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John Passant

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January 2015



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Don Argus, superannuation and the end of the age of entitlement

Don Argus is the former Chairman of BHP Billiton and before that was CEO of the National Australia Bank.

Argus is in dispute with the Australian Tax Office over his superannuation. As a generalisation if you are over 60 years old any superannuation payments you receive are, thanks to Peter Costello, tax free. ┬áThe ATO is arguing that Argus breached certain age related payment requirements so that in fact the payments aren’t exempt from income tax.

The interesting thing in all of this is that for the year in question the pension payments (maybe to both Argus and his wife, rather than just Argus alone,) were about $1.2 million.

Assuming a five percent rate of return on the fund’s assets, this means the capital in the Argus superannuation fund is about $20 million. Now, in normal cases this $1.2 million superannuation income would be tax free.

That is fair isn’t it? After all it must be hard for a couple to live on $1.2 million a year. ┬áThat’s almost $12000 a week each, tax free.

Assuming an average tax rate of 45% on the $1.2 million, if tax were paid on that superannuation income it would total about $500,000. That would still leave the Arguses with $700,00 a year after tax to survive on.

In a fairly weak response to the disgraceful benefits the super rich get from the myriad of superannuation tax concessions, in April 2013 the then Labor government announced plans to tax fund earnings (not pensions) greater than $100,000 a year. The tax was to be capped at 15% and would have caught just 16,000 people, about 0.4% of the over 4 million retirees. Labor didn’t implement this minor tax before the September 2013 election and the current Abbott government, having pooh poohed the idea in Opposition, did not go ahead with it.

The top ten percent of income earners receive about one third of all the superannuation tax concessions, that is about $15 billion worth of tax expenditures annually. A couple in a similar position to the Arguses, if they stay within the rules, will get payments totaling $1.2 million per year tax free.

Far better to slug poor and sick people between $5 and $20 to go to the doctor or put the GST on fresh food than to tax the rich eh Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey? Tell me again about the end of the age of entitlement.



Comment from Kay
Time January 15, 2015 at 6:34 am

Don Argus is hardly representative of self-funded superannuants! The ‘experts’ tell us a couple needs a minimum of $600K for ‘comfortable’ retirement – an occasional overseas holiday, a modest new car every 10 years or so, being able to pay the bills etc. – and this assumes you own your home. For the average worker, this amount is difficult to achieve – we stuck our necks out and borrowed heavily whilst working, then sold those assets when we retired, and added post-CGT funds to our super. I know most other self-funded retirees made similar manoeuvres.

I agree that there should be limits on super fund amounts – certainly $20M is way over what is reasonable. Perhaps Argus did bend the rules – after all, there are some provisions limiting the amount you can put in now, and the RBL rules used to apply. Anyway, I do think there need to be limits on the amount you can have in super – based on being able to provide for a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle – maybe an absolute limit of around $800K – $1M. Other assets should be in a fully-taxed environment. Very few retirees would hit that limit!

Comment from Brian
Time January 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Typical envy from someone who expects everything for nothing. Don Argus earnt in wages several million a year and PAID income tax in the hundreds of thousands. Now that he has looked after himself rather than be a burden on society (aged pension) you want to penalise him. He will still pay GST on everything he buys, still pay rates, levy’s, state government charges and income tax on his investments outside his super. Well done that we have people like Don Argus who ran BHP and made it a world’s best company that we all benefited from (shares in our own super).

The only reason you are complaining is you were too lazy to work hard and achieve what he has done.

Comment from John
Time January 17, 2015 at 9:48 am

Yes, too lazy. Brian, you have no idea who I am or what I have done so you make up descriptions that fit your own biases. I believe in tax equity.

Comment from Brian
Time January 19, 2015 at 12:26 pm

No you actually don’t believe in tax equity, if you keep taxing people, they will leave this country. What I believe in is rewarding hard work and provide incentives for people to look after themselves. Remember the old saying give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish, feed him for life. What you want for your so called “Tax equity” is to confiscate this man’s fishing rod and give it to people who don’t like fish anyway.

You give away what you have done in life by your attitude. Envy is a pathetic argument

Comment from Kevin
Time January 19, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Firstly you have no idea how much Tax Mr Argus actually paid, if any at all. You have no idea on if he did a day’s hard work.
There is no relationship between hard work and income. If there was most poor would be wealthy and most wealthy would be poor.
As for BHP being the World’s Best Company which hat did you pull that one from.

Comment from Brian
Time January 19, 2015 at 1:41 pm

So, I notice you have spent most of your life with the ATO or Universities and are now retired getting a TAX payer Funded pension and tutoring on Socialism and Markism.

Gee, you are a massive burden on taxpayers and society, rather than teach Envy, why not give up your taxpayer funded pension and try working and building your own retirement like millions of self employed or Don Argus has done. Then and only then, would you have the right to criticize hard workers.

The irony that you believe in Tax equity, when you paid no income tax at all during your career with the ATO and now getting a tax free TAX PAYER funded pension.

Was it Karl Marx that said all men are equal, some are more equal than others?

Comment from John
Time January 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Brian, you got a few ‘ facts’ wrong. I contributed to a superannuation scheme all the years of my working life. Second I paid tax on my ATO and academic income when I worked and still do on my current work income. Third I pay tax on my superannuation pension (but get a rebate of ten percent of gross income as I am 60). Fourth there is a big difference between someone on a $30,000 or $40000 per annum tax free pension and someone on $600,000 or perhaps $1.2 million a year tax free pension. Maybe you could try facts for a change rather than stupid biased and incorrect comments pandering to your own prejudices.

Comment from Brian
Time January 19, 2015 at 4:13 pm

No John, you have it wrong, you believe you paid income tax while working at the ATO.
Simple economics 101 (that even a Marxist should understand)

As I lecture at Uni as well (not my fulltime job) I explain to my students that Income tax is like a bucket with holes in it. Money gets poured in at the top and increases revenue, and the holes reduce revenue (paying for hospitals, education, defence and public servant wages) So you don’t pay income tax. Or even more simple, the government has $100, it pays you $90 on paper and you give back (on paper) $20. How much money has the government got? $30. So Income tax is there to increase revenue, your token payslip accounting has not increased revenue at all. You are a burden on society. No commonwealth public servant pays income tax. thank god for GST other wise you would not have paid a single cent in tax

Comment from Brian
Time January 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Kevin, seriously??? I have no idea he worked hard. As a CEO of any corporation he can be sacked at anytime and is not protected by Unions, If Don Argus didn’t perform he would not have a job. BHP is a world class organisation comparable to many others.

There is a strong relationship between hard work and income. People who go to university earn approx. 30% more. If hard work had nothing to do with it, every public servant and unemployed drug addict would be billionaires.

You study hard, work hard, you will be successful. Why are so many disabled people become successful sports stars or writers or artists, because they work hard. We read about successful people from humble back grounds all the time. The number one trait, they worked hard.

Unless you are disabled (and I apologise to any readers who are intellectually disabled or physically ) Then you have no excuse not to be successful. Stop blaming Don Argus, Kerry Packer, John Howard, your Mum, your school teacher, your next door neighbour or anyone else. You are a product of your own making. Cause and Effect.

Comment from John
Time January 19, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Don Argus and the other members of the 1%: I earned all this income from hard work. My response. Whose?

Comment from Brian
Time January 20, 2015 at 10:13 am

you get paid for your value to society, a shop assistant gets a low wage because he adds very little to society, a doctor earns a lot because he adds more value to society.

In your Marxist world, everyone would earn the same. So no incentive to work harder.

Someone who studies hard and becomes the best in their field deserves to be rewarded. In the eyes of BHP Don Argus was the best they could afford. He had the ability to delegate and lead. So he got paid millions to do so.

Without leadership, no organisation or political party would survive. Do you honestly think that Karl Marx, Stalin or the current president of North Korea earns the same as a rice farmer?

To get paid more, make yourself more valuable. It is as simple as that. No matter what your occupation, a plumber can learn all there is to plumbing and business and end up running their own company, a doctor can work hard studying and become the best surgeon. etc etc.

So, stop blaming other successful people who have made themselves valuable to society. And please don’t ask a stupid question like “What value has Don Argus done for society/” He has done a lot more than you ever will, instead of being a burden on society, he ran a company that made a profit, which employed 1000’s of people and paid royalties and tax and sponsored charities to the tune of millions. So if he was a bad CEO, BHP would have not made a profit thousands would be unemployed and less tax revenue raised.

You on the other hand have been a life long burden on society, never owned your own business, now tutoring a proven complete failure political ideology to impressionable young people. You don’t grow food, cure diseases, make something, encourage tourism or even help the elderly.

You are the ultimate waste of recourses and a massive drain on society.

You, have the right to free speech, yet complain about the people who indirectly give you that privilege. (that is, people who pay income tax, pay for our defence forces and police)

It is so easy to criticize, yet for you so hard to cheer for successful people.

Envy, Envy, Envy the cry of the society’s intellectual lazy.

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