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Time to nationalise superannuation in Australia – even conservatives think so!

In our new book, Reclaiming the State: A Progressive Vision of Sovereignty for a Post-Neoliberal World (Pluto Books, 2017) – Thomas Fazi and I argue that that reversal of many of the neoliberal changes that governments have agreed to over the last three or more decades is not only possible but desirable. While many of our proposals exploit the legislative power that a democratic government clearly possesses (such as reregulating banking etc), other proposals directly rely on the currency-issuing capacity of the government. One such proposal is to create national pension funds (or superannuation funds in the Australian terminology), which provide an efficient and secure vehicle for workers to channel savings while working to improve their retirement prospects later in life. This idea runs counter of the neoliberal myth, which claimed that the ‘market’ would be a better vehicle for creating institutions to manage workers’ saving and maximise pension entitlements. In Australia, we are now witnessing the indecent greed and major rip-off of workers that the ‘market’ solution has delivered. Even one of the architects of privatised superannuation schemes, the former conservative Treasurer Peter Costello is seeing the folly of his work. In the UK Guardian article (October 13, 2017) – Peter Costello calls for nationalisation of superannuation – we learn that the former treasurer believes that “Australia’s collective $2.3 trillion pension pot would be better invested by a government agency”. The natives are getting restless!

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