Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin.
Minister for Housing & Assistant Treasurer.
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Matters of Public Importance: Superannuation

This is all a bit half-hearted from the Labor Party. We know the Labor Party have one guiding principle with superannuation and that is just treat it like a pinata—whack it a bit more, and you get a bit more money out of it. Over six years of the Labor Party in government, we saw them make 13 changes to superannuation—not to transparency, not to make it easier for people; 13 changes to increase taxation on superannuation by $9 billion. That is the recent legacy of the Labor Party—13 changes to super, $9 billion in tax.

Then last year, the Labor Party hadn’t learnt and the shadow Treasurer made a solemn commitment to not increase taxation on superannuation, they made an announcement that they would increase super by $14½ billion over 10 years—again, just treating it like a cookie jar that you raid when you need to get a little more money. We do not treat superannuation in that way.

The Labor Party do the most egregious thing with super: they tax retrospectively

They forget that people made contributions under certain rules. Regardless of the fact that people contributed their money under certain rules, they will tax contributions once they are already in the fund. We will not operate in that way.

Then we have their policy on negative gearing, which is the most ill thought out policy that this parliament has seen in 30 years. The most ill thought out policy for 30 years will be the death knell for half of them over there, so that is fantastic. But they really should have read the policy, because every single superannuation fund that has invested in Australian property will be hit hard by that policy. Every single self-managed super fund that has invested in Australian residential property will be hit by that change. So for them to have the gall to get up today and criticise our policies on superannuation is quite extraordinary. The Labor Party have a track record of continually taxing superannuation—treating it like a pinata, whacking it a bit harder and hoping a few more lollies will drop out of the bottom. We do not support that.

We also think that people have the ability to make decisions in their own best interests. We also want to see the $2 trillion superannuation industry grow to $9 trillion by 2040 and to have the best possible corporate governance arrangements available—corporate governance arrangements that have been proven to work in the private sector. So it is extraordinary that the Labor Party, under pressure from their union masters, who control their preselections, would vote against a change to see more independence on boards. This is $9 trillion. It is not the HSU that you can treat as your own little fiefdom to raid for money like the Labor Party and the unions have done over many years. This is $9 trillion by 2040.

We must have the best corporate governance arrangements available, and that means that industry super funds, of which there are 43 out of about 250 funds, have to get with the program of the rest of the industry and have a mandatory part of their board represented by independent directors. What party could argue against that? The only thing that I can put that down to is that their union bosses put undue pressure on these members to ensure that they vote in a certain way.

The other thing we are doing is making it easier for people to choose their own fund. What could possibly be wrong with a principle that everybody should have the freedom to choose their own fund? Presently, in Australia, up to 800,000 people will have a fund mandatorily chosen for them under an enterprise agreement. What could be wrong with giving those people the ability to change that fund and to choose the fund that they would like their hard-earned money to go into? Let’s remember—and the Labor Party needs reminding—that it is not the government’s money. It is money that we mandatorily take from people’s pockets and invest on their behalf. They should have the right, at the very least, to choose where that money goes.

The Labor Party is standing in the way of better corporate governance; they are standing in the way of giving people more choice as to where their money is going, and they are mercilessly whacking the superannuation of Australians through ever-increasing taxes. It is not a cookie jar for you—the Labor Party—to raid. It is Australian workers’ money, and we, on this side of the House, will always stand up for those individuals.

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