Fowl play in the Parliament

It was after dinner on the night of 25th November 1985 and a Labor parliamentarian and Tasmanian Liberal backbencher Bruce Goodluck was in a mischievous mood.


In those days the non-members bar stayed open till late at night with members, staffers and journalists socialising, arguing and sometimes dreaming up stunts.

It’s not known where Bruce Goodluck acquired his full length rooster’s suit but during the evening a Labor member dared him to put it on and go into the House.

Never one to resist a dare, the backbencher who crossed the floor eleven times during his parliamentary career donned the suit and charged down the corridor.

Entering the chamber through a door near the Speaker’s chair Goodluck took up a perch on the government front bench.

“When I look back I may be remembered more for that than all the other things I’ve done,” Goodluck said years later.

“The Deputy Speaker, [Allan Rocher] who was in the chair at that time, [said], ‘Remove that thing from the House,’ and with that, my feathers were ruffled, I decided to fly out.”

Goodluck was not apprehended and was never censured for the performance.

“Nobody dobbed me in, which I found to be very extraordinary,” he told the Museum of Australian Democracy.

Goodluck’s stunt was all in good humour.

In contrast Pauline Hanson’s burqa stunt a week ago was, at the very least, in bad taste and would have been out of order had the Senate rules of years gone by been applied.

Today senators have no dress requirements.

Hanson could presumably go into the chamber dressed as a chicken and no-one could challenge her.

But until at least the late 1960s Senators had to remove head coverings upon entering or leaving the chamber.

Nothing in the standing orders prevented a Senator wearing a head covering when seated but it was customary not to do so.

But every senator rising to speak had to do so without a head-covering.

Hanson was wearing her burqa when called to ask a question by the Senate President Stephen Parry, who knew who was hiding under the garment.

She removed her burqa to ask her question.

If anyone was in breach of the Senate standing orders it was probably the senators who applauded Attorney General George Brandis who condemned her stunt.

The standing orders of old say it’s okay to shout ‘hear, hear’ as a signal of approval but not to clap hands.

Senator Parry did call for order as senators clapped and Greens and Labor Senators rose in their seats to give Senator Brandis a standing ovation.

Senator Parry also called upon Senators to resume their seats but took no action to punish the misbehaviour.

He could hardly do otherwise.

Coalition senators, while not standing, were clapping too, leaving only Senator Hanson’s fellow party members silent and in their seats.

While the applause went on for some time, Senator Parry would have found himself in a tiny minority in the chamber had he tried to name and oust those who were ignoring his calls.

Head-coverings have long been a feature in the quirky world of British democracy.

To be counted when there is a division or vote in a chamber, members or senators are required to be seated.

They cannot rise to alert the speaker or president that they want the call to speak.

As a result if one of them wants to speak or make a point of order, he or she covers his or her head, usually with a sheet of paper.

This custom goes back to the old days of Parliament in Britain when members wore top hats.

Putting on their top hat enabled the speaker to see that a sitting member wanted to speak.

Members of parliament can use props to illustrate a speech.

Approval has been granted to items as diverse as flags, photographs, plants, a gold nugget, a bionic ear, a silicon chip, a flashing marker for air/sea rescue, a synthetic quartz crystal, superconducting ceramic, hemp fibres, and even a heroin cap which was produced in 1997 by Labor member Janice Crosio to illustrate the appalling drug trade in Cabramatta where children as young as 11 and 12 were “sitting in the frigid stairwells of car parks and the putrid stalls of public toilet blocks sticking used, dirty needles into their arms and injecting themselves with $30 hits of heroin.”

Generally speaking signs and scorecard ratings of a member’s performance are not allowed. But if members think it’s worth the publicity they take their chances.

When in 1977 Treasurer John Howard promised a fistful of dollars in tax cuts and then raised taxes the Illawarra Mercury screamed ‘Liar, Liar’ on its front page.

Labor members couldn’t resist the temptation to wave the front page of the paper in his face when he rose to speak.

Readers will not be surprised to find that it’s not in order to display a weapon in the house and in these days of increased security it’s unlikely that even a member would be allowed to bring one into the building.

But in 2014 Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan brandished a fake pipe bomb at a committee hearing to make a point about lax security at Parliament House.

Other props are problematic.

In 1985 the speaker ordered a member to remove two petrol cans he had brought into the chamber to make a point about the price of fuel.

You will not be surprised to hear that the culprit was Bruce Goodluck.

28/09/2019 苏州美甲学校

Why your health is the x-factor in retirement planning

Against all expectations I find myself living into my 70s. I was a girl of 19 when I bought my first lot of shares. I was savvy, but declining health and age has caught up with me. I missed out on super as I was self-employed, sold up all but the largest property I owned, and travelled the world for five years. I thought I had it all planned into the future to 2013. I’m still here. My needs are about $40,000 to $50,000 a year. Since 2005 I’ve suffered poor health, so far this year I’ve spent more than $15,000 in medical expenses and I’m in the top health cover. I receive aged care assistance, 13 hours a week run through ACAT, so the Government pays two-thirds towards this care. I am now on a part age pension of $77 a fortnight and with a share portfolio worth about $450,000. I have a $64,000 NAB shareholder’s investment loan on the shares taken out in 2002, with interest now 6.09 per cent. I want to rid myself of the mortgage as Centrelink does not classify it as a deduction, and hospitalisation threatens again. Are you able to claim medical expenses on tax returns? I own a number of small shareholdings, the bane of my life. Would I be better to sell them as I’m sure Centrelink do not deem them? P.A.


Centrelink values your entire portfolio every March and September and subjects financial investments, such as shares, to deeming, the thresholds for which were indexed up from July 1 to $50,200 for singles ($83,400 for couples). The deeming rates remain 1.75 per cent up to the threshold and 3.25 per cent for further amounts.

I can see why you would want to pay off the mortgage and while I generally advocate eliminating debt in retirement, there are some situations where one needs to think things through. Much depends on the shares you bought.

For example, let’s assume you bought CBA in late January 2002 at $32.56, when adjusted for subsequent share issues. The total dividend in calendar 2002 was $1.51 or 4.6 per cent on your investment.

In 2016-17, the total dividend is $4.29, equivalent to a 13.2 per cent return on your original investment. It’s the reason that a “buy and hold” strategy is so profitable when you invest in a company that shows good earnings and dividend growth. Of course, if you feel forced to sell, then the current share price around $78 means you can pay off a large part of the loan, or you can sell less-successful shares.

If small shareholdings are the bane of your life, by all means sell them, you have enough to worry about. Put the money towards paying off some of the loan.

Expenses paid to an approved aged-care provider can be used to claim a net medical expenses tax offset to reduce your tax. For the 2016-17 year, a single person with an “adjusted taxable income” up to $90,000 can claim 20 per cent of medical expenses, less refunds, above $2299, with different figures for higher incomes. Check the calculator on the ATO website.

I’m a healthy, self-funded retiree aged 65 and have a super pension fund set up with 67 per cent in a balanced option and 33 per cent in cash. My pension is paid from my cash option. I have not rebalanced the fund as yet, and it is now out of kilter. I am considering diverting all dividends from balanced into cash to ensure I have sufficient funds in cash for seven to 10 years of pension payments. L.C.

I must admit, I’m not totally in favour of automatic rebalancing because it usually means taking money from a successful investment option and inserting it into a less-successful fund, although the reverse can happen during weak sharemarkets.

Of course, if your original growth investment has proved wildly successful and has quintupled over time, then there are grounds to consider taking some “money off the table”, as traders say, but that’s unlikely to happen in normal times in a balanced fund, which is designed to offer reduced volatility.

I’m also not convinced that keeping seven to 10 years worth of pension in cash really works to your benefit over a decade or so. It can mean investing up to half the fund in cash, thus guaranteeing a low return and increasing the chances you will run out of money.

As long as you understand that all markets are volatile, I prefer to put 80 to 90 per cent in a mix of balanced and diversified funds (as some are more successful over others any given period), all of which have a portion invested in cash and fixed interest, with the balance in a growth or equity fund.

If you cannot live with volatility, and I know some people cannot, then you should consider placing half the money into a guaranteed annuity, although annuity rates, along with interest rates, are currently low.

Having been born in February 1961, and thus recently reached my superannuation preservation age, I am thinking about reducing my hours of work. I have heard a transition to retirement pension scheme might allow me to salary sacrifice all or part of my wage into my super, then take advantage of the reduced taxation amount (15 per cent, I believe) when it is withdrawn. I have also heard that the government was looking to change the TTR setup and am wondering if these laws have been passed. Would the tax saving from my current 37 per cent rate, down to 15 per cent through the TTR scheme, offset the loss of earnings due to the reduction of hours worked? W.H.

It’s a bit more complex. Let me explain. Since July 1, a TTR pension fund is taxed 15 per cent on its income, that is the same rate as a superannuation fund in the “accumulation” phase. This became law last November.

The TTR pension you receive (up to 10 per cent of the fund) continues to be tax free in your hands once you are aged 60 or over. Between one’s preservation age, now 56, at which a working person can begin a TTR pension, and 59, the pension payments are taxed in your hands. It may only be partially taxed since only the taxable component of the pension payment is added to your assessable income. If you have been adding non-concessional contributions, then these form the tax-free component and are not taxable. Your tax is then reduced by an offset equal to 15 per cent of the taxable component.

If your strategy is to make the maximum $25,000 concessional contribution, and then replace this with a $25,000 pension then, if there is no tax-free component, there is no tax benefit while under age 60.

To illustrate, if you earn $120,000 and sacrifice $25,000, you have reduced your overall taxable income to $95,000 and remain in the 37 per cent tax bracket (plus 2 per cent Medicare Levy). Your $25,000 salary sacrifice is taxed at 15 per cent in the super fund and you save 22 per cent tax.

However, if you replace this with a $25,000 fully taxable TTR pension, the tax at 37 per cent is reduced by the 15 per cent tax offset to 22 per cent. In other words, the amount saved is balanced by the tax paid on pension payments, so there is no net savings. There will be a useful tax benefit if a large portion of the pension fund consists of the tax-free component, otherwise best to wait until age 60.

As I say, just a bit more complex.

If you have a question for George Cochrane, send it to Personal Investment, PO Box 3001, Tamarama, NSW, 2026. Help lines: Financial Ombudsman, 1300 780 808; pensions, 13 23 00.


ASIC handed CBA advanced copy of CommInsure Report

Australia’s corporate watchdog has defended a decision to hand the Commonwealth Bank an advance copy of a report into its handling of life insurance claims before it was made public.


The report, into the bank’s troubled life insurance business CommInsure, was looking into the bank’s practice of using outdated medical definitions to deny insurance claims, first exposed in a joint Four Corners/Fairfax Media investigation.

Emails between senior staff at ASIC, obtained under freedom-of-information laws, show the Commonwealth Bank repeatedly asked for a copy of the report and media release before it was released publicly.

“[Commonwealth Bank] reiterated to me their request for a copy of … public report the day before the release of the media release and public report by ASIC,” a senior analyst at ASIC wrote in an email on March 20 – three days before the report was made public.

An ASIC spokesman confirmed the report and media release were provided to the Commonwealth Bank within 24 hours of its public release, but said it was for only to “invite feedback on the factual accuracy”.

“We may, at our discretion, give advance notice of a public statement about a regulatory outcome to an interested party,” he said.

A Commonwealth Bank spokesman said fact-checking statements prior to their release was an important and routine part of the regulatory process.

“Our contact with ASIC on this occasion was entirely consistent with that routine engagement,” he said.

ASIC has been caught in the past relying on incorrect numbers provided by the Commonwealth Bank.

In May 2014, ASIC had to correct its testimony to a Senate inquiry after it misreported the number of Commonwealth Bank customers who had been offered compensation assistance as part of the bank’s financial planning scandal. At the time, ASIC said it had relied on figures provided by the Commonwealth Bank.

In the past, it has also been caught out sharing draft press releases with banks, as revealed in Freedom-of-Information documents obtained by News Corporation newspapers.

The emails revealed an often cosy relationship between banks and the regulator, with banks allowed input into the tone of press releases.

Andy Schmulow, a specialist in financial regulation at the University of Western Australia, dismissed ASIC’s claim that sharing media releases and reports was important for fact checking purposes.

“I question why it is that ASIC doesn’t have enough confidence in its factual findings, that it feels it necessary to double check – some may say obtain the blessing of – those about whom the facts are stated,” he said.

“If ASIC is only willing to enter to into discussions about factual issues, why is it that ASIC doesn’t have enough confidence in its understanding of the factual issues that it says, ‘we don’t need your comment on this because this is what we know’.”

He said sharing investigation reports was potentially more serious than just sharing media releases.

“These are not just opinions being expressed in the media, these are the outcomes of investigations,” he said.

“Can ASIC point to a section or part of the Corporations Act or the ASIC Act which compels them to do this – if they can’t point to anything in the legislation, then this is not a legal compulsion, it is a choice.”


The real reason retirees keep their big homes

Older Australians in retirement often find themselves asset rich yet cash poor. This is a widespread problem with a seemingly obvious solution: sell off the family home, buy something smaller and live off what’s left.


Yet the large majority of older Australians are choosing to stay put.

Despite government efforts to provide significant incentives for potential downsizers, the preference among retirees is to continue living in their big houses.

Research suggests the amount of time people spend looking after grandchildren has increased over the past few years. Photo: Glenn Hunt

Are retirees acting irrationally? Recent work in the economics of the elderly has a lot of say about this trend in both Sydney and Melbourne, or in Australia in general. The body of research essentially says that in terms of choosing to keep their big homes, the retired elderly are acting wisely and rationally.

I’ll explain why. First let’s note this trend is not unique to Australia. A significant proportion of the elderly population in advanced economies, including Canada, France, Germany and the United States, keep a substantial portion of their assets until late in life.

On average, the financial wealth of households (in various forms) in these economies has been shown to increase until age 70 and then stay almost constant after that. The family home is often the largest and most visible asset that elderly people hold on to in their twilight years.

In Australia, the biggest hurdle by far is the high transaction costs when downsizing. Stamp duties for new residences, agent’s fees and moving costs are among the key ones that worry empty nesters. And while many are confident that they can sell their family homes at a good price, and have a lot of cash left after they purchase a smaller new home, the current rules on means-testing mean they risk losing their age pension if they have significant money left over.

In May this year, the budget had a proposal to allow retirees who downsize to contribute the excess money into superannuation, which would provide tax advantages. Three months on, nothing has changed and the uncertainty is a significant disincentive for retirees to downsize.

But discussion of the transaction costs and age pension assets test ignores another economic reason why retirees stay put: the increased utility people get from their homes after retirement. In fact, economic research points to time, or time use, as the main explanatory element. The amount of time on their hands is, of course, the main distinguishing factor between those who still work and those who are retired.

For recent retirees, non-market time is suddenly in abundance, and this necessarily alters how they allocate their hours in the day. It’s been a few years since the last Australian Time Use Survey, but the most recent figures suggest people aged 65-74 spend more time cooking, cleaning, doing the laundry, sewing and gardening than those aged 55-64. This coincides with retirement.

The survey further suggests that time spent in household activities increases until the mid 70s and then decreases only slightly, perhaps due to a deterioration in health. Time spent looking after grandchildren has also increased over the past few years.

Clearly, retirees produce more goods at home after retirement. For example, time-poor working parents would be more likely to contract a garden service to do the lawn mowing because of the high opportunity cost of doing the chore themselves – either in wages (if they have to take time off work for it) or precious time spent with the kids or other family. But with retirement, the opportunity cost of time decreases, so doing chores rather than outsourcing them becomes more appealing.

What does this have to do with housing, and with big houses in general?

In economics terms, it comes down to something called the “time-use adjusted theory of life cycle consumption”. This asserts that time used for home production is highly associated with the house someone occupies. This is because the house serves as an infrastructure base in which home production can occur.

For retirees, the more time one has, the greater amount of home production is done and therefore the greater the need for a house. Since most retirees are empty nesters whose sizeable homes were once filled with at least two children, the family home is the ideal base to support their renewed focus on home production.

The more home production that is done inside a home, the greater the consumption value or utility of the home. This relationship is self-reinforcing. On food production, for instance, newly retired Australians who find new food recipes can use their kitchens more intensively. With new dishes to offer, they can invite more family and friends for home-cooked dinners far more often than when they were working.

If retirees were keen gardeners, they are more likely to spend more time tending their gardens and keeping the grass low and their plants blooming, which also makes it a good showpiece for visiting family and friends. With clean homes, pretty gardens and good home-cooked food, there is more incentive to stay home rather than eat out. Further, a well-cared, spacious home is an ideal place to care for grandchildren.

More generally, the family home is a place where retirees can welcome back and comfortably accommodate their children’s families once in a while.

How that affects the time of older Australians can mean the difference between staying put or downsizing. This is, of course, directly related to energy levels and how they enjoy spending their time. That’s a question for individuals, but economists would say that the bulk of retirees aged between 65 and 75 who choose to stay put are perfectly rational in choosing to do so.

Dr Rebecca Valenzuela is a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics at Monash University.


Financial abuse of elderly parents rising with house prices

???Parents are increasingly being bullied into downsizing prematurely and even threatened with not being able to see their grandchildren if they don’t give their kids an early inheritance to allow them to enter the housing market, it’s been claimed.


Following Fairfax Media’s exclusive report that one in four Gen Y Australians are now relying on an inheritance to be able to afford to buy a house, advocates for older people have come forward to report a marked rise in pressure from families to hand over their money.

“We’re seeing this kind of inter-generational financial abuse really growing,” says Meagan Lawson, CEO of the Council on the Ageing (COTA) NSW. “It starts as, ‘Can I borrow ????’ But over time it becomes quite abusive where people feel they have to give money to keep harmony in the family.

“I think it’s a relatively new thing, probably because of problems of housing affordability, but this is where the growth is in the financial abuse of older people.”

This “inheritance impatience” can have dire consequences on their lives too, Ms Lawson says. Some are forced into retirement villages too early, some are coerced into complying with their children’s wishes through withdrawal of access to grandchildren and others are “persuaded” to move in with family, sell their homes and hand over the proceeds.

When this goes wrong, it can even, in some cases, lead to homelessness, advises lawyer Faith Hawthorne.

The revelations follow the publication of a survey of 1000 Australians commissioned by Slater and Gordon Lawyers, which found that 26 per cent of millennials said they had, or would need to, rely on an inheritance windfall to purchase the home they wanted.

Slater and Gordon associate Lara Nurpuri said that had led to more young people asking their parents to ‘Give me the money!’ as an early inheritance, sometimes creating tensions in the family, or going to court after their parents’ death to fight for a bigger share of the proceeds. Related: Gen Y’s relying on inheritanceRelated: Problem of ageing parents downsizingRelated: Inheriting property can cause strife

But now an even darker side of the trend is emerging, as professionals who work with older Australians say some parents and even grandparents are suffering terribly from their kids’ greed.

Kerry Marshall, manager of the NSW Elder Abuse Helpline and Resource Unit, says the number of calls to the helpline is increasing and, anecdotally, professionals are reporting more cases of kids being after their parents’ money. A growing sense of entitlement, particularly from millennials, where children see themselves as having a right to their parents’ money is also fuelling “inheritance conservation”.

“Here, the adult children want to preserve their parents’ money for themselves, so they aren’t spending any of it on the care of their parents, and we’re seeing a lot of neglect linked to this financial abuse,” Ms Marshall says.

A new pilot program started last week in NSW, after its successful introduction in Victoria two and a half years ago, to have solicitors in healthcare centres where they can counsel older people who tell their doctor they’re having problems.

Justice Connect lawyer Ms Hawthorne says financial abuse by family members is “definitely” the most common type of abuse they’re reporting.

“The most common scenarios are where there’s been misuse of their power of attorney or where an older person sells their property or mortgages it, giving the sales proceeds or the equity in their home to their son or daughter.

“They might do this in the expectation that their child will then be providing care for them in return, but often this isn’t discussed in any detail beforehand, and sometimes it doesn’t happen, or arrangements break down.”

A NSW Legislative Council inquiry into elder abuse last year also found that financial abuse is one of the most common forms of elder abuse.

Among the cases it reported was a granddaughter who tried to transfer her grandmother’s house into her name for $1 in return for a verbal promise of care and a son who transferred his 92-year-old incapacitated mum’s house to himself, also for $1.


Maccas defends not paying weekend penalty rates

Josh Cullinan, the union official who exposed the dodgy deal between Coles and the SDA union. Photo: PENNY STEPHENS. The Age. 2ND JUNE 2016 Fast food giant McDonald’s has defended not paying its workers weekend penalty rates as it came under pressure over a controversial wage deal estimated to leave nearly two-thirds of its workforce underpaid.


Senior executives at the burger chain were quizzed at a Senate inquiry on Friday about its agreement with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) that pays no weekend and very limited late-night penalties.

The inquiry comes after a Fairfax Media investigation in 2016 found the agreement would result in nearly two-thirds of McDonald’s workers being paid less than the award – the minimum pay and conditions safety net.

The findings were based on hundreds of payslips and the leaking of an entire store’s roster that showed 63 per cent of employees at a large Sydney outlet were paid less than the award.

On Friday, Greens senator Lee Rhiannon cited pay records of an adult worker at McDonald’s who she said was more than $4000 a year worse off under the union deal when compared to the award. She also highlighted the case of a 17-year-old casual worker who was nearly $2000 a year worse off.

McDonald’s senior vice-president Craig Cawood defended the agreement and the higher hourly wages it paid.

However, he conceded that the burger giant had not conducted a financial analysis to check if workers were being paid less than the award overall.

“I don’t, in some ways, accept the premise of the question,” he said, noting that workers had voted for the deal and the Fair Work Commission in 2013 had approved it. He said he didn’t know whether McDonald’s would “employ the same number of people” if it had to pay award wages.

There are two separate Senate inquiries underway that stem from a 12 month Fairfax Media investigation into agreements between the SDA and big employers, trading penalties and other loadings. The deals are conservatively estimated to have left more than 250,000 workers paid less than the award and saved Australia’s biggest employers more than $300 million a year.

In 2016, the full bench of the Fair Work Commission, in a landmark decision, quashed an agreement between Coles and the SDA as it failed the “better off overall test”. Evidence in that Coles case showed 56 per cent of workers were paid less than the minimum award rates.

In the Senate hearings this week McDonald’s and major employers, such as KFC and Woolworths, claimed they had not done an analysis to determine whether their workers were worse off but noted that their agreements had been approved by the tribunal.

Those agreements were approved, though, before the Coles decision last year and the Fair Work Commission says it now has a more thorough approach to checking whether workers were paid enough.

The inquiry on Friday also heard evidence from five workers from companies including Coles, Woolworths and Myer, on SDA agreements that they said had left them paid below award rates.

Coles worker David Suter said he was losing between $1500 to $2100 a year from the agreement. “Every hour and every shift I work attracts reduced penalty rates when compared to the award,” he said. “I’m not looking for a handout. I want a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.”

The workers were part of a submission from new union the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union, which was set up late last year.

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan called for a fresh parliamentary inquiry to investigate the fine detail of how many workers had been underpaid. He accused big employers of deliberately not having done those calculations or analysis.

It was time, he said, for parliament to “dig behind this and do the investigation that others have not”.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer this week defended the union’s record and said loaded rates – where penalty rates are traded off for higher hourly rates – had been part of the system for decades.

He also again said the Coles decision involved a new interpretation of the law, although this has been strongly disputed.

McDonald’s Craig Cawood also supported a separate decision by the Fair Work Commission this year to cut penalty rates in fast food and retail.

He said the finding was consistent with the views of McDonald’s workers that the existing Sunday penalty rate was “neither fair or relevant”.

“As I acknowledge, the change to penalty rates does not affect us,” Mr Cawood said. Labor Senator Gavin Marshall responded that it was not possible to cut penalty rates from zero at McDonald’s.

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Your credit score could make or break your love life

She’s a 793? Swipe right!


It turns out credit scores are statistical shorthand for a whole lot more than the likelihood you’ll repay a loan, according to a number of consumer surveys and academic studies.

One study, released two years ago, looked at consumer credit data over 15 years and found that the higher the year-end credit score, the likelier the person was to form a romantic relationship over the next year.

Now comes a survey from Discover Financial Services and Match Media Group, parent of Tinder and other dating sites, that shows just how appealing a good credit score can be. Financial responsibility was ranked as a very or extremely important quality in a potential mate by 69 per cent of the 2,000 online daters surveyed.

That placed it ahead of sense of humour (67 per cent), attractiveness (51 per cent), ambition (50 per cent), courage (42 per cent), and modesty (39 per cent). A good credit score was associated with being responsible, trustworthy, and smart.

That’s right. These amorous respondents effectively put credit score 18 points ahead of cute.

Other salacious details:

Those dating-app pictures of people in cool cars or cute gym outfits? Nah, gimme a scorching 810. A good credit score is more appealing than a nice car, said 58 per cent of those surveyed. More people might swipe right if daters put up a screenshot of that red-hot percentage.

“If you’ve got a pretty good credit score, you probably have other good personality traits,” said biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Match苏州美甲学校’s chief scientific adviser and a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute.

“You’re not only managing your money, you’re managing your family, your friends. You’re kind of a managing person. It says a lot more about you than a fancy car.” She even called it “an honest indicator of who you really are.”

She even called it a “Darwinian mechanism for measuring your reproductive ability.” (!) Increasing the odds for romance

There is something to this. What do people want in a mate? Many want someone who is responsible, dependable, willing to commit, and able to maintain a relationship. What does it take to get a good credit score? Mostly a long history of responsibility, dependability, and careful maintenance of accounts. Both sexes in the survey valued financial responsibility highly – 77 per cent of females and 61 per cent of men.

Beth Rahn, a vice president for a private equity firm in Chicago and a user of online dating sites, is one of the 77 per cent. Rahn, 30, thinks asking directly about the credit score on a first date would be a “quick way to scare someone off.” And if a date bragged about an 810 out of the blue, it would be a turnoff.

But if the two of them were commiserating about loans or rates, say, and the 810 came up that way, she said, “my immediate reaction would be that they are responsible, on top of their expenses, they’ve been able to effectively manage debt in the past, whether it’s student loan debt, credit card debt or a mortgage.” Other salacious details:

Dating someone whose score is similar to yours when you meet increases the odds the relationship will succeed, a 2015 paper, Credit Scores and Committed Relationships, found. When you meet, because married couples’ credit scores tend to converge over time.

The authors analysed 15 years of data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Consumer Credit Panel/Equifax, which covers millions of consumers and provided detailed credit record information.

People “with higher credit scores are more likely to form committed relationships relative to other observably similar individuals” and more likely to maintain relationships, the authors found. They identified committed relationships by creating an algorithm to spot the formation and dissolution of marriages and long-term cohabitation.

The bigger the mismatch in scores when daters meet, the higher the likelihood the relationship won’t work out in the long run, the data showed. For example, between two couples, one with scores of 700 each and another with scores of 660 and 730, the second couple would have greater odds of separating.

But this is no statistics lesson. This is lo-o-o-ove. Just look:

Mind you, it’s also true that people with excellent credit scores are likelier than those with bad scores to be frequent exercisers and bigger fans of Charlie Rose than of Jimmy Kimmel, and to prefer hockey to soccer and dogs to cats. And Taylor Swift to Kanye West. That’s according to a 2016 WalletHub survey of 1,000 consumers.

Even if we accept that the score is a proxy for inclinations and tastes, guiding us toward people in the same socioeconomic circles with similar financial behaviours, can that 810 really release a rush of dopamine?

Perhaps not, Fisher allowed, noting that dopamine is the brain chemical associated with feelings of intense romantic love. But there is a different brain system in which “it could really stimulate some of the molecular structure for attachment,” she said. That system is tied to mating and reproduction and involves feelings of deep attachment. A credit score could trigger feelings about reliability and responsibility and trustworthiness, which could trigger that attachment system, she said.

At any rate (and that rate will depend on your credit score), daters may want to trust but verify. A survey done earlier this year for student loan company SoFi found that nearly 24 per cent of respondents said a date or partner had lied to them about how much debt they carried. The 2,000 millennial daters surveyed said debt was the second-biggest potential deal-breaker, behind workaholism.

That may explain why 40 per cent said they’d rather talk about their socially transmitted diseases than their debt. ‘Maybe more defining than sex’

In the Discover/Match survey, only 7 per cent of online daters said they would provide information on their credit score, debt level, income, and spending habits before meeting a date. For most people, the soonest they’d feel comfortable sharing financial details is sometime in the first six months of a relationship.

“It can be difficult enough to find someone you’re compatible with, so to suddenly go from this emotional connection to this practical part of your brain, it can seem incredibly clinical, and you don’t want that,” said Adam Scott, a financial planner at Westside Investment Management in Santa Monica, California.

“But if you don’t pay attention in the beginning, you aren’t building your relationship on a sound footing, and it will come back to haunt you.” Being on the same basic page financially will “ultimately be one of the predictors of the success of the relationship,” he said. “It will be one of the defining things, maybe even more than sex.”

People may be hesitant to reveal their credit scores now, but “the data suggest that it might become the norm over time,” said Kate Manfred, vice president of brand communications and consumer insights for Discover.

She envisions a day when people “do duelling phones and you pull up your scores right there, in under 60 seconds. You pull out your phone and say, ‘Look, here’s my credit score, what’s yours? Let’s swap.’ “

Or, as Shakespeare wrote:

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun

Her sweetest gift, a lambent 801.”



Catholics defy church leadership to become biggest backers of same-sex marriage: poll

Archbishop Denis Hart wants Catholics to vote ”no”. Photo: Eddie Jim.A majority of Catholics, Christians and other religious groups support same-sex marriage and are inclined to vote for it in the forthcoming postal survey, according to new polling commissioned by advocates.


The “yes” side starts the campaign with the backing of 66 per cent of all Australians, with support among the non-religious at 79 per cent, compared with 58 per cent among people of faith, the research shows.

Catholics and non-Christian religions were more likely to support same-sex marriage, with two thirds of both those groups indicating they were in favour. For Anglicans, Uniting Church and Church of England, the figure was 59 per cent.

Marriage equality advocates will use the findings to encourage Australia’s 5 million Catholics to ignore directives from the church’s leadership and instead vote with their conscience.

The polling was commissioned by the Equality Campaign. It was conducted last week by Jim Reed of Newgate Research, formerly of Liberal-aligned Crosby/Textor, and surveyed 1000 people online.

They were asked: “If you were to vote, do you think that you would vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to allowing same-sex couples to marry in Australia?” Respondents had to choose between “yes” and “no”.

Mr Reed said the margin of error within each religious category was up to 8 per cent. But even at the maximum margin of error, a majority of people in each group supported same-sex marriage. The overall margin of error was 3 per cent.

The results echoed a survey by Crosby/Textor in 2014, which also found two thirds of Catholics backed same-sex marriage, and put the overall level of support at 72 per cent.

“It really confirms a lot of the other published polls that around two thirds, that is a majority, are intending to vote yes,” Mr Reed told Fairfax Media.

“What we’re seeing in this latest poll is confirmation that there is a majority support for same-sex marriage, even when they’re given the very real decision of a vote rather than more general ideological support.

“They give an indication certainly that a majority of people of the major faiths also support same-sex marriage and probably will do so in this vote.”

Last Sunday, Fairfax Media revealed the Catholic Church was threatening to sack any of its 180,000 teachers, nurses and other parish employees who entered a same-sex marriage, if it were to be legalised.

Subsequently, Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart issued a collective call to arms, telling followers in a letter: “It is vital that we Catholics vote, so that our viewpoint can be heard on this vital public issue.”

But the polling suggests the Catholic leadership is out of touch with its base, 66 per cent of whom said they were inclined to vote for same-sex marriage in the coming postal survey.

“The upper management of the church isn’t listening to the flock,” said Tiernan Brady, executive director of the Equality Campaign and a practising Catholic. “The flock have made their mind up on this, they support marriage equality.”

Monica Doumit, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Marriage, said despite the poll results people of faith “continue to be concerned” about the implications of same-sex marriage for religious freedom.

“This is about more than the narrow protections offered to professional clergy,” she said. Rather, it was about the ability for religious people to express their view on marriage without fear of intimidation.


Push for more flexible family-friendly hours

Owen Wareham and his daughter, 9 month old Harriet and wife, Karla play in Wentworth Park, together on Saturday, August 26, 2017. Photo by Cole BennettsMost working Australians are too scared to ask for more flexible hours to juggle family caring responsibilities because they are worried about job security, a national survey has found.


Owen Wareham, was nervous about asking to reduce his hours in a marketing job after his daughter Harriet was born nine months ago. But his Sydney employer has been very supportive in allowing him to reduce his hours from five to four days a week at its Brisbane office.

The arrangement allows him to care for Harriet one day a week and his wife cares for her two days, with the remaining two days spent in childcare.

Mr Wareham plans to eventually return to five days a week when Harriet is older.

“I was quite apprehensive about asking at first, but once I asked everyone at work was supportive, so it was pretty straightforward,” he said.

“Part of the reason I wanted to do it was our baby is a little girl and I wanted to model good behaviour her. I didn’t want her to grow up only seeing women as carers.”

A new survey has found 60 per cent of more than 5400 Australians surveyed have never asked for reduced hours to assist with family life and caring responsibilities with many citing job security or a workplace culture that does not support flexible work.

It also found that almost 40 per cent of workers have asked their employer for reduced hours for caring and almost a quarter of had been knocked back. Employers were 50 per cent more likely to reject a male worker’s request for reduced hours.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions, which commissioned the survey, has applied to the Fair Work Commission for a new entitlement for all workers to temporarily reduce their hours to help them manage parenting or other caring responsibilities.

The Commission will hear the case in December and determine whether all modern awards should be changed to provide employees with an entitlement to reduce their hours for a period before returning to full-time work.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said many people are stopped from providing family care because workplace laws and rules had not kept up with modern life.

“Whether a dentist in Newcastle, a security guard in Sydney or a teacher in Melbourne, working women and men have told us that juggling both caring for family and working is a major issue for their lives,” Ms Kearney said.

“The cost on individuals and families is enormous, with some survey participants estimating they are doing in excess of $50,000 a year in unpaid caring for a family member.

“Many of the survey respondents said their workplace culture was not flexible and others said they did not ask their employer for reduced working hours because they feared they would get sacked. This is the disgraceful reality of our modern workplaces.”

In its submission to the Fair Work Commission, the ACTU argued that access to flexible working arrangements is arbitrary and unable to be enforced or when granted, can involve a downgrading in the status or security of their work.

The ACTU submission to the Fair Work Commission says that for too long the starting point for accommodating family responsibilities has been the assumption that all employees will be available to work full-time and a case needs to be made to departure from that norm.

“The ACTU’s application seeks to tilt the starting point to a more equitable and realistic position, where it is accepted that employees must reconcile work and family responsibilities, and to align workplace norms to the reality of workers’ lives,” the submission says.

It will on Sunday launch a new campaign to “change the rules for working women and families”, with its new survey results showing that 85 per cent of working Australians also have significant family caring and/or parenting responsibilities.

“The ACTU wants a new right for all Australian workers, especially women who predominantly carry the caring load, to have the right to part-time or reduced hours temporarily while they have important family caring responsibilities,” Ms Kearney said.

“We are using all our legal options to make this a reality for working women and families.”

ACTU survey findings:

??? Almost 85% of Australians have or have had a caring role;

??? 65% had cared for a child of school age or younger

??? 27% had cared for someone frail or aged

??? 25% had cared for someone with a medical condition

??? 14% had cared for someone with a mental illness.

??? Almost 40% of workers have asked their employer for reduced hours for caring and almost a quarter of these had been knocked back;

??? Almost one in two workers needs access to reduced hours for caring;

??? Women are almost twice as likely to ask for reduced hours for caring;

??? Employers are 50% more likely to reject a male worker’s request for reduced hours;

??? Inflexible workplace culture is the reason most cited for workers not asking for reduced hours to care for a family member;

??? Nearly one in five workers surveyed was not able to access reduced hours needed for caring responsibilities.


Dear Australia Post, please can I have a job?

Dear, very dear, Australia Post board,


May I please have a job? I’m lovin’ ya work, particularly on executive pay, and reckon I could provide fabulous value to you and the nation for, say, a couple of mill. The public outcry about the $10.8 million this year to outgoing premier postie Ahmed Fahour is bloody outrageous. How could anyone be so churlish, so ignorant, to question the notion that public-sector executives absolutely must be paid at least as much as those in the private sector?

Ahmed is clearly worth more than almost every private sector chief executive. The punters simply don’t appreciate that, as you say, you keep executive salaries “in line with community expectations”. You clearly nailed that for ages, but you do seem to be slipping; the maximum of $2.75 million a year you’re giving Ahmed’s successor, Christine Holgate, looks positively parsimonious. At least you’re respecting the unimpeachable practice of paying women far less than men.

All those nitpickers whingeing about the stagnant real wages of most of the other 50,000 Australia Post employees are appalling, too. And, as for the carping about you trying to conceal Ahmed’s salary, well, that’s even more disappointing. As you tried so doggedly to convince that annoying, tacky Senate estimates committee (oh, the things public enterprises have to endure), salary details are, well, personal and sensitive and should be suppressed because individuals “may become targets for unwarranted media attention” which could lead, you fear, to brand damage. Nah.

After all, you were only using the cracking cover given to you a few years back by the Coalition through its crackling red-tape bonfire. But now Tony Abbott’s gone and the government has decided it might be a better idea to revert to publishing the figure. But surely they’re over the top by putting salaries in the hands of the Remuneration Tribunal. What a vote of confidence. What the hell do they think you are, a publicly owned enterprise or something?

Look, you might just need some communications trouble-shooting. I’m your man. Really. Bugger journalism; it’s no way to afford the right stuff in life. My CV is in the mail. If it’s not there by, say, Christmas, I’ll FedEx it – or get Ahmed to pop it in to you if he comes to see if you might be able to slip him a festive season bonus. Some of us understand he richly deserves it. Tell him the cheque’s in the mail. And, above all, remember that accountability, transparency and governance are for wimps.


Michael Short is The Age’s chief editorial writer and a columnist.