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Grey Nomads & the Dream of Superannuation

Australian superannuation is a strange and fickle beast that we’ve pegged our hopes to in pursuit of an economically sustainable social welfare system. Unfortunately, it seems to have largely devolved into a Christmas Club for the newly retired (including the rambling Grey Nomads).

Let’s step back in time and ask ourselves why the compulsory superannuation scheme was implemented in Australia under Keating’s Government? The answer looms in a worrying demographic trend that, at this point in time, identifies the massive population bulge we call the Baby Boomers (post-WW2 to early 1960s). They are flooding into semi and full retirement.

This should be no news to anybody because the aging population has been on our radar for decades. It’s the same problem faced by all Western countries where higher education led to smaller families. In short, Australia obviously had no conceivable way to fund the Baby Boomer retirement dream of a decade or two in the burbs playing lawn bowls and drinking beer shandies.

Sigh. The dream of beer shandies (or whiskey on the porch watching sunsets) was always a part of “my Australia”. All the better that life expectancy now puts a good twenty to forty years of retirement on the Baby Boomers.

The single and indisputable reason for the introduction of compulsory superannuation was self-funded retirement. But Australian culture has significantly changed and we no longer want to leave a taxable penny for our children – if we can help it. We want to spend the money we saved. We want to retire and pluck that wealth from our accounts to buy a fishing boat or a Winnebago and have all those holidays we never got to enjoy.

Partly because we’ve watched our children sprawl out into the new world order of the current phase of globalisation (since the 70s) with gusto and abandon. We… want… our… share.

It comes down to equity. We want to retire with a splurge and then plonk ourselves back into the suburbs with a small amount of remaining cash to receive the 20 or 30 years of old age pension that we’ve earned and deserve. Never mind the idea of what superannuation was meant to achieve for Australia in the first instance. This, for heaven’s sake, is our Super Duper Christmas Club for retirement.

At this point I’d like to raise a glass to all those Baby Boomers who whined about all those people who were a burden to the Australian tax-base throughout their long and suffering working life. Because those people are about to become just like the unwashed poor. Broke. On a pension. A burden to the shrinking Australian tax-base. Eventually reviled as hangers-on.

The vast majority of Australians have long lost the entire concept of a self-funded retirement. We want the cash and the pension. And so be it.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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