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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5729

Senator COLBECK (3:14 PM) —I find it somewhat amusing that Senator Sherry gets up to talk about policy on superannuation given the record of the Labor Party over the last six years in this respect. In fact, looking at the Labor Party web site, I notice they mention policy discussion papers but there is nothing on their web site that relates to Labor Party policy. I am happy to concede that the policy papers exist, but I find that it is a little bit difficult to believe the Labor Party's claim that they have specific policy with respect to superannuation when all the evidence suggests that they do not.

Senator Sherry —We set it up.

Senator COLBECK —Oh, good on you. In fact, they have had no policy since 1996. They went to the 1998 election without any policy and they went to the 2001 election without any policy. Go to the web site and have a look at that. It is amusing that, all of a sudden, the Labor Party seem to have found superannuation as an issue and that they have extensive policy credentials with respect to superannuation. They might have had some policy in a previous government but in the last six years there has been no policy activity whatsoever.

Senator Sherry —I am happy to go again if you have run out of things to say.

Senator COLBECK —I am sure you would be, Senator. The coalition has made superannuation a significant priority. Tax concessions provided to superannuation make it the single largest tax expenditure item amounting to approximately $9.5 billion in 2001-02. Measures contained in A Better Superannuation System will increase the attractiveness of superannuation by allowing couples to split their superannuation contributions, ensuring that single income families will have better access to two ETP tax-free thresholds and two reasonable benefit limits in the same way as dual income families. The superannuation termination payment surcharge rates will be reduced by a tenth of their current level in each of the next three years and this will lower the maximum surcharge rate to 10.5 per cent by 2004-05.

A co-contribution of up to $1,000 per annum will be introduced for personal superannuation contributions made by low-income earners in place of the current $100 rebate. The limit on full deductibility of superannuation contributions by self-employed persons will increase from $3,000 to $5,000 while retaining 75 per cent deductibility on any amounts above this threshold, subject to the age based deductibility limits. Also the tax on the excessive component of ETPs from superannuation funds will be reduced to lower the tax effective rate to no more than 48.5 per cent.

Other measures in the package will widen the accessibility of superannuation by extending the circumstances in which contributions to superannuation can be made. This will be achieved by allowing working individuals aged between 70 and 75 to make personal contributions to superannuation. This follows on from the government's earlier increase from 65 to 70 years for voluntary contributions and to 70 years for employer contributions. Recipients of the baby bonus will be allowed to contribute it to superannuation and superannuation contributions up to $3,000 per child will be allowed over a three-year period. Other elements of the package announced will require all employers to make at least quarterly superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees from 1 July 2003 and reaffirm the government's commitment to its policy of choice and portability of superannuation. This policy will give workers the freedom to decide who manages superannuation and the right to move superannuation benefits from one fund to another. The measures will allow temporary residents the option of accessing their superannuation benefits after they have permanently departed Australia, subject to tax withholding arrangements, and commit the government to examining whether market linked income streams also— (Time expired)