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Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Page: 192

Superannuation


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:00): My question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Senator Abetz. I refer the minister to the government's decision to grant a tax break to some 16,000 Australians with superannuation balances of around $2 million at the same imposing a tax grab on 3.6 million Australians earning up to $37,000 a year. Can the minister explain to Australians why the government believes this is fair?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:00): I thank the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate for her question.

Senator Cameron: You're looking after your mates!

Senator ABETZ: Nothing changes with Senator Doug Cameron, does it? Nothing changes.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Abetz, ignore interjections. You are aware they are disorderly.

Senator ABETZ: Mr President, we believe in having a fairer tax system for all Australians—

Senator Wong interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Abetz is entitled to be heard in silence.

Senator ABETZ: What we as a government have acknowledged is that a few tough decisions need to be made to get the economy back on track. What I would invite those opposite to recognise is simply this: having trashed the house, don't stand in the doorway and refuse entry to the repair men and women who are charged with repairing the house.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! I remind senators even at this early stage that if you wish to debate the issue the time to debate it is after question time. The minister is entitled to be heard in silence. When there is silence on both sides we will proceed. Senator Abetz, continue.

Senator ABETZ: Those on the other side do regrettably seek to engage in the issues of class warfare. They do seek to engage in the business of cutting down the tall poppies in our community; we don't.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I rise on a point of order.

Senator Cameron interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Moore, you are on your feet for a point of order but someone on your own side is interrupting you and it is very difficult for me to call you.

Senator Moore: Mr President, I draw the minister's attention to the standing order on direct relevance in response to questions—one that he used very often himself in this chamber; so I draw his attention to that.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. The minister is answering the question. The minister has 49 seconds remaining.

Senator ABETZ: Can I help Senator Moore and those listening as to why this matter is relevant. It is because these matters were part and parcel of the policy that we took to the people in relation to the removal of the mining tax. The Labor Party had matters that they predicated in relation to the mining tax money that was never going to come in. Having trashed the economy, I invite those opposite to allow us to get on with the task of fixing the economy. Just for the leader's attention, I indicate that we do not accept the figures that she mentioned.















Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:04): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the minister to the Assistant Treasurer's justification of the government's decision on 7 November—and I quote:

We've always been on the side of those people who are aspirational …

Is it the government's view that the 3.6 million Australians earning up to $37,000 a year have no aspiration?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:04): We believe that the vast majority of Australians are aspirational, and that is why we want to get government out of the way to ensure that they can achieve their aspirations. Indeed, that is what the coalition's policy is all about: getting the very best out of the Australian people to achieve the very best for the Australian nation. When my good friend and colleague the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sinodinos, made the comments, which I trust were faithfully quoted by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, I would say: 'Ditto. I agree with Senator Sinodinos.' He is a very good Assistant Treasurer and will be assisting in implementing the recovery plan for our nation.


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (14:05): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer the minister to the Prime Minister's election promise that he would not leave anyone behind. Did this promise by the Prime Minister simply not apply to the 3.6 million hardworking Australians the government is now turning on?


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Government in the Senate, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Minister for Employment) (14:05): If there is one cohort in the Australian community that was left behind by those sitting opposite now, it is the 6.25 per cent that they predicted would be unemployed as a result of their economic policies. They are the people that have been left behind. When Labor came into government they had an unemployment rate, courtesy of the coalition, of 3.9 per cent. Today it stands at 5.7 per cent. They are the people that have been left behind, and they were left behind by the previous government. We have made no apology of saying that we feel for those people. We are seeking to put the economic parameters in place to ensure that they can get gainful employment.

Senator Cameron interjecting

Senator ABETZ: Senator Cameron, who presided over huge numbers of job losses in the manufacturing sector, can jeer, but these people want jobs and we'll try and get them. (Time expired)