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Monday, 25 August 1997
Page: 5602


Senator MARGETTS(8.13 p.m.) —I would like to comment. The minister obviously has some comments to respond to in relation to what Senator Sherry said, but perhaps I will give him a job lot and give him some more to comment on.

Senator Kemp mentioned that it is designed for low income spouses. I really do think that that deserves a response. Low income? We are talking about a society where the vast majority of people can barely afford what is being taken out of their salary for compulsory superannuation levies and other things that are required to be taken out. In many cases, they thought superannuation was about them being able to choose what to do with the money that they have taken out or sometimes volunteered to have taken out of their spendable income. They are finding that that will not be the case under the coalition government; that you are saying that more and more you will tell them what to do with that money, which will be to provide for their own income if they happen to become unemployed at 55.

We are talking about people who have taken a cut in pay, in reality, to provide for their own retirement. The vast majority of people can barely afford a cut in their own spendable income. In fact, it looks like, over time, it will replace the right to a pension.

You are saying that you are benefiting low income spouses but the reality is that you are providing a benefit for people who can afford to make not only a healthy superannuation contribution for themselves but a substantial contribution for their spouses. That is not low income. You might be talking about a person in a family who is not earning another income perhaps supplementing a substantial first income. That might be worth while looking at. But we are not talking about low income families here; we are talking about people who would like to minimise their tax. I object to the fact that you are pushing this as a low income benefit. It is not. It is something which people on middle range to upper range incomes will be able to access, not people on lower incomes.