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Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Page: 2118

Superannuation


Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:51): My question is to Senator Brandis, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Can the minister confirm that from next year two million women will face a tax hike of up to $500 as a result of the Abbott-Turnbull government's decision to axe the low income super contribution?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:51): Senator, what I can tell you is that were there to be a Labor government the Australian people would face increased taxes in five new areas.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Do you have a point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: I have a point of order on direct relevance.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Just a moment, Senator Wong. Order on my left! I can't hear your leader, who is on her feet.

Senator Wong: I have a point of order on direct relevance. The minister did not even start trying to address this question. He went straight to Labor policy. The question was about the Turnbull government's decision to axe the low-income super contribution.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Wong. I will remind the minister of the question. Minister, you have one minute and 45 seconds in which to answer.

Senator BRANDIS: I am merely commenting on the paradox of being asked a question about tax by a Labor Party senator who goes into this year's election, in 2016, only promising tax increases. All you have done in your year of ideas is come up with five ideas, and every one of them was for a new tax. Senator McAllister, you asked me specifically—and I just thought I would provide you with a little bit of context—about the low-income super contributions.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Cameron! Order on my left! Senator Wong! Minister, you have the call.

Senator BRANDIS: Thank you, Mr President. I was hoping I might be heard in silence. The low-income super contribution was to be funded from the proceeds of the mining tax. Consistently with its election commitment, the government repealed the mining tax and is abolishing or rephasing the policies that were funded by it. Something that I am afraid that Labor politicians never seem able to grasp is that everything has to be funded from somewhere. This particular measure was funded by another tax, a tax that was a regressive tax that raised very little revenue, so we were elected specifically on a promise to abolish it.

Senator Kim Carr: Mr President, I have a point of order on direct relevance.

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, you have a colleague on his feet. Senator Carr, do you have a point of order?

Senator Kim Carr: The question was directly aimed at the issue of the low-income superannuation contribution. Why has the minister not even referred to it?

The PRESIDENT: Sorry, Senator Carr. The minister directly answered—

Government senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my right! The minister did answer the question. He did confirm what the questioner asked. Minister, you have the call.

Senator BRANDIS: I am sorry, Mr President, but I do not think I can be blamed if Senator Carr does not listen to the answer. I referred specifically to the low-income super contribution and I pointed out—if you care to listen, Senator Carr—that it was to be funded from the mining tax. The mining tax was repealed in conformity with an election promise. (Time expired)
















Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:55): Mr President, I have a supplementary question. Do further changes to the superannuation system remain on the table under the Turnbull government?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:55): Whatever policies or proposals the government has will be announced, in the ordinary course of events, as part of the budget on 10 May.


Senator McALLISTER (New South Wales) (14:56): Mr President, I have a further supplementary question. Will the minister rule out making any changes to superannuation that will leave average income earners worse off in retirement?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:56): Average income earners will always be better off under coalition governments. They will always be better off under coalition governments.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Pause the clock. Do you have a point of order, Senator Wong?

Senator Wong: The minister will have to correct the record.

The PRESIDENT: No, that is a debating point, Senator Wong.

Senator BRANDIS: I was asked whether average workers would be worse off under a coalition government. I can assure you, as has historically been the experience, average income earners are always better off after periods of coalition government. That was the case throughout the period of the last coalition government, the Howard government, in which wages increased by a much greater rate than they increased during the time of the previous or the subsequent Labor government, and it will be the experience of this period of coalition government as well.

The PRESIDENT: Do you have a point of order, Senator McAllister?

Senator McAllister: Mr President, I raise a point of order that goes to relevance. The question asked specifically about changes to superannuation that may leave average income earners worse off in retirement, and I would like the minister to answer that question.

The PRESIDENT: I think the minister was very close to being directly relevant, but I will invite the minister to conclude his answer. He has 19 seconds.

Senator BRANDIS: Let me say again that average workers will always be better off as a result of the policies of coalition governments. That was the case over the period of the Howard government and it will be the case under this period of coalition government.