the future. Surely it is in Govt interests to encourage people to be self sufficient, or am I being too simplistic?

Perhaps Politicians should not be so myopic and try to concentrate on Australia’s longer term future, not on the next election. With every election comes the super tinkering with votes as the main objective at the expense of our longer term viability. Be careful Mr. Swan, Australia is aging and maybe one day superannuation will become a hot topic. Unfortunately the people who stuff the system with their policies, know they will not be reliant on the system.

I am by no means a wealthy man, and have no other interest in this matter than wanting to be my own master in retirement. Being 55 with a modest super balance of less than $300,000 and an almost empty nest, I believed I could now concentrate on the next phase of my life, namely a self funded retirement. Up until last night I was an outside chance of achieving my goal, even if I did have to work until I was 70. I woke up this morning with my goals and aspirations in tatters, and completely frustrated and disillusioned with our whole superannuation system, not to mention our political system, but that’s for another day..

I am seriously asking myself “why bother”. Why not just rely on the super guarantee going up to 12% (yippee), and use my spare cash to wine, dine and gamble. The Government can provide for me in my retirement. After all I pay my taxes, they owe me. Why squirrel away money now at the expense of a good time, when I don’t even know how, when or if I will be able to get my money out when needed. I bet within 5 years time the Government will be telling me how much of my money I can access because the pensions will be sending them broke.

  In June 2009, over-50s were permitted to make up to $100,000 a year in concessional contributions. At the end of June 2012, a mere three years later, the maximum amount that a person aged 50 years of over can contribute as concessional contributions (including compulsory Superannuation Guarantee

contributions) is $25,000 a year, and that cap will not be indexed until July

2014

I know you are a very busy man, and there are millions of people more important than me with more important agendas to discuss with you. If you do by chance get to read this, thanks for taking the time, however deep down I know that I am wasting mine, but I had to get it off my chest.

Look forward to discussing this letter with you over a beer at Geebung RSL in the near future.

W Moffatt

I have worked for 42 years and have not received any government assistance in any way (not even a home saving grant), and have during my working life provided employment for nearly 40 people.

I have worked within the rules all these years and provided for my own retirement ( SMSF).

I strongly object to the prospect of having to now pay additional tax from my retirement funds to fill the Governments black hole and provide benefits for many welfare recipients who have been too lazy to work hard to provide for their own retirement, but are prepared and expect the Government to provide for them.

All Australians and Taxpayers have an obligation to provide for the GENUINALY disadvantaged and underprivileged, and I am happy to assist these people, however this country has become too lazy and unproductive, and too expectant on government handouts and subsidies.

A Paikos

I recall a recent call for SMSFs to form a lobby group to represent our interests in Canberra, but I haven't seen or heard anything of this since.

Perhaps it needs a person or persons to commence organising so that such representation commences. I'm not really sure where to begin so I can only offer my support.

Most, if not all, SMSF Trustees will agree with Nick Sherry, a former Labor superannuation minister, who has pointed out that the generous defined benefit schemes still enjoyed by senior politicians, judges and army personnel should be targeted rather than ordinary savers. However, you won't hear them offering to be fair and to throw themselves and their superannuation into the mix.

We're growing tired of the uncertainty regarding superannuation's security from tampering. On one hand the government wants to increase superannuation savings, but on the other it eyes increased superannuation savings as a potential income stream. Can't have it both ways without risking being put well out in the cold at the next election.

M Lewis

If David Murray, (former Boss of the CBA and the Future Fund) is correct and I think he would know, 100% of the personal income taxes received go to fund welfare payments. This leaves GST revenue, Company and indirect taxes to pay for everything else. With our ageing population and as a result reducing workforce, this should be a real concern to all. To pay for "everything else" now and into the future the Federal Government have 4 choices. A) Increase personal taxes. B) Increase the rate of the GST. C) Increase Company and indirect taxes or D) Raid Superannuation accounts. Which do you think a Labor Government will choose? And rest assured they will not go after the Super that is actually paid for by employers (via the SGC) but rather they will go after the part of Super funds which was put there from external investments and good old fashioned saving for a rainy day. Those Australians who have worked hard and saved into their Super Funds, so they will not need to apply for Government assistance, should be afraid, be very, very afraid.

I Chant

To the Government of the day: Don't mess around with my super.

I've gone without for years to add extra to my super so I won't be a burden and draw a pension once I retire.

B Edwards

I have run my own self managed superannuation for the past 25 years as I was sick of seeing the super I had with an insurance company lose money each year.

I have made gains every year since then (you don't have to be Einstein!) and I am happy that as things look at the moment, I should be able to live off my fund without troubling the Government for a pension.

It amazes me that the Government would, firstly reduce the amount we can contribute & now look at taxing us on unrealised gains.

If they take more from my super fund, it stands to reason that I will need to take more from them, in the form of a pension, to live.

I would like to see Eureka 'go into bat' for us all and I for one would be happy to sign petitions or anything else that may get the Government's notice.

Keep up the good work, I look forward to every issue.

N Skurray

After having set up an SMSF to fund my own retirement, the government has over the last few years, greatly reduced the tax concessional contribution limit to $25,000. I find it astounding that someone in government has arbitrarly decided that I already have enough super to retire on as at this greatly reduced contribution rate, I will have a hard time building up capital to my preservation age.

After trusting the government's promise to allow me to fund my own retirement via an SMSF, I now feel like a pawn in the the short termist drive to fund a surplus.

Superannuation policy should span decades, which is the term over which I must plan the rest of my life, not to the next budget surplus!

R Judd

I have a Self managed fund and am happy with the returns. I am absolutely appalled at the consistant attacks on Superannuation by the present Government. The attacks are creating uncertanty and distrust with the system.

If we are forced to contribute some of our hard earned wages we should maintain the ability to decide where and how the money as invested. What is wrong with a government that does not want self funded retirees ? What is wrong with a government that seeks to redistribute wealth from the so called haves to the have nots ? How did the haves become self suffiecient ? Through hard work and constant endeavour. Should the government make supperanuation not worthwhile I am sure most SMF trustees will divert ass much as possible to other avenues to maintain lifestyles or planned lifestyles in retirement.

Don't they get it ?

I cannot think of enough words but disgusting, appalling,abysmal,disgracefull,Misgiuded and pathetic spring to mind.

S McDonald

Too many changes too often. We have a great super system in Australia, but too many changes too often will destroy confidence. I do concede that the benefits went too far and we could adjust some of these. The whole purpose of Super is to allow Australians to fund their retirement, not to fund their kids retirement through excessive tax breaks to those who will have sufficient super.

* No borrowing in super - complicates the system, tends to inflate property prices, used by those who are well off and have good financial advisers who look for tax breaks

* Reducing the $300,000 to $200,000 for 30% tax deduction seems fair

* Allowing $25,000 contributions is not excessive & shouldn't be changed

* 15% tax on contributions & 0% tax for retirees are not excessive when you consider the income form $1,000,000, say $50,000, would not be enough to live off especially if taxed. Increasing these tax breaks will only increase Government pension payments today and more so into the future when super balances won't be as high due to the reduction in contribution limits.

But whatever changes are proposed the best way forward would be for both parties to support a 3-5 year period of no change. We need to settle on the rules for more than just one or two years before they are changed again. Due to the lack of our politicians to work together and compromise I'm sure there will be ongoing change, but we can hope.

Thanks for setting up this easy method for posting our thoughts.

P Robinson

The recent news in the Eureka Report that the current government is looking to superannuation to fund their budget shortfall is extremely alarming.

As if it was not enough to slash the limit on concessional contributions, any further incursion into super will severely affect our ability to self fund our retirement. Goodness knows what they may do, but whatever it is, it appears likely to be bad.

At the moment, my wife and I have enough to ensure we are ineligible for the public funded pension, but not enough to live on reasonably comfortably.

Given that we have largely gone without regular entertainment, eating out and holidays in order to secure our future, when we could have spent all our income and then retired on the public purse, it is unfair that the government should encourage such frugal behaviour (which was and remains highly laudable) then pull the rug out from under our feet at the last minute.

Please engage your best endeavours to ensure that the government know how the ordinary superannuation investor feels.

J Pederick

I applaud your call for action by SMSF’s in the Eureka Report of 3 Oct along with your commentary in Business Spectator 28 Sept regarding the lack of an official voice for the sector.

I called for expressions of interest to set up an independent SMSF trustees association in my letters to Eureka 25 July and again 5 Sept. It is clearly the only way we can ‘make a noise’ as Alan says in your interview 3 Oct.

It is remarkable that an industry as large as ours is not represented in its own right and relies on other (usually vested interest) groups to speak on our behalf.

I am now in discussion with a number of people with specific expertise regarding the setting up of a credible and independent SMSF association for members and trustees. A database is being collated of those expressing an interest in joining.

Keeping the association simple, it needs to position itself as the peak body

in:

1.         Discussions with government, ATO and regulators on matters relating to the

sector to ensure our voice is strong, cohesive and heard when rule changes are contemplated

2.         Providing a meaningful voice for shareholders in ensuring Director

accountability regarding company results, responsible remuneration and total return to shareholders, recognising the significance of ASX investments in most SMSF portfolios

3.         Maintaining access to a current database of SMSF legislation and

regulation in language the members understand

4.         Organising annual forums for members to be briefed on relevant industry

issues, developments and opportunities

There are undoubtedly many other needs and interests and suggestions will be welcomed. Experts in these fields will be sought for board and committee positions.

In short, it is time SMSF members were afforded the same opportunities as the major funds as, collectively, we are far bigger than each of them and yet we are sidelined from the ‘discussion’ by government and the corporate sector. We own about one third of the stock market but are not briefed by companies on results or board appointments or remuneration. We also need a level playing field regarding capital raisings.

There are nearly 500,000 of us. We need to be taken seriously, whether we are independently investing or using fund managers. The only way this will happen is with a strong association as our peak body and I urge SMSF’s to register their interest initially to me on leighkealton@exandpro.com.au.

L Kealton

Dear Sir,

I write in relation to the continuing erosion of our opoeration of SM Super Funds and the continuing attack that we can expect as this Government clutch at any straw in an attempt to avoid a budget deficit.

We note that all of the adjustments! to Superannuation to date have not touched the extremely generous terms enjoyed by our Politcians and Judges.

Whats good for the goose is good for the gander howver as usual we can expect self interest will prevail whilst they attack those of us who have attempted after years of hard work to put in place funds for our retirement and now feel very threatened by what will be draconian changes to what we can do with our own money and threaten the life style we hoped to lead in retirement.

Is there no end to meddling self interested politicians who spend more time debating useless waffle instead of doing the job to which they were elected to do namely RUN THE COUNTRY with some degree of effeciency and common sense for the good of all.

B Tyquin

Sir, My parents came to Australia in 1950, to escape the communist regime in the Czech republic. Father worked for two years to pay off the assisted passage, then re-qualified here as a doctor (had a master of medicine from Prague,not recognised here). Two young children. My point is

this: We came here with $10 cash, since that time not one person in the family has ever take ONE cent of government aid. My father died at 74, mother at 90, neither had a pension, mother had a PhD., both children have post graduate qualifications, grandchildren have tertiary & post graduate degrees, All have paid a lot of tax, no benefit was ever taken. What gives the Labor party the right to put their snouts in and root around with our superannuation!!!!!! They most certainly did'nt earn it, I did!

J F Krivanek

As a DIY fund manager who has always paid all required taxes for 45 years, and presently cost the Government hence the community very little, excluding medicare, I find any significant changes quite draconian. Dont we already have a world class system in place that has contributed in part to our national financial standing?

J Fleiner

An excellent article about the government anticipated policy change on superannuation.

As well as the actual loss of long term savings created by taxation at an early point in the investment cycle it will undermine Australians confidence in superannuation, and savings in general, which will be a detriment to our nation.

In particular, you highlight the short term nature of the policy making decision. This coincides with Alan's recentarticle about short term thinking by Australian investors in the steel industry. So the question is - how can we turn around Australia's Business and Government leaders short term approach to life? Should they be required to spend a week a year meditating in a Budist monastery?

Entering the Asian century with very short term thinking is not going to bode well for our nation.

Bring back the nation builders.

J King

1. SMSF 'users' need to have professional representatives - that lobby for our interestes - just the same as motorists have the NRMA etc for them. Happy to pay annual fee to belong.

2. I beleive there should be no restrictions on putting up to $1 milllion into Super. Any amount, at any age - who cares - as long as it is under $1m.

Then, and only, then should it start to be 'controlled' so that some folk don't abuse the process.

3. There should be an element to ensure retirees do not 'double dip' i.e.

lump sum spent and then claim the pension. Perhaps a mechanism to control this - or penalise those that do.

J Runyard

I am a self funded retiree who has never put his hand out to the Govt for anything. I don`t get a pension or part pension and hopefully never will.

I am not exceedingly wealthy. I retired at the age of 50 as I felt that I had sufficient to enable me to live with a good lifestyle until I fell off my perch. I had worked and saved during my life and had not, as many people do, spent as fast as I earned so had managed to accumulate a few assets. I inherited nothing from my parents who were basically very poor. We never owned a car or our own house. Whatever I had I had earned.

I was lucky as my quitting work more or less coincided with the equity bull market and I ended up with a lot more than I anticipated.

However I think I invested fairly wisely and I enjoy a good yearly income from my self managed super fund.

However I am aghast at the thought that the Govt may steal my hard earned savings for a purely political purpose. To attempt to prop up its own financial state for which it alone is responsible despite our treasurers repeated bleatings.

I firmly believe that the world does not owe any one a living. If you want something you work and save for it. If you can`t afford it you go without.

This includes having children.

I will firmly support all efforts to defeat any attempt on behalf of this Govt to steal my life.

G Thorncraft

Having managed my own SMSF since the late 1980s, this latest play by the labor politicians to go for the Super jugular fills me with dismay.Building up sufficient funds in super to provide for retirement takes most of us a lifetime, unlike as you pointed out the very generous "defined benefit pensions" available to senior politicians most of whom have never had a 'real job' outside the party machine or Union movement.You are spot on in recognising we need to make as much noise and lobby like hell before we all succumb to a death by a 1000 changes! At least through the Eureka Report, I no longer feel that it's just happening to me and that your membership is in the same boat and we need to mobilise our defence against this profligate government.You realise how bad things are when Bill Kealty and Nick Sheery two former labor ministers are heard to protest.Alan you are also right when you say that most people have lost confidence in "Superannuation" the constant chopping and changing is too hard for many people to keep up to speed with and like a large part of the economy is thrown in the "too hard basket".

WE URGENTLY NEED SOMEONE TO REPRESENT OUR INTERESTS AGAINST THIS GOVERNMENT, BEFORE ITS TOO LATE !

JS

The original idea for Super Funds were for retirees to save for there old age and not put such a pressure on the Goverment for old age pensions. It would now appear Self Employed Old Age are getting little assistance with the interest rate so low and they now they are expected to fund the Goverment to back up their bold statement of getting the budget back into surplus. Where and just what form the sting will take seems to be unknown as yet but it will come. Where will the next move be when they have broken the self employees back? Are the ordinary workers super funds going to be at risk next time they can't balance the budget! If you want to go to bat on our behalf do so by all means.

MB Bowering

First, thanks for Eureka Report. I have been subscribing for some years.

After retiring as a woolgrower in 2000. I set up a DIY super fund. Having great interest but little knowledge of the share market, I relied on professional advice for many of my investments. Most of the investments were made into managed funds. I invested about 20% of funds myself. Slowly I learnt that many of my investments in blue chips were just a shadow of the managed funds investments. Except I was paying about 2% management fees to the funds.

My own investments have performed better than the funds, although of course they rose along with the tide up to the GFC.

Some professional advice turned out to be poorly researched, such as investing in Babcock & Brown.

The upshot of this is that I have come to the conclusion I can look after my money better than anybody else.

DIY superannuation has given me a great opportunity to do this, and it makes me more responsible as an individual in this society.

I also strongly feel that the investments in superannuation were a great backstop for the country in the aftermath of the GFC and have assisted in the strength of the economy up to now.

I am concerned that so many of the policies of the present Government have led to instability in our investment markets, that is depreciating the values of our investments.

I support your representation of the interest of DIY supannuation holders to Governament. All the best , we are depending on you.

S Circuitt

I was outraged that the $25k limits could be put super contributions last budget.

I am outraged that this latest attack to dilute SMSF and all for short term gains.

SMSF = PEOPLE SAVING SO AS NOT TO RELY ON PENSION=COMMON SENSE.

Breaks given to Super funds is peanuts compared to having people on the pension for 20 years!

There is nothing with this government that makes sense, neither does this.

My plea is to leave the SMSF system alone!

Is there a fund we can contribute to help lobby govt, against this?

Thanks for letting us have our say

M Walshe

The current DYI super has worked well since Peter Costello introduced it. I dont want it fiddled with.

I employ around 40 people so I am paying considerable amounts every month into the big super funds. Over the past 7 years most of the compulsory super I have paid for staff has been completely lost in fees and poor investment returns of hte big super funds. My staff would be much better off if I had paid that super into a bank account for each of them.

P Righetti

After reading your article I can’t help but think that the up coming election is a no-brainer for the opposition. Why aren’t they coming up with policies that reassure the Australian Public that their superannuation won’t be under attack under their leadership. Being rather cynical I tend to think it is because it also suits their purpose.

It isn’t news that superannuation is most people’s second largest investment, after the family home, but it is quickly loosing its appeal.

Stupidly the government hasn’t recognized that people are resourceful and will simply change direction, apart from their employer sponsored superannuation they can simply move to negative gearing outside superannuation thereby creating a tax benefit, and an investment that does not have the restrictions of superannuation. I wonder who would be able to take advantage of those strategies? Just a guess! Perhaps the high income earners currently under attack?

Just another couple of points, do they not recognize the value of self funded retirees? Sure there will be generations that if they are lucky and their superannuation is handled responsibly will have a retirement income that will meet their needs. Let’s not forget the majority of people able to contribute additional amounts into superannuation are doing it because under the current employer sponsored arrangements they will not have enough accumulated to do so, for no other reason that superannuation for them has not been part of their salary arrangements since the start of their working lives. However, those individuals are possibly now in the situation where they can afford to up their superannuation savings why should they be penalized for doing so? Are they second class citizens not worthy of a comfortable retirement provided by their own efforts?

The removal of the $50,000 limit for the over 50’s is a joke particularly given the proposed policy to allow it to continue for those who have accumulated less than $500,000 in superannuation. So they are saying an individual with $500,000 in savings is rich? Interesting concept indeed, particularly given that should a net present value be given for the amount of superannuation a politician would need to have accumulated to fund the level of retirement benefits they will receive makes this a joke. Of course they are much better citizens than the rest of Australia so they deserve it for their contribution to society.

Further I can’t quite get their lack of understanding about the most powerful tax collection mechanism available, GST. Guess what, self funded retirees pay GST, people who are on the dole pay GST, high income earners pay GST, possibly more than any other individual, people who fill their cars up at the service station pay GST, it always used to make me wonder how come the government is not actively doing something about the rising price of petrol, they must rub their hands together in glee every time there is an increase, every 11c the price goes up they get an extra 1c per litre, just work that one out. However, people who buy overseas goods via the internet do not pay GST, big mistake! Given the technology advances in recent years it would not be impossible to collect GST at point of sale, after all the money has to leave an account here in Australia, so make the banks work for their fees and start collecting it there. I also believe that a 1% increase in GST would be easier to swallow for most Australians than the attack they are putting on one of the countries greatest resources and put it on everything, its simple.

There are other holes in the system where stopping the gap would help them also but sorry I don’t have enough time, and if you have bothered to read to the end of this well thank you.

L Gibbs

Your Letter: I am writing to support your campaign against extra tax grabs from superannuation. Keep up the good work!

P Garner

In response to your article on the potential tax attack on super: I would like to condemn all sides of federal politics for continually tampering withall the super rules. I & my wife have just reached a critical point in our super savings life. We have finished raising our kids, around 50 years old & (were) set to increase our super savings considerably. Whilst it would be foolish to cut our (retirement savings)nose off to spite our face, our intentions will be scaled back because of the near term fiddling.

N Holmes

Can you suggest some guidelines when an offer is being made on a company and the share price has risen quickly and near to the price of the offer. How long does one hang in there?

P Atkins

This is extrordinary

To attack the only section of the superannuation industry that is securing self funding of retirement through far better returns over the period of the GFC in that face of delivering as surplus to a government as part of an election promise could be devastating.

Surely the motivation is in the face of a potential loss in the next election to put as many “reforms in place” that will have a major impact with no accountability for results of future actions is deplorable.

The initiatives that were put in place to overcome the impact of the GFC, not knowing the impact it would have on Australia, were commendable but now to make revenue grab from the SMSF to ensure a surplus in the face of falling revenue from the softening of other parts of the economy is not on.

We are the investors not the government.

To adopt a short term “Trading Strategy” playing with SMSF investment savings to cover the downturn in their “Portfolio” of reduced revenue through making the wrong call is not what they were voted in for.

This will down the track put more not less pressure on pensions and Government funded retirement not less.

Also one area that has remained quiet is “Big Super” the funds would welcome this pressure on SMSF and trustees disillusionments with the system may well put more money into mainstream industry and big superannuation funds.

Not a conspiracy but it’s starting to head in that direction.

We will get no support from the opposition they would welcome the extra revenue and blame Labour once they are in power.

This needs to be stopped in its tracks I support eureka in this initiative.

D Fraser

Ever since I started saving for my retirement some 40 years ago successive governments have changed the rules so many times I've lost count, mostly to my detriment.

But this governments policy and economic management is woeful beyond description......if they had a big picture plan rather than a focus on the stupid idea that a miniscule surplus will save the Nation, and had properly managed the various handouts and hastily tacked together schemes instead of squandering billions, they wouldn't be scratching around the hard earned funds of the very people who will save them billions in the future by not being on the aged pension. I often feel like giving my super away and getting some of my tax dollars back on the pension. These lying, thieving and incompetent so called 'managers' of the greatest country on earth can't be gone soon enough!

Please keep my identity confidential. I don't trust any of these bastards.

R Peberdy

With regards to Julia Gillard's thoughts on messing with SMSF plans, I have only one thing to say:

"Vote her out".

M Crabbe

Dear Mr Shorten,

Feeling utterly dismayed with the reports on your government's anticipated plans to further penalise DIY super funds, I feel compelled to voice my concerns. Your Government has been embarked on a very short-sighted but lethal assault on a wonderful scheme set up by your Party and the Howard Government. This will penalise hard-working Australians who have been determined to be independent in their retirement, avoiding being a burden on the Country. It has come at great cost to me and other superannuants.

I never complain about my personal circumstances but feel driven to tell you that I am not one of those 'rich' Australians who are being unfairly targeted and harangued by your Government. The old class war rhetoric is anathema to me, a former Labor voter. I am just a humble high school teacher who had tried to support my family and husband, who, years ago, suffered an horrific illness. He had to have his fingers and toes amputated and spent years trying to re-establish himself. He was an electrical design draftsman and engineer and went to study computer courses to enable him to work again. For a few years, he had a job but his health suffered. Our accountant advised us to set up a DIY fund because we would not have enough to live on in our retirement.

I'm not one of those public servants and politicians on a defined pension scheme!

The constant changes to superannuation cause so much unnecessary and needless stress to hard-working Australians and simply reflect the mismanagement of our finances by our Government. Listen to Nick Sherry's legitimate advice, a politician with the courage to make a stance despite any political fallout!

Please exercise equity and commonsense in your judgement on Superannuation.

Name withheld

As a Financial Adviser that assists clients in the SMSF space, I have been very impressed by the efforts of the "peak" body in the SMSF space in my industry - SPAA.

The CEO Andrea Slattery is a great lobbyist in Canbera - suggest you should provide your SMSF readers input to her as well.

G Krebs

Dear Alan, the Cooper Review gave DIY super a big tick. Rightly so, the system is working well.

Retirees entering the pension phase often need to 'clear the decks' (pay off remaining debt, especially mortgage) so it is essential that the capacity to withdraw a lump sum at the commencement of this phase be retained.

Similarly, the capacity to withdraw a lump sum consequent upon some financial disaster occurring after a pension has been commenced would seem to be a fundamental right - its their money!. Nannyism is rife in our current daily life. The current system delivers this flexibility in the pension phase.

Pensioners who have prudently accumulated a retirement lump sum under an obligatory system are continually threatened by shifts in the goal posts after they stop working. There is no evidence that lump sum retirees are doing other than paying off residual debt and using the remainder of their SGS savings to fund retirement - precisely as envisaged in the original scheme introduced by the Keating government, on advice by Dr Vince Fitzgerald. It ain't broke yet, but it could easily be.

R Gay,
Assoc Prof Finance, Monash University

Super has been a political plaything for too long. It's time for Government and the bureaucrats to recognise the purpose of super - to provide an income in retirement. Any other purpose or objective is shallow or misdirected and allows distortion of what looked like a well thought through plan when Keating and co initiated it.

People should continue to be encouraged to save through super. They should be discouraged from withdrawing lump sums that then deflect retirement income provision to the taxpayer.

My solution to this is;

1. to encourage participation via tax saving on contribitions and investment gains 2. tax any withdrawals except pension payments 3. lump sum withdrawals for any purpose other than payment of a death benefit to be taxed at non-concessional rates 4. death benefits paid to dependents to be taxed on a concessional basis

D Paviour-Smith

Hi Alan - My wife and I only recently set up a SMSF in December 2011 as we were completely dissatisfied with the funds we had with MLC - Mainly the fees we were paying and not knowing definatively where our investments were .

It was purely done not for taxation benefits but to decide with the use of an advisor how our funds are invested - To date this is working well and we are more than happy with the SMSF.

This Governement amazes us partyicularly its grab for dollars for short term political gain - a budget surplus.

We are positively aggainst any further impost on Supreannuation Funds and are against any further changes in this regard - After all it is our retirement we are trying to fund. This is what governemnts should be encouraging not taxing to the hilt but what would you expect from a Labor mob of misfit unionists.

W G Peacey

I have been in superannuation for over 30 years and over 20 in DIY And have recommended it to the rest of my family members, by stressing the fact that they will have to be able to fund their own retirement as the cookie jar will be empty in no time.

I feel that if the changes affect the ordinary working family that are trying to do the right thing by providing for themselves, the incentive will be to spend up big on overseas trips etc., and so will fall back on the government for support.

I understand that the government will not be able to fund all pensions in this aging society, so it would seem shortsighted to remove motivation to self save and fund same.

M Madeley

They're Highway Robbers with expert Spin and Wayne Swan doesn't know any better!

J Davies

As a financial planner I understand completely that superannuation is subsidised by the Government and therefore there is a cost to it. However, it is fair to say that negative gearing of properties is also subsidised by the Government and therefore also a cost to it. Now, I appreciate that a complete removal of tax incentives for negative gearing would decimate the property market. However, savings could be made by say, making only 50% of expenses tax deductible. Just like this year's 50% drop in the concessional super contribution!!

On another note, we need a much tougher line on Centreline unemployment (and probably other) benefits. The system is being rorted by thousands. We need a system where capable people who knock back a job don't get any benefits.

It is too easy not to work.

J Hebbink

Hands off our Super.

We paid taxes to get it in there, many of us did not take overseas or even local holidays to enable a little more to be tucked away for a rainy day.

We don't whinge and stick out our hand every time things turn tough.

We have not 'pissed our money up against a wall'.

We put up with both good and bad returns for a long time, don't mess with us, our future and those to whom we leave in our will.

Us baby boomers will now start enjoying our retirement and take the holidays and good times we never took before, even if that means drawing down cash.

Don't you dare even think of preventing us doing that!

Oh, and whilst I may not vote Labor, those who inherit our wealth (or what's left of it) will be told who thieved their inheritance.

Hands off our super.

D O'Flynn

As I am nearing retirement age I am very concerned about any changes to the DIY super rules.

I have worked hard all my life and paid my taxes and have prudently managed my own super scheme for over 15 years. This has given me a nice nest egg and I will not be a burden on the Government when I retire.

Any changes need to be very carefully considred and not used to shore up short term revenue shortfall resulting from the Governments mismanagement of their budgets.

Keep your hands off my money

B Johnsen

Superannuation was designed to lighten the public purse due to an aging demographic. It makes no sense to penalize those savers who have legitimately and not without sacrifice, planned for their retirement. It is an absolute disgrace that this government who is without integrity will grab for our hard fought super savings.

eureka members and indeed the entire electorate must unite and rebel against the tyranny and term ism of this government.

A Orr

The Gillard Government has already reduced the probability of many people being able to fund their own retirement; any further adverse changes would only increase this probability. It's well known the current social security benefits are unsustainable in the medium term, and to further reduce the prospect of people being able to fund their own retirement would be political suicide....as well as irresponsible. The Government is hell-bent on achieving a budget surplus for nought more than political reasons and, in the process, appears happy to destroy a great retirement providing system. The people to be hurt most by adverse changes to the current superannuation system would be Labour's 'famed' ""working families"; what a marvellous outcome for a Labour Government...!!

M Howse

Your Letter: no common sense thats the problem ,i am a baby boomer worked all my life never on the dole,paid for private health insurance for 40 years,worked in pivate sector no super for years government advises you to start your own super fund $1500 p.a at first over the years i have contributed the maxium or what i could afford, at one stage they said i earned to much and taxed 30% on contributions, i am happy to support my self iam ok give the government money to themore needy, but stop trying to change the rules

P Treneman

I am uneasy thinking about what may this government do to my SMSF. Sometime so worried and thinking of winding down. May be put my money in luxury holiday, expensive house and handover rest to my children. Use it in few years and then go on Old Age Pension. How about it?????

CM

It seems Government (of all persuasions) can't keep its hands off a big pot of money getting bigger. While they talk about the importance of reform and the need for stability of reforms in superannuation policy, the overriding principle remains - if it is large and growing, tax it. I accept that superannuation contributions have been generously treated and I could not complain if there was some increase in the tax collected or reduction in contribution limits, but I agree it is a shame that these enduring changes are made in response to a fleeting political imperative of no great consequence.

My main motivation in deferring consumption over many years is to enjoy a moderately comfortable self funded retirement leaving government to provide support to those who need it and were unable to save. There is nothing bad about this and it is a shame the government must first demonise people (greedy and rich) before taxing them further. I am neither of these.

It is important that we get adequate representation on this issue before a decision is taken.

J O'Dea

Dear Mr Shorten,

My Wife and I started a SMSF 3 years ago and we only have a small amount of Cash and Shares basically 50-50 because of the market volatility. We want to be self sufficent in our retiring years and not be a tax burden.

We were extremly pleased at the opportunity to provide at least $50,000 a year each into our SMSF but have been horrified at the changes that have been brought on by the Rudd / Gillard governments. Your Government appears to be discouraging the possibility of self funded retirees which in our opinion is longer term madness considering the aging population and I'm a baby boomer as some say.so will be effected sooner rather than later.

We can cope where we are now and happy to go along to "do our bit" but to change the tax rate on super contributions to 30% from 15% if infact if that what is being mooted really defeats the purpose of saving for our retriement.

Please reconsider.

R Taylor

I'm responding to your request for input in the latest eureka report.

I am concerned about Alan Koehler and the eureka report going into the news stable, News corp is a terrible corporate structure, designed purely to provide lots of power and money to a family. The fact that this family has denied responsibility for their ownership of the illegality and abuse in the UK newspaper market is unacceptable.

The money the family extracts from the corporate structure and businesses is also unacceptable.

I find this first request for !action! A bit disappointing

I did love Alan and his graphs and so sad he has turned to the dark side, but would rather move on.

Can I get a refund of my unused eureka subscription please?

Best wishes to Alan and his journey with news corp, I am sure it will turn out as expected.

M Gould

My husband and I have just recently set up our own SMSF. We have worked really hard over the last odd 25 years to get where we are financially. The lack of control over our superannuation savings, the poor performance of the managed fund, the maladministration by fund employees and our desire to finance retirement independently of government assistance prompted our decision to set up our SMSF. To take on the responsibility of running our SMSF has been a big step and has involved much time and research.

We strongly disagree that the Gillard Labor government should now turn and try to control our hard earned savings. We have no faith in Labor's financial administration controls. It is our asset, not government's and we must have the right to control it.

D Cole

I left school at 16 I got an apprenticeship and set up my own business at 28 I have employed staff and have trained 4 apprentices . I have worked endlessly 12-15 hour days 6 and 7 days a week at the end of the day I am asking myself what a bloody fool I have been .I`am 60 years of age I trusted a financial adviser who lost have my hard earned money in super in the last crash. Now I have my own SMSF and to be quite honest I am wondering why I`am bothering the laws change every 6 months. I was trying to be self funded but the Govt keeps changing the goal post so screw them I have decided to close down sack all employees and apprentices spend what little I have and put my hand up for welfare. This Govt is ripping the heart out of small business and self funded people they have no idea what the real world is like.

G McErvale

We Self Funded Retirees need expert representation in Canberra - a man like Alan Kohler, Robert Gottliebsen, James Kirby or Bruce Brammal. You know the issues, you know the challenges. You also know that the majority of Self Funded Retirees, ourselves included, are not good at making ourselves heard.

Concentrate your Lobby on the 3 Independent MPs who can make or break the Labor Government. And if they get behind the Self Funded Retirees, with that they will repair all the trust that they lost in their Electorates when they put Labor in Government in 2008. We will be good at getting behind a Eureka Report led Lobby. Please gentlemen, take the lead.

L & C Eory

I have been saving in my DIY Super Fund for most of my working life to plan for a modest but comfortable retirement and now this Gillard Government is trying to take that effort away from me. They should take a good look at the defined benefit scheme of politians and public servants before they touch our super which we have worked so hard to build up. It is just awful. The Shortens of this world, who have never worked in the real world, just do not understand that it is people like us who do not want to go on the Government Pension. They should keep their sticky fingers off our hard earned savings.

C Moss

Dear Editor and Dear Alan,

Reference: A Super Call to Eureka Readers

I am also a holder of a small DIY fund of which my husband and I are trustees.

After losing 38% of the capital amount (ie all SGC contirbutions made) in the retail superfund. ie a NIL return and 38% of the contributions lost in the first 3 years of our coming to Australia, we understood enough and created our own DIY SMSF, with the guidance of our tax accountant. Having come to Australia in the late 40's, it is imperative that we save for our retirement and not lose the super contributions to mis-manged retail funds. Our basic thought was that no way can I lose 38% of my contributions. Forget any return on it. Atleast I can place the monies in term deposits and grow the fund slowly. Also we were encouraged to tip in more via salary sacrifice (which Julia Gillard / Bill Shorten have now reduced to $25k). Instead of encouraging savings this government, after reckless and wasteful spending is now out to wreck and control our hard earned savings.

They are now talking of stopping lump sum withdrawals. Its our super - who are they to stop how we use it? The old should not get an old age pension?

Why? They have worked hard to build what this country is today. They have paid their taxes - funds which help run the country. People not earning a dime - refusing to work can collect from Centrelink, but folks diligently working, paying taxes, running their own SMSF, are to be stopped and controlled in how they utilise their own funds when they retire? Why - just incase they need the old age pension?

PLEASE STOP THEM

I absolutely agree to what you say - how can we stop this government? Please can you start a paper where we can sign our names and give one voice to oppose this? I am not savvy on how to do this, but with your knowledge please start something. So we can join in as one body. It can then be advertised mty articles on the Business Spectator and other places DIY funds use. Can you then present us as one voice against Bill Shorten. Also, can the Opposition (Tony Abott) be rallied to reverse all these changes if elected?

Please do anything you feel is rationally possible and we are all behind you.

Devise a way we can give our names and signatures and we can then take this to parliament.

P Payne

Thanks for James Kirby's article in Eureka Report 3rd October "A Super Call to Eureka Readers". I am 61, have a SMSF with my wife, both still working at about 75% capacity, and both have just entered TTR.

We have spent the last 5 years carefully planning our retirement years so as to be fully self funded, and I might add, have been strongly encouraged by the government to so. During that time we have transferred 90% of our assets into our Super Fund.

What really annoys me, and I was temped to use much stronger language than "annoys" but will act with restraint, is when governments suddenly change the rules mid stream. It seems they will use every incentive to get you to "sign-up", then once they have got you "locked in", they have you at their mercy and can rape and pillage to their hearts content. If any private business acted with the same tactics, they would be hauled before ASIC and prosecuted without mercy. Imagine the government's self righteous response if the Banks (horror of horrors) used similar tactics. I don't even have to close my eyes to hear Mr Swan castigating them in the strongest of terms.

Could I encourage you to continue your articles, perhaps even organizing some sort of online poll or direct action in the form of letter or emails, to let Mr Shorten know very clearly, that 1 million eyes (and votes) are watching him very, very, closely and the deceit, half truths and even outright lies told by this government will catch up with them. People generally do not know how to go about such direct action, and to have it done in a coordinated manner would be ideal.

No, we are not super wealthy, our fund is under $1 million, we live in an old 1950's asbestos & tile home in a very average suburb, and have worked all our lives, not one day on welfare in 40 years.

Please keep us alert to any further developments.

THANKS

O Hawley

I am a member of the small business community and an entrepreneur. Over my working life I have risked my personal assets forsaken income to build several new businesses primarily focused on helping corporations capitalise on new technologies. One of my businesses qualified as a member of the Top

100 Queensland private companies.

I have created hundreds of new jobs and prosperity for my employees and business partners, which in turn has generated many millions of dollars in tax payments.

Throughout this time I have focused on building the businesses and reinvesting the profits to drive growth, rather than accumulating retirement funds in super.

As all entrepreneurs know, not all new ventures are a success and a recent business failure has depleted my personal assets.

I am now late in my career and have insufficient funds to retire.

My retail super fund had produced little or no real growth for a number of years so like many of your members I decided to establish a SMSF and take responsibility for funding my own retirement.

My first disappointment was to lose the $50,000 contribution cap I was relying on to accelerate super accumulation. The government has now imposed income tests that increase the tax payable on super contributions. We can be sure this desperate ineffective government will continue their attack on real "working Australians" to pay off their squandering and redistribute wealth to the "needy".

If the government keeps blocking my attempts to accumulate super in favour of short term tax receipts I will become another mouth for them to feed and support in retirement.

But, I doubt the fat cats on their massive government pensions and allowances would lose much sleep over their "working Australian" brethren who fund them.

M Chesswas

I am a DIY superannuant.

I am gratified that Eureka has, consistently, supported SMSFs against the industry and retail funds management and lobbying power as well as highlighting their relatively poor performance. I had supposed industry funds would better represent their members than they do but I guess their sheer size and need for professional management brings with it the huge temptation for the managers to act in their own interests to the detriment of their members. Then, too, many carry baggage from their union days for example Cbus over dependence on property. One expects retail funds to act in their promoters' interests just as managed funds do. And to pay commissions until they are outlawed.

I am disappointed that SMSF's do not have the lobbying and organising capability that their total combined funds would justify. Where, I ask, is availability of cheap insurance that industry and retail funds can offer their members? My wife and I are too old for life insurance though we could do with travel insurance. My son and his wife, also members of my SMSF, do have life cover but at retail rates.

My SMSF is now 12 years old, but before that, for many years, I ran an office fund, including my wife's and my money, nearly the same as I later ran my own. In that time I have seen all the rule changes. Investment rules [30/20].

Benefit limits. Maximum as well as minimum pensions. Keating 1996 then Howard/Costello [2007] signaled improvement, especially the latter, though

2007 stopped me running an APRA regulated fund with all my children and their spouses as members. Personally [and I think many agree] I think 2007 was too generous. It made sense to abolish the reasonable benefit limits and inquiry into the source of the funding for over 60s pensions [was or was not a concession claimed for the contributions?]. But no tax on the fund? Happy to take it but would have accepted 15%, indeed would accept 15%. Or, if the idea was to make more retirees independent of social security, 15% on income attributable to a member above a threshold or on a member's funds above a capital threshold. It cannot be fair [ I hope is agreed] to tax members pensions to the extent they are attributable to after tax contributions as mine are. Doing that suggests partial withdrawal of capital in lieu except that the current rules require the current year's minimum pension. Taxation of unrealised gains, too, would be unfair.

The present unseemly raid, if Bruce's worst case happens, is pure opportunist class politics not rational public policy. Bruce's suggestion the new taxes might be retrospective is positively the most reprehensible, and unfair action any government could take. Surely electoral outrage would follow?

Perhaps it will be confiscation of property without compensation and not taxation.

For myself I am carefully reassessing what funds I need in the remainder of my life. Very fortunately, since I abandoned managed funds forever and equities for the foreseeable future, I have retrieved the GFC losses as well as paid our pensions. My wife has a sufficiency of funds for her life. My conclusion is I have more than sufficient for my limited life expectancy and the excess funds would be better employed in paying down my kids' mortgages than bolstering Swan's budget. So if, following the ongoing debate, I conclude the nasties will be draconian I have plans to withdraw a very substantial amount ahead of any announcement, including, specifically this years earning to date attributable to me. I have tailored the SMSF trust deed to facilitate instant withdrawal on this basis.

I commend to others giving careful attention to Deed provisions to enable speedy withdrawal of funds. This is needed also when a recipient of a pension lacking a reversionary beneficiary nears death.

S Begg

With reference to SMSFs.

I must be like thousands of other aging Australians. We are people who want to stand on our own feet, look after our own retirement, for better of for worse and to do so under a stable, sensible, reliable system of regulation.

We are not getting something for nothing - I'm sure that many are like me -

22 years of following the markets, learning the investing and trading skills to protect and, hopefully grow, my savings - 22 working years in which the evenings of TV and sport give way to study, reading and thinking.

We do it for ourselves and also so as not to be a drain on Australia and our children's economy. The super system which government and people like me have build has been an envy of the world. Well done Keating and Howard and us all.

It's unbelievable that a government can be so incredibly short sighted as to begin to white ant the system. Whittle down the confidence and certainty of the established system. Shame on you - Politicians with your guaranteed over generous pensions. This is one mistake you don't need to make - the stupidity of it all turns me speechless....

F Holmer

I read your appeal for protection of the SMFS system with interest. I hope the Eureka Report has not fallen into the trap of thinking all your readers are wealthy, so hope to see more thought given to those who have saved way beyond their means and reached a retirement fund total "just beyond the pension assets cutoff". By all means go to Canberra and try to change the tax grab, but if you are just representing the really well off you will get no-where. They will look for the votes of "the mortgage belt battlers" (who can afford all the latest gadgets, smart phones and even tattoos and thus far have never had to deal with double digit interest rates, yet think they are doing it hard).

  The one glimmer of hope is that some of the major super funds are looking at more choice of fund allocation with much lower costs. Maybe an end of the "gravy train" (which currently potentially sees the fund take around 25% of your pension payout annually while potentially losing massive amounts of your

savings) may be slowed somewhat. Given that the SMFS systen also has no shortage of agents lining up to charge just as much for "advice" (past performance is no guarantee of future perfornance), perhaps some coverage of emerging alternative pension funds, such as an Australian Super pension product with more control and an ING Direct offering may be of interest.

Some critical analysis of these would be valuable to me and performance before I move fron a transition to retirement mode to fully retired.

A Cross

The long term damage this Govt is doing to our country is an utter disgrace and just shows IT HAS NO IDEA of running the country To move goalposts so often proves W.Swan in particular is way out of his depth. There is no point in me listing off the BAD things he has done as they are all mentioned by Business Spectator . But it really started with the $950 stimulus handouts which was nothing but 'politcal'. So what if we had gone into recession we soon would have been out of it with China buying commodities "at the bottom" .

The damage done to our farmers with the live cattle industry under so much oressure AND now live sheep in a mess.

The constant pandering to minority groups is appalling and must look so WEAK

to our trading partners and has done irrepairable damage.  NOW

R Negus

I agree with Nick Sherry. Any tax take from the superannuation system should be targeted at the defined benefit superannuation system for public servants and politicians. They have routed the system for far too long. The only part of everyone else's super that can be fairly targeted is the taking of a lump sum in lieu of a pension. I understand that some people are taking the lump sum, nominally gifting it to their offspring and then going on the pension.

The offspring then return the lump sum at least in part in the form of undeclared cash. In order to reduce the problem a limit on the lump sum take could be introduced. Eg no lump sum except in extenuating circumstances below say $1,000,000.

J McCann

I have long advised my adult children that voluntary contributions to super over their life time would always end up a poor investment as it would inevitably be looted every decade or so a Government needing to fund irresponsible expenditure. The more you work and save through your super, the more you would end up plundered. Moreover as the national retirement pool grows, there is the certainty it will be increasingly targetted as the Government's honey pot for directed investment and tax revenue.

Until the generous tax payer guaranteed defined benefit scheme for the public servants is ended and they are treated the same as the rest of us, they will keep advising Government that any tax incentive fpr someone to save for their own retirement, is a rort.

R Mackenzie

To Whom It May Concern

I am now a semi retired, self funded retiree. For the last 15 years I have been aware of the need to plan an prepare for retirement. I have done this while raising 3 well adjusted children who are now contributing members of

Australian society.  I do not consider it to be reasonable to change

superannuation rules/concessions/taxation now that I have reached my stage of life. Because of my age I do not have strong prospects of reimployment so it is totally unreasonable for changes to be introduced to the superannuation system that would disadvantage me when I have spent the last 15 years preparing for NOW!

Because of my planning and sacrifices over the last 15 or so years, I am now not a burden on the public purse. And I don't want to be! If the superannuation rules are now changed so I can no longer provide for myself and my wife as planned, I will be really pissed off! It would honestly make a joke of my last 15 years of work, frugality, and planning. I do not have so many options at my stage of life to recover from any unplanned taxes or expenses. So if they were introduced I don't know what I would do exactly, but I do know I would be a real pain in the arse for whomever caused my life to change so negatively after such a lengthy period of planning and preparation.

I find it hard to understand why people who plan and sacrifice to be self sufficient are the target of Governments' that want money to support those that have done little to to prepare for the future?

B West

What sort of savings will the Labour government achieve by these cuts with Superannuation? It would only encourage the thinking that Superannuation is just not worth it, by the people that desperately need it the most. The governments really NEEDS to produce incentives to people to save for their retirement. The times of the Age Pension being there for us all have long gone. And is there any wonder that the number SMSF's is growing every year, we are finally being responsible for our own futures, in control and aware of

what is to come.  But for how long are we able to do so?

This budget surplus might look good when it is announced, but will be overshaowded by the after effects that will be felt in the future.

B & J Abbott

Thanks for your efforts on our behalf. My husband and I set up our super fund in 1978. We could see that the government pension would have to come down when we were at retirement because of the increased numbers looking to draw a government pension.

We have always run the fund to finance our retirement and indeed we have achieved this.

Until several years ago, the ability of high net worth individuals to contribute large sums to super was a very generous concession. Perhaps a cut-off point, such as the value of the fund, could be set where a limited amount of contribution can be made.

Or, all super funds pay a small percentage of tax on their income over a certain cut-off level.

Also, if the government gets stuck into super funds, it should have some overall tax paid by family trusts, which escape a lot of tax. Problem is, lots of high income earners and politicians have these and won't want to touch them. If they are really just to protect family assets from bankruptcy and divorce, they should be happy to pay an overall tax on the income of the trust, even say 5 - 10%.

Let's face it, basically they are to avoid tax.

L Woollams

Even the Labor party's own faithfull have declared that attacking the self managed super funds of ordinary Australians ( approx one million people) is unacceptable - and I will say un Australian.

Former ACTU secretary Bill Kelty's warning to the Gillard Government to stay away from tax changes to superannuation in its search for new revenue is tantamount to closing the door after the horse has bolted.

The cancellation of tax deductions for concessional contributions over $25000 is a massive tax hike designed to encourage people away from looking after themselves in retirement and drive them to a deficit building Government for pension support.

This profligate attack on the hard earned savings and well being of the Australian people beggars belief.

J Trudgian

After being "skinned" for years by the big retail funds I set up my own SMSF in the late 90s. A fantastic concept which gives people who were interested a high level of control over their own financial future. With this empowerment, the opportunity to be in charge and make investment decisions is a win-win-win for the economy, the individual, and the government. SMSFs were strengthened by Howard government legislation. Then along came the Labor then Labor-Green governments. Despite the best terms of trade for 140 years the current government has little more to show than record budget deficits and a growing national debt.

To scramble for more money to waste the government is looking for soft targets. The mining industry turned out to be a bit of a polecat as Kevin Rudd will attest. The Carbon tax was a bit easier given the self righteousness and moral superiority of "saving the planet" that came attached. Next the SMSFs. Run by the rich, the greedy and the self serving, according to our political masters. People who must be brought down to earth and contribute to the common good. A real soft target for Shorten, Swan and the rest of the class war warriors.

The pension system will never work fairly until politicians and public servants fall under the same jurisdiction as the rest of us in regard to pension policy. Labor regards those with more than 500k in a SMSF as being "wealthy" To provide an SMSF supernatant with the same level of income as a former government employee on defined benefit superannuation, it would take millions in a SMSF. The hypricisy is rank.

The constant attacks on SMSFs is a disgrace. It is little more than the feckless and profligate persecuting and stealing from the hard working and thrifty knowing they have defined, tax payer funded pensions. Perhaps the growing numbers of SMSFs can form a block like the mining industry that will behave more like a body "polecat" which will keep the jackals and hyenas at bay!! There has to be some kind of bipartisan agreement to leave our hard earned alone to provide certainty and confidence for those who have worked hard and saved and for those who continue to do so.

JB

I am a practisiing public accountant specialising in SMSF and as usual horriifed of what this government is capable of buggering up. All my clients are either in retirement or in near it. Their tampering may affect us today but you can rest assured that all accountants will band together and reduce any tax to a minimum whatever the government imposes. I have spoken to many accountants and they are preparing for an onslaught from the government but it will be nothing to the onslaught people will give them.

These people do not have the ability to outhink te smartest brains in the country and it will come at great moral and physical cost to the government.

I am not at liberty to discuss what is proposed but you can assure Mr Shorten the sights are set on him and the industry will destroy him, his governemt and any ambition he may have to be a future prime minister.

This is not a threat but an actual attacke that will eventuate and the avalanche will not be able to be repelled.

Please use your influence with the governemnt because it will be a catastrophic decision by the government otherwise.

AF

Superannuation, once the preserve of the thrifty but now a mystery. It started as a good idea, was implemented by accountants with a balance between government fund raising and a tax concession, noticed by governments and the tax office as a source of revenue or a loss of tax, hyjacked by the white shoe commission agents and financial advisors when made compulsory, regulated, restructured, controlled and convoluted until it lost its way and sense of purpose which was to encourage all workers to save for their retirement rather than rely on the government pension. Now it is a fee feast for all involved in trying to beat the system, get more for less from the system, turning it into an estate planning tool, a tax saving device, a tax free income scheme, a budget balancing device,and all that only those with deep pockets can utilise while neglecting the original purpose stated above.

And who are the winners and losers in this constantly changing, government regulated system? Clearly the winners are those with hugh wealth which can be transferred into this wonderful concessionally taxed haven of retirement while the losers are Australia at large and the low earning workers who scrap by with a little above the government pension level of retirement funds. I have no problem with people retiring with hugh sums and congratulate them for working hard to accumulate a fortunate retirement. What I do object to is their riding the concessionally taxed superannuation system designed to encourage savings for a moderate retirement, and not an all in investment fund sharing the same tax concessions. If the government sees the need to regulate the superannuation system then why do they not come clean and say; yes, we want everyone to save for their retirement and we will assist that saving to a level which we feel is appropriate for a moderate retirement.

Those fortunate enough to save more than this level can do so but above the stated level there will be no tax concessions, and further, medicare will apply. What a boost to government revenues and at no serious cost as this excess wealth would otherwise be taxed outside superannuation. Immediately all the contribution caps, limits, small details on ages, working hours and many other rules would be surperflous. Pages of legislation cut out, everyone now able to contribute as much as they like, how and when they want subject to a minimum employer contribution. All this frenzied contribution of course is controlled by a simple maximum benefit level per member determined and indexed by goverenment, set to provide a comfortable level of above moderate retirement. Most workers would of course never reach this level but can aspire to do so while the well paid and self employed can arrange to easily reach this level. Once the level is attained either by contributions and/or fund earnings then any earnings above the limit level would be taxed at the top marginal rate of income tax plus medicare levy on the basis that the funds could otherwise be held personnally by the member and subject to a higher tax than in the superfund. This would prevent transferring surplus assets into the concessionally tax super fund. A simple system with benefits for government and members while they stay within the limits of the system.

Go on Tony, Julia or whom ever is up there, give it a try and see how well it would work. It could not be worse than the present complexity.

Many thanks, QED

P Woodhill

The article "A super call to Eureka readers" left me flat guys.

A call to what? In support of your recent pieces, we should not hesitate to utilise the collective power of the Eureka readership for organised feedback/crticism of these mooted government changes. At the same time, we need to be finding political allies. How does one get involved with a DIY Super "Users Group"? Any ideas?

C Lehmann

Thank you for the oppurtunity to vent my spleen. Maybe in doing same it will help my blood pressure.

Superannuation.Thanks to both political parties particularly Keating and Costello a reasonable system has been created.Here ends the good news.

Lets briefly look at both the society side and the professional positions.What is the number of social security recipients 25% made up of those who openly brag how they have shuffled their retirement lump sums between secret invesments with family and friends receiving the income back in brown paper bags etc or world trips, new cars or other ways of reducing capital to ensure the full pension and benefits.As a couple who receive nil pension and support ourselves on a modest super pension it cuts a bit.It also makes you reflect why you spent less than many friends who now say how "lucky"you are.It is remarkable how many Australians[not only pensiners ] believe it is the responsibility of all forms of government to provde for them,unmarried mothers, child minding etc the list goes on and on.

Then we cross to the so called professionals.Retail fund managers to gloat when they notify the fantastic profits they made for you last year.forgetting of course to take into account their fees and charges.What other business could report a result in this way?.Union funds directed by failed politicians and union reps most without a modicum of real business experience and who grease the palm of one political party and dare we say who hold government only because of this support.Back scratching?Did i hear rightly that CPA`s are suggesting annual pensions and no lump sums.Could this also be self interest to prevent superannuants taking their whole balance in a lump sum and therefore no more lucrative tax returns and annual filings etcFinally we have the government funds and who cannot marvel at their business successes,Peter Costello`s effort to fill the black holes for unfunded liabilities,levies on ratepayers to fund bloated executives unfunded super also.Please stop now John.

Finally Swannie sorry the Treasurer and those Ministers creating the current future budget black holes[can they get anywhere near their estimates of insulation, school buildings, broadband etc right].Just as well they were not in private enterprise ,no bonus and unemployed.So who does the treasurer look to.SMSF of course.Representative of what 20% or less of voters and without real organised leadership when the retail and union funds who should support them appear more interested in self preservation.

The answer in the socialist red book is to tax these SMSF upstarts and make everybody equal after all they don`t appear large enough in numbers to influence an election result or do they?.

Give it to them.

J Mcewan

Dear Mr. Shorten,

    How is it fair and equitable that I have to work hard and study the markets to obtain a 4-5% return on my assets while the public service and politicians make no comparable effort and receive a guaranteed 10-15% which my taxes provide! Talk about being screwed!

G Nice

Dear Mr. Kohler,

It was with some consternation, that I watched the video and separate article on superannuation in today's edition of the Eureka report.

It would appear that because my wife and I have accumulated a reasonable amount of capital, do not receive a government pension, that we could be fair game for this particular insidious government that has re-introduced class warfare.

We make all our own investment decisions but all paperwork including tax and compliance is done by a professional Trust Company.

I am currently reading "THE WIZARD OF LIES" a book about Bernie Madoff and I believe that this government is operating a giant ponzi scheme similar to that perpetrated by Madoff.

As we and people in the same position as us are not represented formally in discussions on the subject, it would be greatly appreciated if both you and your publication could make our worries known to the government.

R Korn

SMSF's have been the success they are, because the wise in the population know the merits of work and saving for their independent future. Past governments have also seen the merit in encouraging Australians to save for their retirement. Wise heads long ago could foresee the day when the aged pension would become an impossible financial burden for this country and enabled individuals, by legislation, to save and manage whatever resources they could within the guidelines laid down by successive governments - all of whom acknowledged the merits of the Australian superannuation system, especially the SMSF's.

Now, due to poor financial management on the part of current governments, often with the creed of "Why work for a living when you can vote for a living", in union with the "I Want it All Now" section of society, these greedy souls believe they are entitled to grab the savings of the frugal elderly and those approaching, or in retirement, by making wholesale changes to a system that has often been besieged with government inspired meddling in the past. Only this time, it is appearing more like a "snatch & grab" of the

  retirement savings of mature Australian citizens. (Who, I might add, have also paid their taxes throughout their working life, while saving for their retirement in order not to be a burden on the State.)

Governments & politicians around the world are reaping the consequences of their poor management decisions, it would be hoped that Australians will stay with the ballot box, as they did in Queensland recently, and not revert to the streets, as Europe is currently doing. But Australians also know when enough is enough, and the meaning of a fair go. Cross that line and things could very well turn nasty.

The ballot box waits in judgement.

N Cannon

I have a very significant sum in Superannuation which has been subsidised by the Australian tax office.

I saved because I earned a high income and lived comfortably but not excessively.

I am now 60 and all my Super earnings are tax free. I believe this is totally inequitable and that my Super should be taxed , but concessionally at 15% before the Howard Govt changes to benefit the better off.

We have an aging population with an ever increasing health costs. We do need to have higher taxation and it is only fair that the more affluent section of the population should pay more because we have more money and can afford to live very comfartably even if our Super earnings are taxed at 15%..

I Arthur

Furious with Shortens approach to super..You made the point that PJK and Hawkie with Fergusons help developed the whole system and these short sighted bastards are attempting to destroy it to create a crummy budget surplus to achieve some credibility with the public they have effectively turned their back on. I understood Super was intended to take strain off the overall social security, but maybe I am somewhat naive.Thought Nic Sherry's idea was super.Bring those individuals in the public service and attendant areas back to the 9% level of the hoy polloi.Actually I thought all those people received fairly hefty salary rises just recently.Dont think many folk understand the orogin of the Future Fund.viz.to cover the massive unfunded committment in the public service.Realise all the terrific people at Eureka understand but I think Joe Public is pretty much in the dark and the ALP is very keen to keep them that way.

T Drew

Alan, I've been a subscriber for many years now and in general like what I get. I would assume you and Robert G run Private Super Funds like I do ? I am 72, retired but still very active and not interested in giving some big fund my hard earned money.

I worked in my own business for many years and sold 8 years ago.All my funds are in my DIY fund, if this is endangered ,what choices do I have ? When will the planned changes likely start ?

I use RSM Bird as my tax agents, who are good ,but depend on what they read in the press ,they don't seem to hear much in advance. Can you find out more specifics in advance ?

You are now in the same boat, having sold Eureka Report and the only difference between us is that I am fully retired.

What do I want- basically no change.

Question is what can you actually do to help ? Only you can answer that ??

Basically find out the Gov't hit list and change that in our favour. That's what we need from you .

You should put on your hob-nailed boots and get stuck into Shorten, because he does seem to respond to political pressure ,as he's ambitious , whereas Swan and largely Gillard have gone as far as they can go, and are defending the status quo.

Whether Swan and Gillard listen to Shorten, I cannot tell, as he's competition and would step on their heads in a flash to get ahead. I think he sees himself as a 2nd Bob Hawke.

Swan is motivated by "budget surplus", no other Treasurer in the world worries about that, with all the changing world circumstances You say "tell me what you can do ?" Publicize the intended imposition on DIY funds and hope the Coalition come to support this ? How about a public forum with Shorten ,Turnbull and ?? that is debated on air television or in the press?

N Riemer

SMSF's need to have their own association and lobby accordingly

P Malone

I am greatly concerned with the potential government interference with changing short term rules for a long term investment vehicle.

As investors trying to look after our own future because we have the belief that no-one else will look after us, we spend a lot of time investigating the structures and investments that will hopefully be funding our retirement. We do not initiate these decisions lightly as they super fund instrument itself is not very flexible to changing rules as is the investment choices sometimes. This adds additional risk to our investment returns or at worst increases our administration burden which appears to be high enough to just have control over the investments that will provide our own future income.

I have persisted many years with managed super investments and after 25 years of contributing funds have seen my balance equivalent to my 10 year balance.

It was time to try to control my own destiny so I set up a SMSF. Now it looks like the government may do the same exercise to my SMSF by implementing different rules that will impact our decisions already executed.

The role of the government is to establish fair rules by which we should operate in society and then monitor and enforce those rules. It should not be to pander to influential business areas of the community to their gain. As citizens of Australia we should have the right to be independent and manage our affairs as such. The government needs to look at it fairness and true intent of its policies and not hide behind rhetoric and spin doctor babble, such as the carbon tax, MRRT and other policy decisions. Keep it simple, keep hands out of the process as much as possible, minimise paperwork, set strict guidelines and police them fairly. Don't go for your cash grab and then try to redistribute the funds as you see fit (Carbon tax, MRRT are examples of welfare grabs). Also stop creating false investment strategies that are not fundamentally good to society that just create false markets.

Examples include people negative gearing things to claim a tax deduction that has no real potential return but at least the salesman has made a killing selling the property based on the negative gearing principle. The scalpers are still touring perth every month trying to get people to invest in properties. They can do the deal for you in one day. Tell you how much you can borrow, assign you the property, arrange the finance, do the legals and lodge your tax variations forms. This is what the government should be focusing on, not attacking people that are genuinely trying to invest for their own future.

Anyway, I am too incensed at the though of additional government meddling in my SMSF to continue my letter.

Lets go back to the old days when the Greens motto was "keep the bastards honest".

G Van Vlemen

Editor,

We need to speak out, this Government obviously has our DIY Super Funds in its sights. We have done the right thing by working hard and putting our hard earned cash into funding our retirement, all in accordance with the rules set down by the Government. We now hear of plans by this socialist leaning Gillard government to share our wealth with those who haven't saved for retirement. First they limit how much we can put in, then they lift the tax rate, they will be lifting the retirement age next so we can't get at it!

The Liberal opposition needs to get a back bone as well, and speak out against any further changes to superannuation. We're right with you Eureka Report lets speak out!!

T & L Gilchrist

Alan and James - the following is based on experience of ten years of regular visits to Canberra to lobby all levels of the political hierarchy with simple, practical and personal examples of value for money lies.

What changed the field from our sustained work was that the national organisation whose board I was on, represented tens of thousands of voters, all of whom lived in the bush. It's a ground-swell as one member noted. The effort you are proposing has no city/country divide and so every lower and upper house representative is a target with a constituency.

FYI the sector we were advocating for was the arts in regional Australia. One of our great wins was winning over Wilson Tuckey who understood that his constituents valued the creative sector highly as a quality of life issue. He got behind us and also joined Parliamentarians for the Arts.

For consideration: a two pronged approach:

One: aimed at the heart of Government - lobby using power and influence of the Eureka subscribers (why not enlist subscribers to Business Spectators as well - to add weight to the numbers). It is the number of votes the subscribers represent, the social media response through sites like change.org that will resonate with members of all parties - and of course the independents.

With a well planned and sustained campaign using of short case study after short case study directed at Canberra - when the Houses are sitting. This will demonstrate the impact that the super roller coaster has had on investment decisions, planning for the future and the degree of uncertainty currently felt by those in or approaching retirement. The older Australia study that Treasury undertook under Costello may well provide some useful background as well. This sustained approach if focussed on Ministers, shadow ministers and the independents will provide life for the public debate that will spread outside the Eureka network.

Two: using the enormous power of your site(s) each of your subscribers should be writing and emailing their local member (if Labor) or Government Senators telling their own personal stories and frustrations. The target needs to be Government members of both houses. The subscribers should also be encouraged to use information from one or two case studies to illustrate their point, but it will be the personal stuff that will resonate.

The case studies should be diverse, reflect DIY fund participants whose assets are of various sizes, and the difficulties that Trustees of funds have had with keeping up with the ever changing nature of the superannuation rules. Some Kohler graphs will also help illustrate points.

These arguments need to be tight, well presented and measured. Angry correspondence will just be dumped/ignored. It's worth remembering the old adage, 'you catch more flies with honey'.

What's going on is the equivalent of a grand final in full swing where the whistle is blown every 30 seconds for a rule change. Or as a friend cleverly described in another tortured metaphor, 'it's like building a plane while its flying'.

I think the damage to the long term public purse of so many of us baby boomers (I'm a young one) requiring government support rather than living independently on self sustaining super is more than alarming. Frankly it demonstrates a real immaturity of thought from Government.

A Farrant

I have worked very long hours in my own business to basically "get ahead"

and did eventually get "enough" to fund my retirement for my wife and myself.

In this current financial climate I am still fortunate enough to still work part-time as I see my DIY Super Fund fluctuate wildly. Now I have to tolerate the antics of Gillard, Swan and Shorten to bring in a surplus budget for the first time since John Howard . This is simply to make themselves look good but at the expense of people such as myself who have paid large amounts of tax and interest to achieve a modest position of "self suffiency"--actions that those in the Labour Government could not possibly understand or contemplate. There is a strong chance that my allocated pension will now be taxed and if that is the case I will terminate my Super Fund and run the investments as a business and then perhaps draw an aged pension. Power to you in your attempts to influence the Government. Regards,

N Bray

Dear Eureka Report, hooray, someone on "our" side, finally. My partner & I have had our own DIY Super Fund since 1998, with the intention of providing for our own retirement, expecting no government pension support. We never married, putting the cost of a big expensive party into our Super instead.

Geepers, a big wedding is the same price as a house deposit.... I will be 55 this year, himself 55 next year. We've recovered fairly well from the effects of GFC, when our hard-earned super slumped horribly no mater how well "diversified" we thought our asset allocation was. I'm truly sick & tired of Julia & Co (Shorten?) making the assumption that we're going to take our lump sums, spend it quickly, then line up for a government pension. No thanks!

I'm better than that, eg more honorable and besides, the government age-pension wouldn't keep me in frocks annually, let alone shoes, bags and fragrance.

We have worked hard for what we have managed to accumulate. Julia & Bill, leave my DIY Super alone! I had kids before Baby Bonus, in fact I lost two jobs with successive employers due to my pregnancies (I was pregnant, not

brain-dead!) before family-friendly work policies arrived or god help us, paid maternity leave. Along with my partner, I have been disciplined and saved towards our self-funded retirement goals according to the rules of the day - and the rules of the game. For 14 years!!!! I simply wish that the closet capitalists in the Labor Party would leave DIY Super alone. Don't eye it off enviously as a means of solving your budget deficits, boys & girls.

Vast spending promises will take us the way of Europe - look at the unsustainable mess they're in. Be a bit frugal. And stop buying Koolmint-size pearls to throw around you neck, Julia, sock it into Super instead. Oh, I forgot. You're on some kind of Defined Benefit Scheme for politicians that the rest of us great unwashed can only dream about. No market forces at work in YOUR super, Julia & Bill. Hands off my comfortable retirement, I've got a plan and I don't need your short-termism!!!!!! IF the rest of the community had a few extra-curricular lessons in economincs, especially in the marginal seats, they might agree with me that the nanny-state is undesirable. Hard work SHOULD be its own reward towards the end of a life well spent, all rules & obligations abided by etc in the meantime.

E Brown

I am writing to support the DIY Superannuation System. It has been a much preferred alternative to saving for our retirement over the retail superannuation schemes that largely charge much higher MER's with very questionable results. I am dismayed by the possibility the government will further water down the superannuation system possibly by targetting DIY Super specifically.

This government has been listening to Tony Abbott's "liar liar" rubbish too often. They now feel committed to an unnecessary budget surplus despite the impact their savings will have on our faltering (outside mining) economy.

Our budget deficit is one of the lowest in the world. Why do we suddenly have to attack a successful superannuation system to bring a microscopic change to the budget? Who cares if it is plus or minus a few percent of GDP??? Spend some more money please on educating the voters WHY our deficit is small and why it is not possible to achieve a surplus with the slowdown of the minng sector.

I Parker

Dear Alan and colleagues, For many years I resisted having Superannuation, except the government forced guarantee. My accountant said it was advantageous for tax reasons. My fears have revolved around the investments of the large super funds, mostly into the share-market, where volatility and risk is unpredictable. My other fear was that at a time when governments are strapped for money, they will raid the pot of gold. These fears have come to pass. I still have SMSF and invest in the share market. I have been advantaged by the Costello "gift" and burned by the GFC. I moved my super from high costing managed funds to SMSF, which I basically control, but others manage for a fixed fee. The idea of super was a good one by labour (Keating), but the multitudinous changes is frightening the public.

Eventually there will be no respect or confidence in the system, with the desire of Mr Keating and cohorts to self fund the retirees dying. Another good idea withering.

I enjoy reading the weekly wrap.

A Levendel

My wife and I are self funded superannuants. We have the great majority of our investments in our self managed fund which we run ourselves. ie no acountants and no financial planners. It affords us a very comfortable living and I anticipate its value growing above the rate of inflation. We would not be classed as wealthy but we certainly could and should pay some taxation.

The real inequality in superannuation arose when the Howard government abolished all tax on income derived from it. Previously there was a 15% rebate on income derived from superannuation.

This was a huge benefit to self funded superannuants, such as us, and the more wealth you had, both in and out of superannuation, the greater the benefit. The reason being that previously income from both sources were used to calculate your marginal rate of taxation before the rebate was applied.

Considering the predictable increasing in the funds held in high value superannuation it was financally disasterous. It was based on the assuption that good times would never cease.

However politically it was a coup. It was always going to be very difficult to reintroduce a previously abolished tax. Thus the present government is thrashing around trying to limit the growth in this tax haven and extracting some tax from specific areas.

They should just get on with it and reintroduce imcome tax on income from super. Up the rebate to 20% or 25% if they have to.

Leave, or increase, the incentives to put money into super but stop this rort.

K Matheson

I have struggled to get my super to a meagre $350K.

At 57 and a bad back I need all the super I can get.

With 09.11 and the GFC it's taken quite a bit of late sal sac to get there.

I am not the person to read industry super performance reports.

My super is dear to me and I spotted the "Super under attack" in the e mail.

My thoughts were expletives a plenty directed at our "elected representatives" and their obsession with living off the public tit.

The gratuitous super (and allowances) these grubs get is disgusting which the taxpayers fund wholly.

It is these same grubs that have super in the crosshairs so they may possibly cling to power for another term if they can "manufacture a budget surplus"as usual, at any cost.

This manufactured surplus won't save this government, greens and their independent accomplices.

W Tippett

It makes sense.

A government that wastes money like it is water from a tap while brushing teeth. I work hard, I save money, I contribute to super, I try to put enough away to be self sufficient, yet how is that that the same government that supported failed schemes can say to me , I want more of your retirement savings?

Super,is not only about me, it is also the savings the nation uses for infrastructure through investment banks, saving pools etc.

Your mantra about anyone over 60k earnings a year being rich. - wonder why the polls are low.

C Rose

Dear Eureka Report Gurus,

Simply; Super is sacrosanct!

Why should this even be debated, leave it alone, along with the Future Fund.

This concerns me so much, that my current Super Plan is to longer invest in Super funds, but to now focus on setting up my business to function well into my 'Wobbly Years'! The intention is to keep this up and have it pay my Better Half and I an annuity until we no longer eat enough to need it! (presently 49 years old with kids at private school).

Keep up the great work gang.

C Crossing

If Julia Gillard wanted to gain some brownie points she would simply say: When we decided that there would be a budget surplus in the current year we depended on revenue from the sale of commodities.

Unfortunately we did not foresee and neither did the Liberal party or others in the financial sector in Australia or around the world, the sudden and substantial fall in commodity prices. This fall was out of our control and in view of this turn of events we will not attack other important schemes, such as superannuation, and will do the right thing for the Australian people and adjust our forecasts to allow for a small budget deficit.

P Robinson

Dear Eureka Report

Clearly the government is facing a shortfall to fund its social/ health / education agenda and we all need to contribute in some way. If the government wants to get its hands on the money I have saved over 45 years in the workforce - then I suggest they borrow from me at a competitive rate of return. That way, those who want a steady income in retirement and have managed to save for it, can be satisfied and the government will have access to some of our funds. I'm not an economist, but it seems to me that another grab at our hard-earned funds results in a loss of consumer confidence and simply shrinks the pie, causing even greater contraction in consumer and other spending, which doesn't help anyone.

Politicians and public servants who are on guaranteed government pensions for life simply have no idea of how difficult it is for those who are middle income earners to save a million dollars or more to become self-sufficient in retirement.

Those of us who have managed to save what we hope will be enough for our retirement years do not wish to be dependent on government, thank you. Many of us are still working to ensure that we can be independent. Shrinking the amount of money in circulation will not help our employment prospects which are largely, for the over 60s, contract or part-time roles. Recent stories about people cashing in their lump sums and taking the aged pension are alarmist and not representative of the true picture.

Any lobbying you can do to encourage more imaginative approaches to our fiscal problems in the form of attractive government-based investment vehicles, PPPs or whatever, would be most appreciated.

J Thompson

I am in my early 50's and have been running a SMSF for just under 10 years now. I believe that I am reasonably well informed and knowledgable regarding financial matters, and also am fully aware of the demographic issues of our rapidly aging population. The future impost on government finances to provide pensions and other support services for the increasing number of senior citizens is going to be very challenging.

For probably the best part of 20 years now I have structured and planned my personal finances and investments along the strategy of being fully independent of any government financial support when I retired - my intention was to be retiring around the age of 60. The superannuation system was a central plank of this strategy.

  I would probably have to admit to having a high moral attitude that if I could fully support myself in retirement, that would "free-up" an amount of a government pension that I would otherwise be accessing, that could then be applied to some other worthwhile government service. I could probably now be accused (validly) of being somewhat dillusional and naive.

  The changes to the superannuation system that this current Labor government has already imposed has shaken my belief in what I had intended to do. If they now do go ahead and further erode the positive benefits of the superannuation system, then it will totally shatter any confidence that I have remaining. Bill Kelty was absolutely spot on when he commented recently, that continual changes to the taxation of superannuation simply destroys the general public's confidence in the system. It will more than likely change my whole attitude towards wanting to be independent of government support in retirement, and move towards chasing every last cents that I might be entitled to.

I could probably understand, accept and tolerate some of these changes if our political masters were prepared to show true leadership themselves and "sacrifice" some of the exceedingly generous conditions with their own priveliged superannuation system. Interesting that one of their own - Nick Sherry - lifted the lid on what could be gained by paring back some of the windfalls ensconsed in the public service and politician's benefits. Great idea !!!!!!

As numerous people have commented recently, this current government is so totally and utterly fixated on delivering the "magical" budget surplus, that they will make decisions on a short term basis with detrimental longer term implications, that display incredibly poor governance. No wonder they are so fequently described as the worst federal governement we have had in nearly 40 years, which I fully agree with.

Whilst I acknowledge that I have not offered much in the way of suggestions on what could be done to prevent the baby being thrown out with the bathwater in regard to the superannuation system, I'm afraid I've become quite disillusioned with this current Labor government and just wished they would stop moving the goalposts.

H McLeod

I am sick and tired of governments particularly this one changing the superannuation rules.

We get told from an early age that planning is a virtue.

OK. So we plan for our retirement and take responsibility for our retirement.

What do we get in return. A government that will not allow you to plan.

I have a friend who is 56 whose attitude is live for today, spend spend spend and get the old age government pension.

Is that the direction we are being given?

I can say this. If this government mucks around with my super then that will be the last vote for labour from me. And there will be many other self funded baby boomers doing the same thing. I mean it. Retribution pure and simple.

T Azzopardi

I hope you will be taking a balanced view in the politics of this situation.

"Gillard regime" is an emotive inflammatory term that is not what I would expect from what I believed was a highly ethical organisation like yours.

You should in my opinion explain the real facts. The Howard /Costello changes to super were designed to buy votes and as a result a substantial part of the reason that we have a defecit is the lost income as a result of these vote buying measures. I have seen it described as the worst fiscal legislation in Australia's history.

Please tell your subscribers that multi millionaires like ourselves pay no tax and in fact get tax rebates on imputation credits. This is not fair and embarasses me. We live in this country and utilise its services and have been priveleged to have been able to accumulate considerable wealth. We should be helping to pay our way.

I fully support a system that has a means test so that wealthy people do not get a disproportionate benefit out of superannuation compared to average income earners.

I am sure that this will be a very contrary view to what you will be getting but I believe it needs to be presented.

Please don't whip up a public reaction based on emotional language, fear and incomplete facts, a popular tactic currently being used by those not as scrupulous as you.

P Callaghan

My wife and I have been managing our SMSF since 2000. (We also run our own investment company, now nearly 15 years old). On record we have been beating the "average" Super Funds. We like what we do (self managed super) and take pride in not having to rely on a government handout (as that's how we see Gov Pensions are). We appreciate the SMSF flexibility it offers us and over the years taken advantage of Gov (read Lib Gov) encouragements to save more using our SMSF vehicle.  We are tired of hearing the constant attack by the present Gov on SMSF and related super area. Obviously this Gov don't care about old folks like us (I am more than 65). So we will exercise our democratic right at the Ballot Box, at the next election. We will be part of the population to shorten this Gov's life -- pun intended.  You can quote us, when you engage Bill Shorten or Gillard.

Name withheld

Government's reported intent to alter superannuation rules

The SMSF sector is largely unrepresented in lobbying Canberra. I therefore welcome the Eureka Report's efforts to provide a strong voice to protect SMSF members' interests.

The Rudd/Gillard governments have already undermined the levels of investment that those close to retirement can contribute in support of their retirement incomes. The frequent change of rules generates significant uncertainty.

This, in turn, generates distrust of government intentions and attacks the foundation of long term investment decisions.

Those planning for retirement inevitably face uncertainty, in choice of investment types, projected future returns and future economic conditions.

The absolute minimum that any government should seek to provide is a clarity and stability of long term purpose. This government has already generated sovereign risk for our major miners via the resource rent tax and internationally uncompetitive carbon pricing with an impact on stock prices which is unarguable however difficult to measure with certainty. The poor investment climate and returns in the Australian market are at least in part the product of this government's policies.

Now the foundation of the retirement futures of the five percent or so of Australia's population who have taken the decision not to burden taxpayers with their future support is under attack. Is this segment of the Australian public to be punished for attempting self sufficiency? Does political expediency always give government the right to help itself to the labours of others? Does this government have absolutely no guiding principles whatsoever? Is their policy formulation totally at the call of Unions and the Industry Fund segment?

If the Prime Minister wishes to show leadership, she should start with the excessively generous payments to politicians and the public sector.

D Beesley

The Government is likely to get more people drawing the pension as the returns in the past few years have been small and capital saving has been difficult.

There may be some area in respect to property that they can look at but if they adopt a large change then they risk the voter backlash which will be more than coming clean and saying that they will need to have a deficit in the coming year.

Maybe things are catching up with them and they should not be bringing in expensive proposals at this time if they do not have the funds.

J Ferguson

SMSF's are attacked by the vested interests of retail and industry funds yet the biggest rort is that the politicians and bureaucrats who make the rules and administer them are not subject to the same arrangements as the electorate. I suspect most people are not aware of this and it needs to be exposed.

I very much doubt they would constantly tinker with and attack super if they them selves were adversely affected.

The four main factors that enabled Australia to weather the GFC so well were:

China's rapid and massive stimulus which boosted our National Income; the effectiveness of the RBA's control of monetary policy and capacity to lower interest rates rapidly; the strength of our superannuation industry which enabled Australian companies to recapitalise through equity raisings and reduce debt; the strong fiscal position inherited by the Rudd Government which enabled a significant fiscal response.

The China impact is now substantially muted, interest rates are nearly back to Wayne Swan's so- called "emergency and crisis level", we now have a large public sector debt at both State and Commonwealth levels. It would be quite symbolic if the strength of superannuation was now undermined by this Government which had previously taken credit for it's handling of the GFC.

The quadrella would be complete to our great cost!

C Macek

Hello, as you suggest DIYers are not organised and that needs to happen.

Organised people are "squeeky wheels" and they will usually be greased. My suggestion is to make this the liberal party's political campaign as we can use the coming election to help avert this issue.

It doesn't really matter who gets in but if we can get the liberal government using this as a scare tactic campaign and then various promises will happen from both parties that will keep us safe for a number of years.

Let me know how I can help.

K Jones

I don't mind the fact that some of my hard earned is used by the Government for political purposes. I am cynical enough to accept that as a given. What I do mind is the rules being changed mid-race.

Planning for retirement is a long term exercise. Not a four year cyclical event for opportunists.

I don't have much in the bag, but it is sufficient to keep me off the pension. If the rules keep being changed, then you risk the "cash in the mattress" result (do I need to start looking for a king single?).

  Effective fiscal policy takes long range planning, integrity, honesty and guts. None out of four (whatever the political colour) seems to be a consistent result in this country. If our politicians were school children most of them would be held back another year in the hope they would get the idea.

Honestly, can't they please look to the future and not just work on the electoral cycle?

W Barnard

Dear editors,

As a SMSF director I would certainly support any lobbying on behalf of protecting super from changes to taxation. Past Labor governments have made poor decisions regarding superannuation in my opinion.

Taxing super funds is probably the dumbest budget decision a government can make as the money would be wasted on general government expenditure that has no long term benefit. Due to the decreasing percentage of workers vs retirees, any reduction in super or contributions would have disastrous consequences in 10 to 15 years time.

The situation would get particularly dire for retirees if global economic mismanagement continues and inflation gets out of hand across the developed economies.

I hope that something can be done to prevent any "super grab" from occurring.

P Mullen

I agree with Alan Kohler - a lot of business people do not invest in super even when they have the funds to contribute is that they see a souvereign risk in contributing to an Australian Super System..

For those who have already comitted thier savings to a super system, it will be a betrayal of the highest magnitude if the new rules do not provide grandfathering provisions for the funds that are already in the system when and if the changes are announced.

A Maroo

Re: A Super Call to Eureka Readers - I'm sorry but I do not understand the logic that 1 million DIY Super investors are automatically regarded as not/will not be in the Pension system. What difference is there between DIY investors and other Super investors? It is about the level of assets you own, not which Super fund you are in that determines whether or not you access the Age Pension.

However, I do agree with your concern about the mooted changes.

A Dillon

Thanks for all you are doing to date. Because we are widely distributed and our interests are diverse we should focus on something which we all can do and that is provide funds for someone to campaign on our behalf. We need an allowable expense through which to provide campaign funds as an investment in our future. Suggested contibutions of a very small % of balances to fund a political campaign would provide quite a bit of money and prove a worthwhile investment for the future. You are the only guys I can see who could help coordinate it on our behalf. If there was a bit of money available I am sure others would appear to do some work. The only thing we all have in common is funds. Even the threat of mobilising funds against the government would have some impact.

V Harvey

The Labor government has repeatedly demonstrated it's ability to implement ill conceived and damaging policy changes, so sadly we shouldn't be surprised about this matter. They are now highlighting their growing desparation and socialist attitudes.

Obviously they only have 12 months to go until they are shown the door, so why not go out swinging, especially if there is minimal collateral damage to your own rusted-on voters.

As a long standing SMSF participant who is about to retire after over 40 years as a tax payer, the prospect of significant changes is concerning to say the least.

How about distracting them by suggesting a lift in GST to 11%. I'm not sure how much extra that brings in, but if they are looking to window dress their budget then surely it would be fairer to have everyone chip in, rather than those who have managed, or been forced into, saving over many years for retirement. Certainly any retrospective expropriation should be met with total rejection by the super industry as a whole. They truly are a bunch of idealogically driven, incompetent and greedy b******s.

J Flesher

I am a retiree with my SMSF. We are all aware of the changes to superannuation introduced by Peter Costello in the Howard Government years.

If there are changes to be introduced to SMSF by the current government it will be to wind back a proportion (maybe all) of the beneficial changes intorduced by Costello. If this is to occur I would like them to be effective for new superannuants and not to wind back benefits we retirees already have.

In other words NOT to penalise those who only spent part of their working life building up savings for retirement and now live on modest means without government support.

P Blackband

I and my wife are small business owner operators and we have worked our butts off since coming to Australia over 30 years ago.

We saved for our retirement through MLC for around 20 years but when I looked at our returns after fees it was pretty dismal.

We set up a SMSF in 2003 to cut down on fees atc and to try and get a better return on out money and apart from a hiccup in the GFC like many others I would say we are ahead of the big players like MLC etc.

I very much am against Wayne Swan and his cronies attacking the super savings we have worked so hard for.

I believe we need to mount the strongest petition against the possible threat of more taxes on the SMSFs as Labour continue to stuff up our economy and our wonderfull country where we live.

I am not against taxes in general but as we pay 15% on the way in and a further 15% on any profits I think that should be enough already.

J & A Laverty

I am very concerned at the indications that Government may be about to attack the superannuation system (in particular the DIY) section, to fund a short term goal of balancing its budget.

Superannuants or potential superannuants have worked hard, and usually undergone sacrifice during their earning years to ensure they are secure during retirement. Their money now goes out to the community and plays a big part now, and will in the future in keeping Australian businesses healthy.

Self funded retirees have very few benefits anyway, and unless they are one of the few who have amassed a huge nestegg, need to look carefully at preserving what they have for as long as needed. If additional taxes were imposed on people who have planned for an adequate retirement under previous rules, there would be a much greater call on government pensions in the longer term.

Similarly, if any more additional restrictions on contributions to superannuation were imposed, this will also result in more government pensions in the longer term.

Superannuants, and people saving for super VOTE, and they will certainly take note of raids on their super.

E Sinclair

Any further meddling and changes to Superannuation will make me re-consider the whole concept of being a self funded retiree.

It has taken something like 30 years saving and planning for a comfortable retiirement, but with so many changes to the system it makes me think it is too dangerous to lock savings away in a controlled super scheme where the goal posts are continually changed.

To become a self funded retiree, I paid taxes all the way through my working life on the income from investments. This left me with with absolutely no Centrelink type benefits (which my children questioned in comparison to their friends), and now at age 65 years I am ineligble for Centrelink Age pension.

  Why? I paid more taxes in my working life, and took more risks with my money than people who have not saved a penny and live on a pension and get rebates on a wide range of daily expenditure.

Why save when the government will take my money one way or another through taxation, aged care costs and other restrictions.

I am close to spending my retirement nest egg to qualify for the Aged pension so I can take advantage of benefits I and my wife have paid through my working life.

I have already advised my adult children to contribute no more to Superannuation than their workplace/salary benefits. They also think we have been crazy saving over so many years to be independant when the majority get a gov't pension.

G Parry

I am willing to assist in any capacity including funds to assist in any representation to the government required

M Harsley

WRT Superannuation Intentions

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please add my voice to the deep rumbling, and pass on to the politicians, get your hands off my stash, to quote pink F.

I would believe that the Government would triple tax and go back on their word in a well regulated third world country but not in this one. I will not afford the treasurers ego trip just to prove he was right about a surplus - get him to eat some humble pie with the rest of the world. It is being served at some of the best parliamentary greasy spoons.

N Thomson

The ongoing disgrace of politicians meddling in the superannuation trough looks like being cranked to an even greater level by the current Government, if reports that have clearly been selectively leaked are to be believed.

Although I cannot shrug off the discomforting thought that politicians are just being politicians, always ready with a softening up series of leaks that prepares everyone for the horror and generates a collective sigh of relief when they simply penalise the well off , the threat is sufficiently dire to raise the ire in every person who has superannuation benefits. That means most of us. What on earth are they thinking ? Why would rational human beings consider tinkering once again with a system designed to encourage people to invest in their own future and reduce the drain on the Nation's purse at retirement?

There can be only one basic reason - the current crop of seat warmers, on their own self voted massive super schemes, know full well they are not going to be returned to office next year . Childish insistence on a budgetary surplus, which will be negligible in the overall national accounts, will extract the last semblance of veracity from a Government that has wasted untold billions, continues to pursue an agenda which very likely will bankrupt the nation and (again) will leave vast deficits for the next bunch of seat warmers.

Why do we put up with this silly and futile cycle ? No leadership, no statesmanlike figures among the hundreds of elected representatives, no common sense. Truly, do we really get what we deserve?

M Levy

I am most concerned that some sort of changes (including introduction of taxes where tax didn't previously exist) which may impinge on my retirement status. I am a self funded retiree living off a range of investments within my self managed super fund. Yes I enjoy tax concessions on the earnings on my own savings. I am not eligible for any sort of pension or part pension benefits having planned for my current situation over many years.

I am 74 and will not be in a position to generate further employment earnings in the future. Reducing interest rates may be good for those borrowing for home purchases and so on but the same reducing interest rates also reduce the earnings on which I live. I will do anything in my power to rally/vote against any party stupid enough to impact my future financial situation.

I believe Government saving should begin "at home" where the overseas joyriding of politicians, study tours, travel, along with flunkeys to carry the bags, book the taxis and restaurants, find five star hotels and the like should be very strictly limited. Most times Ministers don't need to travel at all when the work is done by the department minions who mostly know what they are doing, and should waste time holding the hands of Ministers, who don't.

It's time the concept of conference calling took hold.

It's also time to ditch political and department pensions based on defined benefits and indexation and not accruals - when the people in power must make decisions related to pension accruals from personal savings we will see a different emphasis, compared to the indexed defined benefit gravy trains which currently exist. The rest of us will accept harder times when we see the example set from the parliamentary benches.

P McDonell

Re: Gillard Government and Superannuation

My wife and I have a DIY fund and our goal is to be self sufficient when we retire. We have worked all our lives and paid out dues and put a little aside so that we will not be a burden on the australian tax payer and, more importantly, on our children. We don't have a large fund and with only about

10 years before we retire we dispair at the state of the economy and the constant changes to the superannuation system which is continually eroding our savings. They just don't seem to be able to leave well alone.

The politicians never look at their own scheme and make sacrifices yet we australian taxpayers fund their retirement more generously than they will let us fund our own. Their claim that their jobs are not guaranteed is no more valid than saying that ours are.

Perhaps it is best to just spend all our savings and live off the taxpayer as this appears to be the goal of the ever so shortsighted labour government.

S Rose

As a self -funder retiree it is a great shoch to hear the Shorten is planning to get savings from the super funds. We have seen interest rates tumble, and as a consequence our earnings from fixed interest has declined alarmingly. Any tampering that has a negative effect on existing retirees will be catastrophic, to say the least. We have seen our annual income fall from about $100,000 last year to about $65,000 from the effects of interest rates, and corporate dividends. Shorten and his people need to understand the political reality of effecing the incomes of retirees! Any further erosion will see us on the doors of Centerlink seeking the pension...another burden on the Shorten budget.

C Lawrence

All I can say as a 52 year old male that has just started out on the journey of SMSF (very scary) and also determined not to have to depend on the government in old age I will certainly rethink my super plans if this current government (rabble) start to try and change the rules to try and be robin hood i.e. steal from the middle class to give to the so called poor or those that are depended on Centre Link. Maybe we all should aim to be Centre Link dependent bloody hell Labour are short sighted.

T Wickham

Alan Kohler

With regard to your recent article, on possible changes to the suprannuation system, I make the following comments.

I am in the rather enviable situation, where I am still working (at age 64), salary sacrificing a considerable portion of my income, and simultaneously, drawing a tax free pension. While this may seem excessive, to some people, I regard it as being financially responsible, for my own future retirement.

One of the contributing factors, to my continued participation in the workforce, is my ability to grow my superannuation fund, for as long as possible, against the day, I have to start living off the final accumulated total.

I would certainly resist any proposed changes to the current superannuation rules, and would possibly reconsider my plans, to remain in the workforce, for as long as possible. Would the Government prefer me to remain a taxpaying member of society, or retire, and become a burden on the remaining taxpayers?

TC Siefken

I’m sick & tired of this government ,first gillard tells the cabinet don,t give anything to pensioners they don,t vote for us ,then she gives all pollies pay rises that makes them the most overpaid inexperienced lot of fools ever to run this country.....excuse me i,m fighting for breath here !!! now she wants to take from any and everyone that has ever put a dollar into super except of course our honourable (did i write that) pollies who never lose anything unlike joe ordinary !!!!!!!! what,s next ah franking credits !!!!thanks for all your articles regards

D Sterling

Thanks for highlighting this issue for SMSFs.

My suggestion ... Organise a getup style email campaignfor SMSFs and forward the results to Minister Shorten and the PM.

B Warner

I'm reading through the financial press the Govt are planning to yet again change the super rules.

As a self employed consultant our self managed super fund is the main vehicle by which we are planning to look after our own future.

We do not have a defined benefits scheme as the people who are changing the rules on us do.

Thanks to the all the changes and the rules, I have to employ an expensive accountant to prepare the annual returns. Even then they get it wrong on occasions and I get a letter from the tax department for excess contributions!

We do not have millions in our super fund ... we are just trying to have enough for a comfortable retirement - and given we are living longer we would like to have more in the fund - however the Govt. is limiting the amount we can put in to $25,000. How much do they think it costs to live these days?

G Rennie

The problem is that the Gillard Government has nothing to lose - self funded retirees (generally) are not going to vote Labor and those who are still in the contribution phase (generally) do not understand the danger. Most self funded retirees only become interested in examining the inept management of their Super assets by Fund Management Trustees during the final years of their working life - the poor performance and rip off fees charged by Fund Managers is either ignored or undetected through the contributor's own lack of interest/understanding. Indeed many people still believe that the Government's spin that it is funding the proposed increase in Super from 9% to 12% through the illusionary Mining Tax rather than the real position which is that the Employee is funding the increase through wage adjustments by the Employer.

I hope that the Government is not able to raid our Super but I can already see the pre-work in spin whereby they will argue that what they are doing is simply making the system fairer by stripping away the conditions that have made the present policy attractive for those of us who have prudently mad provision for our futures devoid of Government Pension or Health Benefit support.

J Moffatt

Dear Alan Kohler

It is time to tell the Feds to lay off our super, and here is a way to do

this:

1. We (the SMSFs need a spokesperson. That could be you or your organisation

2. Arrange a petition telling them to lay off. Perhaps use Change.Org or similar

3. We (your members) will circularise this to all our colleagues, asking them to forward it too, until it goes viral. We will ask our accountants and our tax advisors to spread this amongst their clients.

4. Set a target of (say) 250,000 signatures. If reached, can you imagine the publicity and the stink that this would create.

If you do not wish to become personally involved, then perhaps you know someone with the right public profile who will.

None of this will work without the right person who can organize, lead and speak for us all.

Go for it Alan!!!

C Jacobson

This current Government seems to be attacking anyone who dares to try to get ahead. I was a low income earner so I decided to go to Uni in my late 20's. I finished my accounting degree and then did my CPA. I now earn a reasonably good income - a little over $90,000. This Goverment has hit me with a carbon tax with no compensation. My 30% health rabate has been taken from me. My company car FBT rate is now higher for over 25,000 klms. Now Labor are attacking my super. I feel like giving up and just going back to a low income earner and get all the benefits. Labor has taken away all incentives to succeed and get ahead. It is shameful.

R Brook

This is pretty sad. What I fear is that there won't be fairness and equality in super. The rules need to remain stable and Bill Shorten needs to realise he is playing with electoral fire messing with the system!

He makes bad changes the Labor Govt is history!

D More

It was scary when I retired to realize because I no longer had the control over my financial destiny that was extant when I worked.

While working one would roll with the super change punches and say "oh well I'll just work a few more years". Don't have that any more and the financial model I constructed to tell me I had enough to stop working if it was no longer enjoyable was, in hindsight, so terribly naive. The deed is done now and there is no turning back ( its been almost 15 years).

First came the GST that reduced the spending power of my nest egg then I wasn't allowed to roll a US IRA into my super without ridiculous tax penalties. Now if they make any changes to the tax treatment of the super earnings or draw down t'will be a vote loser for sure!!

F Holland

I am over 60 and have pension from the APS after 32 years of service. I took a pension before I was 55 because of the quirks in the system amd put the rest in Agest. I started an SMSF in jan 2012 with my shares and my AGEST payout. I am appalled to think that now the Govt will change the system to disadvantage me payingv tax all these years. I even get taxed on my defined benefit scheme; if that is not double taxation what is it?

Any changes will be to the bludgers in society and leave people like me who started work nothing with nothing in my old age I am disgusted with the lies, the deceit and double talk of this lying deceitful government. I will fight it all the way unfortunately, I have a heart condition and it may exacerbate whether I live a long or a short time. Who cares? Certainly not the snake Shorten or the other Labor Lackeys. They will take are of themselves for sure.

R Martin

The "chat" in the media about the current Govt attacking the superannuation funds of existing citizens is absolutely devastating. I have personally been adjusting ny investment and retirement strategy to prepare for the ultimate retirement of myself and my wife with the sole objective to be able to look after ourselves and not rely on family or Government for this. We have done this within the current laws and with the view that the status quo can be relied on within reason, into the future.

How is it ever possible to have confidence to plan and make critical investment decisions on as important an issue as this when the Govt can change the law to satisfy its short-term political "fixes" at the expense of its own responsible, mature-age citizens. I am absolutely disgusted with the discusssions of this possibility and would be totally distraught should this eventuate.

R Levy

Another soft target gets the treatment.

I guess Shorten figures most folk with a sizeable commitment to their super fund are not Labor voters anyhow.

Roll on election time.

T Smallwood

Dear Alan,

The strongest and loudest message needs to be sent to the government. There are people who have purposefully sacrificed lots of other endeavours to ensure that they have the capacity to care for themselves in their retirement. We do not expect to receive government largesse, we expect to have to stand on our own two feet for 20 to 30 years after retirement.

That is an obligation that we have taken seriously and the respect of government that needs to be demonstrated is to give us a stable environment in which to save. There already have been substantial changes in the system over the past 5 years. All that does is reduce the resolve to be able to support one-self and maximise the choices of being dependent on the government for as long and as much as possible.

Give us stability. Give us the chance to save with certainty. Give us the chance to accept a model where we are responsible for our futures. The ongoing 'stuffing around' is both confusing and distressing. This is short-term-ism in the extreme.

Please convey this message as loudly as you can

D Hillis

As an SMSF administrator myself as well as having my own SMSF ,my clients and I are dismayed at the thought that having gone without and put funds aside for retirement ,the government see a system where one size fits all.A number of thosevfunds have members that are not wealthy and resent being brought back to the pack as they have termed it when their whole intention was to enable them to be self sufficient in retirement.Furthermore the furphy espoused in some media circles that baby boomers will spend all their funds on holidays etc and then go on the age pension for the rest of their life flies in the face of reality whereby very few of those boomers will have saved sufficient to totally remove themselves from the Centrelink net and they tend to husband their money carefully,.far more carefully than the administrators of retail and industry funds and blowing it all in an orgy of spending is just a hoax perpetrated by interests intending to either sway funds back to the big end of town or the govt itself trying to plug budgetary holes of their own making through a lack of the fiscal disipline those self same boomers show in spades.

D Carnaby

Apart from an impassioned plea to Govt to get their hands out of our hard earned savings in Super, I'm not sure what else I can say that might influence this Labour Govt to reconsider. Is there a form petition that I can sign?

C Delima

You guys could start by integrating social media into your website for articles like this so that we can simply click share and articles like this can be posted to our facebook or twitter accounts for all our friends to become aware.

I have just shared it on my facebook account and within one minute 3 people have responded on the issue.

M Connors

Re Super! So what else is new, it seems to be a Labor ‘thing’ – to keep switching the goalposts, re super funds – Paul Keating made a habit of it. We all know that Shorten is interested only in himself. As for balancing the budget, & returning to surplus, - how stupid does Swan think we are? It is just a matter of creative accounting, which is what he has done so far, - even blind Freddy can work that one out. The sooner this mob are gone, the better we shall all be.

Name withheld

I would think the obvious area for the government to attack is the tax free status of funds once they go into pension mode. For a fund with a million dollars in equities, not only does the beneficiary not pay tax on the $60 - 70,000 of dividends but the government hands back another $30,000 in franking credits. I would be amazed if the government didn't change that situation either by removing the tax exemption or making franking credits non-refundable.

RA

I note your comments about the possible attack on Super by the current Government. I really think you should be publicising the limited effect it will have on politicians and senior public servants . In any area that has integrity in place it could be real conflict of interest.I do not believe that the average member of any superfund has any real idea of the self interest in these decisions.

JC

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