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Monday, 31 May 2010
Page: 4720

Mr PERRETT (8:09 PM) —It was amazing to hear that the shadow minister against superannuation could not even go for five minutes. I rise to speak in support of the motion put forward by the member for Wakefield and thank him for his strong commitment to the future prosperity of his electorate and of all Australians. It is people like the member for Wakefield who recognise that more needs to be done to ensure all Australians can enjoy a comfortable and economically secure retirement.

The Labor Party has a proud record when it comes to mainstream access to superannuation. Put in place by the Hawke and Keating governments, the superannuation guarantee ensures that millions of Australians will retire with a sustainable retirement income. But more needs to be done to ensure that in the future more Australians benefit from these tough, historic reforms. As the Rudd government faces up to the reality of an ageing and growing population, now more than ever we need to ensure that as many workers as possible can retire without the need for pension support from the government. That is why the Rudd Labor government is from 1 July 2013 gradually increasing the superannuation guarantee contribution from nine per cent to 12 per cent, reaching 12 per cent on 1 July 2019—not that far away. Also from 1 July 2012 a superannuation contribution of up to $500 will be provided for workers with incomes up to $37,000, effectively refunding the contributions tax they pay on their superannuation guarantee contributions.

This kind of investment demonstrates that the Rudd Labor government’s strong commitment to the long-term security and prosperity of working families is to be acknowledged rather than just picked at by those opposite without actually putting up an alternative when it comes to superannuation. You will not see the benefits at the ballot box in six months time or whenever the election is held, but when working Australians reach retirement age 20 and 30 years from now they will be far better off because of the tough decisions made now. In fact, a 30-year-old employee on average full-time weekly earnings will retire with $108,000 more in their retirement savings thanks to the Rudd government’s long-term improvements to superannuation. A 30-year-old woman—those who tend to have the interrupted employment—will be $78,000 better off in their retirement.

But the coalition wants to rob ordinary Australians of fair superannuation for the future. When I am talking about super I am not talking about Clive Palmer’s retirement income, but the retirement incomes of ordinary Australians. That is who the government makes decisions for. The coalition stands against this government’s reforms to increase the superannuation guarantee and incentives for lower income earners and those nearing retirement age. The opposition leader and the coalition do not fundamentally believe in compulsory superannuation. It was a Labor initiative back in the early nineties. You might well remember the sacrifices that workers made in forgoing wage increases to kick-start the process. Instead, the opposition would rather see Australians, even those on lower incomes, somehow save and invest for their own retirement.

These changes are also good for our economy. In an age when we are saving less and less and putting more money on credit cards, superannuation, thankfully, is one way that we can ensure we do save the future. We have a record that is almost second to none throughout the world—certainly throughout the OECD—in saving with superannuation. By 2035 of the Rudd government’s boost to superannuation will deliver additional private savings of $35 billion per year and additional national savings of $19.5 billion. It will reduce age pension outlays by $3.5 billion a year. An extra $500 billion will be added to the pool of superannuation savings.

The Rudd government is driving these reforms to boost retirement savings and deliver a fairer distribution of superannuation tax concessions. We want to ensure that more Australians can enjoy a comfortable retirement and help us prepare for an ageing population and the many challenges that that will present. We do not just make decisions for the short term, for the polls and for the electoral cycle; instead we need to make tough decisions for what happens over the horizon. These reforms ensure a strong and growing economy today to deliver the superannuation savings we need for the future and also, incidentally, help to build Australia’s record as a great manager of funds and attract funds from around the world. That was something that was laughed at during the election, but already we are seeing some great advances. I support this motion and once again thank the member for Wakefield for bringing this matter to the attention of the House. I hope that the superannuation guarantee contribution will be supported by the next speaker from those opposite.