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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4905


Mr RIPOLL (OxleyParliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (16:06): It is a pleasure to speak on this bill, because I think any opportunity to reform and make changes to taxation and superannuation in order to provide better outcomes for people is obviously something that we should always be attempting to do—and that is exactly what the Tax and Superannuation Laws Amendment Bill 2012 (Measures No. 1) does. This bill particularly tidies up a range of areas where there have been some issues and concerns raised in what is always a complex area in tax and invariably a complex area in superannuation, and it does this through a number of schedules.

This bill seeks to maintain the existing GST treatment third-party procured GST-free health supplies. It is really to make sure that it is clear in law how that GST-free supply is provided to other healthcare providers or other services to make sure that, in the end, the recipient of those health supplies actually does receive them as GST-free. This will avoid increased compliance costs that otherwise would arise for taxpayers in multiparty arrangements across those types of goods. Still in schedule 1, the amendments also restore the intended operation of GST law following the department of transport decision ensuring that multiparty arrangements involving relevant health related health supplies of goods and services are also GST free. It clarifies that and makes sure that it is restored in its proper sense.

Schedule 2 clarifies the GST treatment of government appropriations following the 2009 full Federal Court decision in TT-Line and makes sure that there are no unintended consequences or that entities not face an increase in compliance in this area and do not have to change their budgetary processes and practices.

Schedule 3 allows a pause in the indexation of the superannuation concessional contributions cap for one year, where otherwise it would have been the case that there would have been an increase through indexation above the $25,000 cap to $30,000 in 2013-14. This clarifies that that suspension will mean that that does not actually take place until 2014-15. This will generate some budgetary savings while at the same time maintaining the cap as is intended for individuals and maintain that incentive for people if they wish to make extra contributions.

Schedule 4 provides eligible individuals the option to have excess concessional contributions taken out of their superannuation fund and assessed at their marginal tax rate rather than incurring a potentially higher effective tax rate for any excess contributions tax. This is a beneficial change and something that is supported. As I understand it from the opposition, while they might have some what you might expect are regular concerns about regular things, the bill and the amendments are supported across the chamber. Schedule 5, goes further in terms of a number of measures, particularly in relation to the secrecy provisions in the Taxation Administration Act. This is to make it easier for beneficiaries of superannuation funds to consolidate those funds and not have their lost superannuation interest and benefits just disappear because of a range of administrative processes. It is always good to see that. There are hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that are either unclaimed, lost or otherwise not in their rightful places because of a range of reasons. Anything that we can do in this place to remove any of those barriers is a good thing.

Schedule 6 also delivers on an essential element of the government's Securing Super package that was announced during the 2010 election campaign. What it does is require employers to report to employees, on payslips, not only how much super they will be paying but when they plan to pay it. I think it is an important part of the ongoing struggle of making sure that funds for superannuation are used for exactly that and allocated accordingly—paid to employees who have worked for those funds. I think this is a very positive step and will work to the benefit of many thousands of workers.

In fact, in 2010-11 the ATO investigated nearly 18,000 employee complaints which raised Superannuation Guarantee entitlements for a great variety of reasons. That followed through to $517 million being identified, with $269 million actually being collected in Superannuation Guarantee charges and a further $139 million in penalties. You can see that this is quite significant and something that we ought to continue to pursue.

This bill makes that much easier. It also give employees more information about their super. Superannuation has become much more centre of mind for a lot of people at a younger age. But it still is not quite where it should be in terms of people's consciousness about their own retirement planning, retirement savings and financial independence in retirement. Anything government can do, be it through financial literacy or through amendments to regulations and law, we ought to do. We ought to do it at every level, be it through the ATO proactively pursuing employers who do not pay or other methods.

Schedule 7 protects the integrity of the tax refund system by giving the commissioner the ability to delay refunding amounts claimed where it would be reasonable to verify information provided by the taxpayer.

I think all of those things are a reasonable expectation. This is more good work that I am proud to say this Labor government continues to do in the areas of financial services, taxation and, in particular, superannuation. I believe Labor members really do understand how important superannuation is to ordinary people, to ordinary workers, to young people. The younger you are the more important it is, because you have more time to accumulate a more secure future.

But we also understand how important it is for older Australians, those who are nearing retirement, to make sure that there is nothing government does to impede what would be their best opportunity for self-sufficiency in retirement. There will always be debates around amounts and caps. I agree with people who they say there are too many changes. But sometimes those changes are necessary and for very good reasons. I am very happy to be supporting this bill. I commend it to the House and expect the opposition to follow suit.