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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 226

Superannuation


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:42): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. On 3 June, when asked whether the government's superannuation policy as set out in the 3 May budget would change following the election, the Prime Minister said, 'It is absolutely ironclad.' Does the Prime Minister stand by this commitment?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:42): The fact is that we were re-elected on a set of policies by the Australian people. We were re-elected on those policies, and we will put those policies to this chamber, and we will be looking to you. But if the Australian Labor party will not cooperate, will not respect the will of the Australian people, then we will look to the crossbench. We come into this chamber with an ambition to do what is best for the Australian people on all the tasks but most particularly the task of budget repair because this is a new parliament. This is a new parliament with a government returned with a mandate to give effect to the commitments it made during the election.

Senator Cameron: It is the same old government. You have got no mandate.

Senator BRANDIS: If you—as your colleague, Senator Cameron, keeps interjecting—refuse to accept that the government was re-elected and therefore has a mandate, we do look—

The PRESIDENT: Order! A point of order, Senator Dastyari.

Senator Dastyari: My point of order goes to relevance. There was only one clear question—that was, whether or not it is absolutely ironclad and whether or not the Prime Minister stands by that commitment. A minute has already passed and the minister has made no attempt to answer the question.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Dastyari. I will remind the Attorney-General of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: Thank you, Mr President. I will, of course, abide your ruling and I will come directly to the question of superannuation. The government's reforms to the superannuation system will make the system more flexible and sustainable. It will help more Australians be self-sufficient in their retirement. It is a fair system, as the Minister for Finance, Senator Cormann, outlined in his answer to the previous question from Senator Leyonhjelm. We know, Senator Gallagher, that you have announced that you will oppose the government's plan to adjust the superannuation system to fit modern work patterns. That reduction of the government's flexibility measures will see up to one million Australians—mostly women, carers, contractors and older Australians—worse off. That is your vision, Senator Gallagher. (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, a supplementary question.









Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:45): Since the budget, we have had numerous caps on non-concessional lifetime contributions floated, including the Treasurer's $500,000 cap, a $750,000 cap and a $1 million cap floated by George Christensen on Twitter. And, this week, it was reported that the Prime Minister was considering dropping the cap altogether. What exactly is the government's policy and how is this consistent with the Prime Minister's ironclad guarantee?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:46): Senator Gallagher, you really must avoid relying upon unsourced gossip you read in newspapers as the basis of your attacks upon the government. The government announced some measures in relation to the superannuation system in the budget. Those measures were clear. It took those measures to the election. It was re-elected on those measures. That is the government's policy, Senator Gallagher.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, a final supplementary question.



Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital Territory) (14:46): Under this Prime Minister, we have had an economic plan for an increase to the GST, double taxation by the states, a percentage floor on GST distributions and, now, four different proposals for lifetime superannuation caps. Is this the type of economic leadership Mr Turnbull had in mind when he deposed Mr Abbott?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:47): There you go again, Senator Gallagher. Every single proposition you asserted in your question was wrong; every single one. So let us go through them, Senator Gallagher. First of all, you assert the government proposed to increase the GST. The government has never proposed to increase the GST. The Labor Premier of South Australia, Mr Weatherill, recommended an increase in the GST. So did Mr Mike Baird, by the way. The government has never proposed an increase in the GST. You assert that the government proposed double taxation. Wrong again, Senator Gallagher. That has never been proposed by this government. And now you say, based on unsourced newspaper gossip, that we are proposing four different caps when only one set of proposals has ever been announced—and that, Senator Gallagher, is the government's policy.