Former minister Craig Laundy, a close friend of Malcolm Turnbull, has finally confirmed he will quit at the election, leaving the Liberals highly vulnerable in his marginal Sydney seat of Reid.
Laundy said he needed to spend more time with his family, who had faced challenges over the past 12 months.
His exit has been anticipated for months. Scott Morrison failed to talk him into recontesting and then reportedly asked him to delay while a search was underway to find a strong candidate.
Reid is on a margin of less than 5%. Labor’s candidate, Sam Crosby, has already a well-established campaign running in the seat.
Laundy previously held various frontbench positions, culminating in the post of minister for small and family business, the workplace and deregulation in the Turnbull government.
But after the overthrow of Turnbull he said he did not want to be considered for the ministry in the Morrison reshuffle.
Laundy said in a statement on Friday: “The reality of modern politics is that, more often than not, a member of parliament has to put their constituents ahead of their family, something I’ve done over the past six years.
“It’s now time to focus on my family, who I have spent so much time away from”.
He said over the past year, his family had faced a number of challenges, “and as a father, husband and son, I’ve made the difficult decision to quit politics to put them first”.
Emphasising his family’s long association with the area of his electorate, Laundy said: “In the years to come, I will be able to walk around this part of Sydney with the fifth generation of my family, my grandkids, and be able to point to things and proudly say, ‘You know what, Grandpa had something to do with that.’”
Laundy’s planned departure follows announcements by a number of senior government figures that they will not contest the election.
Australia is ranked in the top third of countries in almost all indices measuring the best countries to retire, according to our analysis of nine separate ageing and retirement indices.
The problem is, experts contriving such indices can’t agree about which ingredients should be included and which are most important.
The flaw of averages
While composite ageing indices provide us with what appear as simple comparisons, the underlying methodologies are complex, prone to judgement, and can be tweaked to obtain certain results.
Using indicators that aggregate outcomes for the older population within a country also ignores differences between people within this population. Sub-indices by gender and more granular age-groups do exist, but one improvement could include an inequality adjustment based on outcomes by socioeconomic status or income.
What about just asking people about their life? Studies that compare differences in people’s own evaluations of life across countries show these are substantially explained by social and economic differences across countries. And when comparing individuals in high-income countries such as Australia and Britain, good physical and mental health appear most correlated with life satisfaction, while in middle-income countries like Indonesia, income is more important.
But that doesn’t differentiate by age. When the OECD asked older people across rich countries what mattered to them, they said that “health” and “environment” were most important while “civic engagement”, “community” and “income” domains were less so. By contrast, younger groups attributed less weight to “environment” and more to “income”.
Such indices usually involve scoring a country in several categories and combining these into a composite score and ranking. Done well, these can reveal how life in one location is better than another and in which categories it is lagging.
So what do existing indices suggest is important for older people’s well-being? And which countries come out on top?
Ingredients for a good old age
The ingredients used in an overall index differ, ranging from the employment rates of older people in each country, to their political participation, income, levels of exercise, and life expectancy.
These indicators and weights are often chosen subjectively by experts constructing each index. Some comparisons focus on current standards of living and comprise social, environmental, health, and economic indicators. These are probably more immediately relevant to people.
By contrast, indices that aim to measure the likely future for older people mostly comprise financial indicators and those that relate to retirement income system design, demography, and economic conditions. These are probably of greater concern for those thinking ahead about the impacts of population ageing.
Where to retire?
Despite the flaws with such comparisons, few people can help themselves. So how does your country rank?
European countries – particularly Nordic ones – are consistently highly ranked across ageing indices (see figure below). Such results reflect their high health outcomes, high incomes, generous social welfare, and comparatively well-designed retirement income systems. These are also countries that top the subjective happiness rankings.
Lower and middle-income countries receive lower rankings from the current well-being indices in which they feature. India and China, where there is low public provision for retirement, occupy high rankings among indices that emphasise fiscal sustainability over the quality of life of older people.
Australia is ranked in the top third of countries in almost all indices. It ranks particularly highly in the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, largely due to the design of its retirement income system.
For what it’s worth, one could take an index of these indices to summarise. Such an index, call it the CEPAR meta-index of ageing, indeed shows Nordic countries taking the top three places, followed by Australia and the US, with the UK coming somewhere in the middle of 25 countries – apparently well ahead of places like France and Italy. Something to ponder when contemplating the good life in old age.
With the writing seemingly on the wall as far as his continued selection in the Australian test team was concerned, Matthew Hayden today retired from representative cricket effective immediately.
As I have been saying for some time (including on this Blog) it is well past time for Matthew Hayden to be dropped from the Australian side and/or for him to retire. His form just didn’t warrant his further inclusion in the team.
Without doubt Hayden was a brilliant player and a cricket star for Australia in the past, but those days have been gone for some time and it was sad to see a player’s decline live on cricket fields around the world and especially at home. Thankfully Matthew Hayden didn’t continue on with his stated intention of continuing to play for Australia – for both Australia and for himself.
Well done Matthew Hayden on a brilliant career and best wishes for the future.