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Monday, 19 September 2011
Page: 10488

Superannuation


Ms LIVERMORE (Capricornia) (14:45): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. How will the minerals resource rent tax assist Australians in their retirement? How can the pre-retirement savings of Australians be improved to manage the demographic challenges of an ageing population?


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongAssistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation) (14:45): I would like to thank the member for Capricornia for her question. She understands that 49,500 of her voters stand to benefit by increasing superannuation from nine to 12 per cent. This is a very important issue. Australians are living longer than ever before—no jokes about the opposition frontbench today!—and it is important that we make sure that people do not retire poor.

Mr Randall interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: It is important that we finish the job started—

The SPEAKER: The member for Canning is warned!

Mr SHORTEN: by Prime Minister Keating and Bill Kelty to lift superannuation beyond nine per cent. Twenty years later, we should finish the job that has been started.

We want to improve the retirement savings of Australians by decreasing the fees and charges that are exacted upon the income in their superannuation accounts. We also want to make sure that there is an adequate replacement for the tax which the Commonwealth will no longer be receiving by moving so much income from income tax into the concessional tax treatment of superannuation.

That is why the MRRT is such an important tax for this country. We believe on this side of the House that some of the profits of Australia's richest companies who are doing very well, who are setting the Guinness World Recordsfor their profits, should be shared in a multi-speed economy. What could be better for Australians than increasing the retirement savings of 8½ million working people? What could be better than making sure that people have a dignified and financially adequate retirement?

Indeed, the challenge was issued to Mr Abbott and the opposition as late as today by the Daily Telegraph, which said that older people are working longer because they do not have enough. We need to do better in this country, and this parliament is capable of doing better. I understand very well that some of those opposite are not worried about whether or not enough other people have enough to retire on because they are all right; they have 15 per cent. Why would the Leader of the Opposition be worried about the retirement savings of 55,000 of his voters when he has a generous pension scheme?

It is only thanks to Labor in the last 20 years that the average account balance for men in Australia is at $71,000. It still lags at $41,500 for women in Australia—this is not enough. The current retirement savings system is not enough when men hold 63 per cent of all account balances in Australia and women only hold 37 per cent.

But why should we be surprised that this mob on the other side do not want the average punter to lift their balance, because they have put the claws—

Mr Pyne: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. How on earth could the slagging of the opposition be relevant to the question he was asked?

Mr Shorten: I'd always rather be a terrier than a poodle!

The SPEAKER: Order! The Assistant Treasurer has not got the call yet.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The Assistant Treasurer will wait until the House comes to order. The Assistant Treasurer will respond according to the standing orders.

Mr SHORTEN: We want to improve the retirement savings of 8½ million Australians. Yet those opposite say no to the Parliamentary Budget Office, they say no to the minerals resource rent tax, they say no to increasing superannuation—

The SPEAKER: Order! The Assistant Treasurer will bring his response to a conclusion.

Mr SHORTEN: If they do not like what they are hearing perhaps I might conclude by referring to that well-known film Robin Hood. In Robin Hood, once upon a time, the hero was Robin Hood. But this crew, like the Sheriff of Nottingham, take from the poor and give to the rich. (Time expired)