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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2348


Senator McGAURAN —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the statement.

I have only one point to make and that is in regard to the statement of the Hon. Ralph Willis, the Treasurer of this country, regarding superannuation. It is a welcome statement because there has been so much change over the last 10 years of this government's life in the area of superannuation and a great deal of confusion has reigned in the marketplace regarding government policy and superannuation policy. It is a complex area; there is no doubt about that. It is an area in which I do not profess to have a great deal of skill, and many people in this chamber would have to come to the same conclusion. It is a specialist area.

  Showing the modesty that my colleague Senator O'Chee did in his speech just previously, I do not pretend that I am able to grapple with the mammoth paperwork involved in superannuation. But there is someone in this Senate who needs the recognition of this chamber, and that, of course, is Senator Watson. He is to be congratulated for the policy work that he has put into this particular area of superannuation, in which he is a well known specialist, in his advice in helping the government and the people of Australia. We are forever in his debt in this area because it is a most important area for retirees in this country, in particular.

  It should also be noted that this statement does not go far enough in relation to a national savings policy. For that reason, it is most disappointing. It is not just me who is disappointed. It is more significant that Dr Vince FitzGerald, the government appointee with regard to establishing recommendations toward a national savings policy, is more disappointed than anyone. One would have thought the government, in establishing a superannuation policy, would integrate it with the national savings policy.

  I would like to quote from the AAP the full text of Dr Vince FitzGerald's comments regarding his disappointment about the Treasurer's statement yesterday. It states:

  "The government has been very reluctant to do anything to require the preservation of concessionally-taxed super benefits until normal retirement age" . . . Dr Fitzgerald said the biggest losers from the government's failure to deal with the issue of double dipping by early retirees into super and the pension would be young Australians.

  "The eldest among them would barely be of voting age and they are the people who will be paying for baby boomer-aged pensions in 30, 40 years or more time and the youngest of them have not been born yet," he said.

  "We are giving very little regard to the interests of future young Australians who will have the burden of something like $10 billion or $20 billion shared around on their shoulders."

That is quite a dramatic statement by Dr Vince FitzGerald with regard to the future of the government's superannuation policy. They are rather chilling predictions by a man who should, in his position, know what the future will hold in this area.

  I will say that the Treasurer's statement was appreciated and welcomed for what it said because the government has tackled the one area in superannuation that has brought alarm to the working man and woman, and that is how fees eat into the early parts of the superannuation scheme, particularly the guaranteed superannuation requirements. In that regard, the government has been seemingly successful in introducing a threshold below which fees cannot be charged—I believe it is up to $1,000—and the tax department may, by choice, handle up to $1,200 worth of superannuation. (Time expired)