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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 15545

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) (11:05 AM) —Senator Sherry is correct in referring to the fact that Senator Campbell was talking about Financial Planning Association figures; Senator Campbell was not talking about the figures from the department that I have provided. Obviously, all cameos can use variable assumptions and get different outcomes. I understand from looking at the Financial Planning Association's figures that the stated figures would be in nominal dollars and that they were probably not exclusive of superannuation guarantee contributions.

I have sought during this debate to provide considered projections—they could even be conservative—based on information that I have been given by my department. They are, I think, the best and most accurate projections available that I can assist the Senate with during this debate. There is obviously a variety of views about these figures: Senator Cherry had some slightly different figures and others have come up with figures—there have been all sorts of claims in the press and otherwise—so it is a matter of how you do it. The figures I am presenting are official figures that have been prepared for the purposes of this debate by Treasury, and I think the Australian public is entitled to rely on those and entitled to look in the Hansard and see what has been put on the record.

I do not know that there is much to be gained by taking issue with Senator Sherry. Obviously I do not agree that anyone has been misled in relation to child accounts. We have had a number of exchanges in relation to child accounts and I must say it is a puzzling thing that Senator Sherry can be so dogmatic about the number of child accounts there are when the data is simply not yet available because it has not been going long enough. In the circumstances where there are so many funds, where you would have to make some personal contact to find out at this stage, it is not really going to assist to have that kind of debate. Maybe we can have it at some later stage when, instead of guesses, we can have some accurate information.

The other matter I will mention is in relation to the so-called `backpackers tax'—that is, returning superannuation to Australian residents who are departing Australia permanently. The issue there is that the collections are not linked to this measure. It is misrepresenting the position to suggest that somehow or other there is some hypothecated connection between the collections on the return of superannuation to backpackers and the passage and payment of the co-contribution measure. They are separate matters. These matters are provided for in the budget and are updated in the budget.

I have asked my advisers to complete the cameos in relation to real values. The percentage increase remains the same for the benefits. I will provide those for the record. The dollar improvements are as follows: for person 1, for 30 years it is $42,697 and for 40 years it is $68,235; for person 2, for 30 years it is $40,236 and for 40 years it is $63,398; and for person 3, for 30 years it is $16,464 and for 40 years it is $24,330.