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Thursday, 7 February 2013
Page: 485


Mr HARTSUYKER (Cowper) (16:22): I welcome the opportunity to speak on this very important matter of public importance because superannuation is indeed an important aspect of Australia's economy. It is worth around $1.5 trillion, but it depends on some key factors. Two of those factors are not present with this government. It depends on trust; the Australian people certainly do not trust this government. It depends on confidence; the Australian people have no confidence in this government. If people are to participate in the superannuation system, they have to make a commitment from a relatively young age and put in reasonable contributions to have the sort of retirement benefit which will deliver the lifestyle they expect and deserve. The only way to encourage people to put money into superannuation is to assure them that the rules under which they deposit the money will retain some degree of consistency during the time they have the money invested. This government is eroding that trust and that confidence.

The Prime Minister has a deep trust deficit. The very same Prime Minister would not be affected by the sorts of changes she is proposing to implement, being one of the defined benefit people that the minister, Mr Shorten, was alluding to. The member for Griffith—the other Prime Minister in waiting—is also in a defined benefit scheme, so he would not be affected by any changes the government is proposing to implement. It is important that we encourage young people to put money into super. It is important that older Australians who have worked hard and saved hard and put money aside can feel confident that, when they retire, they will be able to live off the proceeds of their superannuation and that the Prime Minister will not change the rules at a minute to midnight. If she changes the rules, she will destroy their dreams and will adversely impact on their position.

What does that mean for people? It means that people have no confidence in this government. It is absolutely vital that we provide confidence in the superannuation system. When you look at everything this government does, you see that it is a confused model. When you look at the statements that this government makes, you see that it cannot be trusted. We had the never, never carbon tax, the mining tax that gains no money, the government's assault on private health insurance and the promise of a surplus—all promises made by this government, which cannot be trusted—and assurances in relation to superannuation which cannot be relied on. We see this government attacking superannuation again and again, despite their claim that they would not make one change—'not one jot, not one tittle.' There have been lots of jots and tittles.

Mr Billson: There was a big jot.

Mr HARTSUYKER: As the member for Dunkley has pointed out, they have been jotting and tittling everywhere. We have had the reduction in the concessional contribution cap. We have had the reduction in the co-contribution. We have seen the double contribution tax for high-income earners. We have seen the increased capital gains tax revenue from super and now they want to further increase tax on superannuation. What are the government themselves saying? In May 2010, Wayne Swan said:

We think certainty is absolutely paramount when it comes to the retirement income system, and we want people to have the confidence that they can save in the way in which they have in the past.

I do not often agree with the Treasurer, but I agree with him on this one. It is a shame he does not keep his word. What about the industry? A certain person, who is certainly not aligned with the coalition, Garry Weaven, one of the architects of the superannuation system and chairman of Industry Funds Management, said it is 'time for a pause', that it is time to stop making changes:

I think you should proceed with caution if you are the government in an election year. I would have said it is the first cardinal rule here.

John Brogden, CEO of the Financial Services Council, said:

The government does not understand that this undermines the confidence of everyone because they think that they're next.

That is right, they could be next:

Short-term budget decisions are undermining the foundation of the super system.

How true that is. Pauline Vamos of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia said:

Undermining the provision of long-term capital could have a significant impact on the economy, which should greatly concern any Australian.

These comments go on and on. Andrea Slattery, CEO of the Self-managed Superannuation Fund Professionals Association, said:

The continual erosion of super tax concessions to meet short-term fiscal goals is in danger of being permanently damaging to the effectiveness of super as Australia's key retirement savings vehicle.

At every turn the government is reducing confidence in the system. At every turn the government is going to penalise Australians with regard to their superannuation savings. Why is that? Simply because this government cannot manage its own budget. This government is not sufficiently financially competent to manage its budget. Australian families have to manage their own budgets. Australian families could not run deficits five years in a row, which this government is going to do with no prospect of a surplus in sight. Clearly, Australian families know better how to manage their budget than this government. There are more comments on superannuation. Peter Collins, trustee of the $1.1 billion Hostplus scheme, said:

To start to dismantle super concessions can only be an electoral negative. The electorate will not swallow super as middle-class welfare.

That is right. It is not middle-class welfare; it is a sensible provision for retirement that every Australian has a right to. Nick Sherry is a familiar name in these halls. Nick Sherry, hardly a supporter of the coalition, said in the Financial Review on 6 February 2013:

You've got the appropriate framework for tax treatment of super.

So take Nick's advice. Do not fiddle with the super system. Give Australians confidence to invest in superannuation. Do not slug self-funded retirees. Do not leave people who are approaching retirement in fear that their retirement plans will be dashed at a minute to midnight. It is absolutely outrageous that the Prime Minister would countenance taxing superannuation payments for people over the age of 60. It shows a blatant disregard for people approaching retirement and those who have retired. It shows a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted. It shows a government which cannot manage the budget. It is absolutely outrageous and it is about time the government took heed of what the coalition is saying. Do not mess with super. People need certainty and you need to manage your own finances before you slug superannuants.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The discussion is now concluded.