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Australia’s Superannuation System
The member for Griffith is right: before the last election the coalition did commit that we would not make any unexpected detrimental changes to superannuation, and that commitment was so important, because the context was that the Labor Party had so significantly eroded confidence in our national superannuation system that Australians were crying out for some form of positive statement from the Liberal Party to ensure that we would protect their future savings. Labor for those six years basically treated the superannuation savings of Australians as a piggy bank to just be raided any time there was a hole in the budget that required filling. And don’t we know that there were lots of holes in the Labor Party budgets of those six years of government that did need filling—and invariably they always went to superannuation.
During Labor’s time in office, Labor announced increased taxes on superannuation of almost $9 billion, including cutting super benefits for low-income earners by more than $3.3 billion. So, it is extraordinarily important to place into context how important and how welcome the coalition’s commitment of not making any unexpected detrimental changes to superannuation was. I can assure you that the members of my electorate in Deakin were extraordinarily in favour of that commitment. And we are keeping our commitment to not make any unexpected detrimental changes. We said that we would increase the superannuation guarantee from nine to 12 per cent, and we are doing that. But in recognition of the difficult fiscal environment the government is faced with—no thanks to Labor—we have decided to cushion the budget from the full impact of the increases and boost the superannuation guarantee in a more gradual way. So, instead of increasing from nine to 12 per cent in seven years, from 2013-14 to 2019-20, the guarantee rate will increase from nine to 12 per cent in 13 years, all the way to 2025-26.
And let us be frank: this is not our preferred option, but it is the only option that is on the table. And if people have any concerns, then they should blame Labor, because if Labor had not continued to frustrate our clear mandate on repealing the mining tax then the changes the government has made in respect of the more gradual ramping up of superannuation may not have been necessary. So, I am not sure how anyone in the opposition and in particular the member for Griffith could credibly claim that we are making unexpected detrimental changes to superannuation. We are simply increasing it at a more gradual rate.
The member for Griffith derides our comments on this side of the House that delaying the increases in superannuation will result in more money being in workers’ pockets. Well, every time she derides that statement she also derides the Leader of the Opposition. I would remind her of the Leader of the Oppositions’ statement when he was the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation in government. He said: ‘Increases in compulsory super come out of people’s wages.’ So I would say to the member for Griffith, if you don’t believe us, look at the words of your own leader: ‘Increases in superannuation invariably come out of the pockets of workers.’ Does that mean we should not aspire to increase superannuation? Of course not. But there is a time and a prudent way in which to do it and, frankly, the Labor Party has no credibility on the issue of superannuation. Having hit superannuation accounts with $9 billion of additional taxes over six years they should, in my view, sheepishly avoid this topic because they have absolutely no credibility.
In closing, I want to say in respect of this motion that the best thing we can do for people’s retirement savings is ensure they have a job. Without a job you are not making contributions to your superannuation account. Without a job you cannot make voluntary contributions to your superannuation account, which all employees can do. That is why we are so focused on building a stronger economy with greater jobs, higher wages and, ultimately, greater superannuation.