In a thorough profile in News Review in last weekend’s SMH, the Premier not only claimed boring was good but that boring meant “that we’re focusing on real issues, making tough decisions around complex issues that hopefully are focused on the public.”

We are not so sure. A boring approach to local government reform won't do anyone any favours and a continuation of the previous Government's reluctance to bite the bullet and amalgamate what are clearly financially unsustainable councils, means a continuation of councils trading insolvent, less money for training, less money for market rates etc. Please, this is an area where being boring isn't the solution.

The announcement last week of a Local Government Review Panel to "investigate and identify options for governance models, structural arrangements and voluntary boundary changes for local government in New South Wales" perpetuates two decades of failed social policy trying to convince those with the most substantial vested interests ( general managers and councillors) to ignore the self-evident. Sweet talking hasn't worked.

Here is an area crying out for something a bit less boring. Come on Barry, do something challenging when you appoint the three members of the Review -  ask depa for a nomination!

Let's not get distracted. We are going to happily celebrate Barry's anniversary with some exciting news because we try not to do boring.

The State Electoral Office wrote to all financial members calling for nominations and at noon on Friday 23 March, the Electoral Office declared elected nine candidates for the nine available positions. The election was uncontested and all positions were filled. Move along Barry, nothing boring to see here.

Two new young women planners will join the Committee.  Joanne Dunkerley is a planner and our delegate at Great Lakes and Selina McNally is also a planner and our delegate at Nambucca.  Both nominated and were declared elected and will join a Committee with considerable experience and expertise in managing the policies and action of the union. And with Jo Doheny, a woman, our delegate and a planner from Gosford elected as a Vice President, (Jo was appointed to the Committee in September last year to fill a casual vacancy) and Kerry Hunt, a long-serving member of the Committee in a variety of positions over many years, we at last have female representation proportionate to the number of women amongst our members.

Four women in a Committee of ten and with a nice range of ages that more appropriately reflects the demographics of our members too.

The new Committee takes office from 1 May for a two year term.

Over the past couple of years Andrew Spooner and Les Green have acted as our representatives on the Food Regulation Forum - established by the NSW Government to improve consultation and feedback between all the parties involved in the regulation of food and food premises.

Amongst other things, the Forum is the primary source of advice and guidance to the Food Regulation Partnership and it evaluates and provides advice to the NSW Food Authority. Falling within the responsibilities of the Minister for Primary Industries, the new Minister,  Katrina Hodgkinson MP has expressed a desire to try to even out the genders in what has been a uniformly blokey group.  And we are happy to help. After all, look what's just happened to our Committee.

So, we are calling for expressions of interest to be considered by the May meeting of the Committee of Management to be one of our representatives. If you are a woman who is a member and involved in food regulation, then here is an opportunity to have a higher level involvement in policy than your current job will allow.

If you are interested, ring the office. It would be a bit embarrassing if, having women representatives on the Committee proportionate to our women members, we can't find someone.

Last week the Federal Parliament endorsed progressive increases to compulsory superannuation that will see an eventual increase from the current 9% to 12% in 2019. SGC will go to 9.25% in July next year. Compulsory superannuation is a piece of social policy admired across the globe. Originating in a relationship between the ACTU and the Hawke Labor Government, ACTU Secretary Bill Kelty and Treasurer and then Prime Minister Paul Keating created something so obvious and compelling that you wonder why compulsory superannuation didn't exist earlier.

Well, you don't wonder for long. Compulsory national superannuation was initially proposed as part of the 1972 Whitlam initiatives but up until the 1980s superannuation was solely the privilege of predominantly male professions, clustered in the public sector or available after a long qualifying period in the private sector. It was a system that meant there was no proper strategy to improve and protect retirement income levels and this disadvantaged wage earners in the private sector and particularly, women workers. It was pension or nothing.

And superannuation funds were only run by the big banks and insurers and were usually available through company funds with impenetrable governance, questionable decisions about investment and anonymous trustees.

So how can anyone be opposed to a system that introduced compulsory superannuation for everyone, managed through funds with equal representation of employers and employees and with no profits being skimmed off to the big banks?

In 1985 the then Leader of the Opposition was John Howard. Howard said this:

"That superannuation deal, which represents all that is rotten with industrial relations in Australia, shows the government and the trade union movement in Australia not only playing the employers of Australia for mugs but it is also playing the Arbitration Commission for mugs".

Howard was commenting on the deal between the government and the ACTU which saw the trade union movement forfeit a claim to 3% productivity improvement as wages to instead be paid in compulsory superannuation - endorsed by the Arbitration Commission and managed by superannuation funds with equal representation of the unions in the industry and the employers.

Howard went on to describe it as a "Chicago racket", referring to the corruption and gangster years of Chicago in the 1930s. But Howard's view was not a lonely one in the Coalition - which has steadfastly opposed every increase in compulsory superannuation since that time, whether it be from 3% to 6%, or the 6% to the current 9%. Antagonistic, moi?

How dare the employees in an industry and the employers run a superannuation fund for people on a not-for-profit basis when the Coalition's mates in banks and finance could have been skimming off the cream investing the money themselves without the employees having any idea where it was being invested, by whom or who were the Trustees managing it on their behalf?

Now there is around $1.4 billion managed in the compulsory superannuation pool in Australia - a figure expected to increase to $3 billion in the next decade.

But the Conservatives who opposed equal access to superannuation still do so. In an article in The Australian on 14 March in anticipation of the increase in compulsory superannuation, Tony Abbott attacked industry super funds creating a "gravy train" for union officials to sit on the boards.

The current Opposition Leader foreshadowed that the Coalition doesn't easily forget their mates losing access to money being made in this area and that they will pursue this at some stage in government.

But the problem for the Coalition is that industry/government funds that exist only to fund retirement incomes for the members rather than create profits for corporations have, in the past eight years to June 2011, delivered 49 of the 50 strongest performances. Corporate funds are regularly at the bottom of the barrel on returns, the fees are invariably higher, the directors and trustees are the real faceless men, and existing solely to provide a profit to the companies that run them.

Any attack on the not-for-profit sector will be driven solely by hatred and envy and puts at risk the retirement incomes of members of those funds. Beware.

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