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Monday, 21 March 2011
Page: 2387

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (11:53 AM) —The hypocrisy with which this Abolition of Age Limit on Payment of the Superannuation Guarantee Charge Bill 2011 is brought here is absolutely staggering. If one wants to look at the records of the two parties in relation to what they have done for older Australians, the record is absolutely stark. The fact that it was brought to this place by the member for Mackellar absolutely highlights even further the hypocrisy that those on the other side have sunk to.

If the opposition in its history had ever been fair dinkum about older Australians, they would have supported compulsory superannuation in the first place and, of course, they did not. They screamed about the effects it was going to have on business. They went up and down about this being the end of the world—very similar to the sorts of debates we have at the moment about any proper reforms in the economy. They cry time and time again about a big tax. What the Labor government did in 1992 was make sure that older Australians would have money that they would be able to look to in their retirement funds. This was something those opposite opposed.

Right now, the government has a proposal that is going to affect 8.4 million Australians, by raising the superannuation level from nine to 12 per cent. Listening to the member for Mackellar, you would think, ‘Well, of course, the opposition must be supporting this amendment because they are so in favour in making sure that older Australians are looked after in their retirement.’ But this is not the case. This is not the case at all. They are opposing this legislation; they are opposing the move for Australians to have their superannuation rise to 12 per cent. I ask the member for Mckellar: what does she say to the 57,000 people in her electorate who are going to be denied this access to increased superannuation because of the opposition for opposition’s sake on the other side? The opposition are not in favour of a fair go for older Australians in retirement.

The member for Mackellar also raised the issue of the pension. Those opposite were in government for 12 years and what did they do for the pension? Absolutely nothing. It took this government to make real reforms, real changes to the pension. It was this government that put the historic increase in the pension through. Again, what did they do on the other side? They blustered. They said, ‘We care for the elderly,’ but they did nothing for 12 years. It was another one of the issues that, apparently in the 13th year, they were going to get to. There is a long list of issues. Gosh, that 13th year of government was going to be a beauty for you guys! This was another thing that you did not do in 12 years of government. It again took the Labor Party to look after older Australians.

The record on this side of parliament is a very strong record. We introduced compulsory superannuation in the first place. We made sure that Australians would be looked after in their retirement by having access to compulsory superannuation. Before we did that, who got the benefits of superannuation? It was generally those who were well-off and those who were men. We found very few women who were able to get superannuation until compulsory superannuation came in. What did the member for Mackellar do when that bill was introduced? She opposed it. She opposed compulsory superannuation. The rhetoric she comes out with about the coalition being the friends of the elderly is merely a front. This is another attempt to try and hoodwink the Australian public.

What the Australian public need to do is look at the record of the two parties, because the two parties have starkly different records when it comes to superannuation. On this side, we support an increase in superannuation. We support making sure that all Australians get adequate superannuation in their retirement. We support making sure that the pension is raised to levels that people can exist on. On the other side, what do we have? We have opposition to compulsory superannuation; we have 12 years of doing nothing for pensioners with no changes in the pension rate. On this side of the House, this government are the friends of superannuation. This side of the House, this government are the friends of older Australians. It is only a Labor government that has ever stepped up to the plate for older Australians, making sure that we look after them when they retire and making sure that those on pensions get proper pension increases. From the other side all we have is opposition, bluster and bravado but no real action in looking after older Australians, ever. This is a bill that fails to deal with the real issues of superannuation. (Time expired)