Regarding yesterday’s post about aged pensions and new eligibility thresholds being mooted by the government, those old enough to remember may recall the pension deductions at source during the 1950’s and onwards?
Those who do recall, as I do, may also remember that a few years later all that money somehow vanished and when any politician was asked where all that pension money went they ran for cover and I don’t recall any answer forthcoming. Many reports say the National Welfare Fund, as it was called in 1950, held more than £100,000,000.
A regular reader of MM, Wallace, has sent the following, which he had tucked away in his files. Unfortunately, the original author is unknown and the veracity of the article shall be deferred to our learned readers with other knowledge either pro or con. This is an excerpt from a very long piece but for our purposes begins here, with original punctuation errors: (Ed.)
Considerable public relations investment prepares Aussies for this event; generally in the form of proselytising the myth that the younger generation is being stuck with the burden of financing pensions for the ageing baby boomers. The reality could not be more different. This is the story of a different kind of privatisation… outright theft on a multi-billion dollar scale; the appropriation of an entire age pension scheme. We don’t even know where the money went.
The history of the Age Pension Fund is not-well-known and it goes back to 1945, when Prime Minister Ben Chifley became aware of grinding poverty amongst the elderly. He was shocked, and a referendum was put to the people of Australia; and the outcome was a welfare fund contributed to by every Aussie worker, at a rate of 7.5% of gross income (at the time, in Australia and New Zealand, one and sixpence in the pound). This was a fund that was very specifically owned by the workers and declared as such; a fund in which government could not interfere; and from which it could not even borrow. Money could only be paid out as an indexed and non-means tested pension upon retirement at age 65 (60 for women).
To ensure the public was reminded of its investment, and so no government could interfere with the Fund, the amount appeared at the top of every income tax form and was calculated before income tax. Actuaries have calculated that this fund should currently be yielding at $6000 per year more than the current age pension.
Posthumously, former Prime Minister Robert Menzies should be tried for the original theft; perhaps the greatest heist in human history. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating needs to answer the long-stalled question, where is this fund? This is a fund that he illegally, and in breach of the constitutional sacrosanctity of referenda, imposed means testing; on worker’s own savings.
Does the current government know about this? It would certainly explain why on 29 July 2009 the Minister for Aging Jenny Macklin diverted attention from the 1946 fund, by erecting a monument in Canberra to the 1909 age pension scheme which, as she mentioned over-casually, “was means tested, just like today’s version”. Nice try Minister but you are still in possession of stolen funds and imposing illegal means-testing.