Avoiding making a Burke of oneself

23 August 2019

Outsider does enjoy a good intellectual joust but he also knows when he is out of his league.

Thus, he enjoyed the discourse when he attended Super Review's Future of Superannuation event in Melbourne in mid-August where newly-elected NSW Liberal Senator and former Financial Services Council policy director, Andrew Bragg, espoused his views on the vested interests in superannuation prompting some intellectual rejoinders from Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) chief executive, Dr Martin Fahy.

Fahy, you see, was particularly animated about suggestions by Senator Bragg that the superannuation guarantee should be voluntary for those earning less than $50,000 – something which the egalitarian Irishman suggested failed on equity and other grounds.

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But what seemed most to give offence was the passing use by Bragg of a reference to the 18th century Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, prompting Fahy to assert that: “A lack of empathy for lower professionals is not about class warfare as some may think of it but rather the mark of a certain vulgarity/lack of moral elegance in an important debate which as early as the 18th century defined pension as a sacred”.

“It is important to maintain a certain moral elegance,” Fahy said before citing Burke’s reply to the somewhat portly and privileged Duke of Bedford who had seen fit to question

Burke’s own receipt of a pension after years of service to the Crown.

Burke’s reply to Bedford, whose ancestor had benefited of a pension due to their noble station was:

“I was not, like his grace of Bedford, swaddled, and rocked, and dandled into a legislator; ‘Nitor in adversum’ is the motto for a man like me.”

For those without Latin, Burke essentially said he had worked for whatever he got where, clearly Bedford had not.

So, there!

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Bragg seems to be much more wet than Bedford.

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