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Thursday, 27 August 2020
Page: 4218


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (10:41): Labor will be supporting this Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020. It builds upon a bill introduced in the last parliament, which Labor also supported, which allowed people who used to work for the Commonwealth to continue using their Public Sector Superannuation Scheme accumulation plan, or PSSap, accounts for their super contributions. Labor understands that the bill before us today is being driven by feedback from members following the passage of the bill in the last parliament.

This bill would allow former PSSap members to use their PSSap accounts for contributions in respect of any employment—that is, employment that does not attract a superannuation guarantee obligation—and if they wish to make other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions. The bill would allow current PSSap members to use their PSSap accounts for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers who they're working for at the same time. It would also allow Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme, or CSS and the PSS—the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme—members to establish a PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers who they're working for at the same time. It will also allow CSS and PSS members who cease being members and become pensioners, in the superannuation sense, or take their lump-sum benefits to establish a PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers or for other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions.

Finally, it would allow the CSS deferred benefit or PSS preserved benefit members to establish a PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers or for other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions. We've been advised that around 10,000 individuals would utilise the new arrangements over the next three years. This consists of around 6,000 former PSSap members, 1,800 people ceasing to be CSS or PSS contributors in the next three years and 1,500 CSS deferred benefit or PSS preserved benefit members.

These are sensible changes to the legislative framework, which allow for the continued use of PSSap accounts, as well as allowing members of the old defined benefit scheme who want to use the PSSap system. While this is a sensible amendment to public sector superannuation, we also say that it's only Labor who will defend the $3 trillion superannuation system and ensure that Australians have a fuller, richer and dignified retirement.

We can't discount the role that superannuation has played in the economic story of Australia, both since compulsory super began and during the pandemic. We also can't forget that every step of the way those on the other side have opposed and sought to undermine the superannuation system, and that continues today. You've opposed—

Senator Rennick interjecting

Senator GALLAGHER: That's right, Senator Rennick—you're giving that the big thumbs up. Those on the other side have opposed its formation and opposed increases to the rate of the superannuation guarantee, and now we have more and more of those opposite openly agitating for the currently legislated increase to the super guarantee to be abandoned in some or form or another. We even have the minister, Senator Hume, saying she's ambivalent on the issue of the increase for the superannuation guarantee. The Prime Minister, however, continues to confirm the government's election commitment that they took to the last election to stick to the currently legislated timetable. If he breaks his promise, this will be an attack on workers and their standard of living.

Their recent track record isn't something to crow about either. The Prime Minister's lack of a plan for jobs and recovery has forced people to apply for nearly $33 billion of their own superannuation savings, with nearly $32 billion of that already paid out through the government's early access to super scheme. It's pretty ironic for the party that has opposed the concept of compulsory superannuation all the way that one of the largest economic measures that's contributing to stimulating the economy at this time is people accessing funds out of super. If it weren't for compulsory superannuation, this money wouldn't even exist. There have been 3.1 million applications made, 1.2 million repeat—

Senator Rennick interjecting

Senator GALLAGHER: How's your super, mate?

Senator Rennick interjecting

Senator GALLAGHER: Yes—good! It's not good enough for anyone else though, is it? It's not good enough for working people, is it? It's everybody else who has to pay. You have the good super, but no-one else is entitled to it. What a disgrace.

We know that almost 600,000 people have no super at all as a result of the early access scheme, with the vast majority being young Australians who will now have to start from scratch to continue to put investments into their super while people like you, Senator Rennick, sit back and enjoy the super that's been provided for your retirement. Analysis has shown that young Australians will be more than $44 billion worse off at retirement because of the removal of their money from their superannuation accounts. After taking into account inflation and costs of living, a 25-year-old who withdraws $20,000 will be between $80,000 to $100,000 worse off in retirement. You reckon that's a good outcome?

Government senators interjecting

Senator GALLAGHER: Yes, good outcome—no worries. Your government wouldn't invest in the economy; you made everyone else take out their own private savings to stimulate the economy while you sat—

A government senator interjecting

Senator GALLAGHER: Did you withdraw any money out of your super? I don't think so.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, resume your seat. Interjections are always disorderly. Senator Gallagher, you need to direct your comments through the chair. Please resume.

Senator GALLAGHER: We've seen stories of fraud from the scheme, and we had flagged that with the government before the scheme started allowing withdrawals from people's superannuation accounts. We knew you would follow the money. There will always be attempts of criminal activity and fraud, and we have seen that play out. We know that ASIC has received referrals—

Senator Ayres interjecting

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Gallagher, resume your seat. Interjections are always disorderly. That goes for both sides of the chamber, just as I said before, Senator Ayres. Senator Gallagher, please resume.

Senator GALLAGHER: We know that ASIC received referrals from nine separate Commonwealth agencies relating to the scheme, including the Australian Cyber Security Centre. Referrals have included serious and organised crime targeting early release of superannuation payments, real estate agents encouraging tenants to access super to meet rental payments, credit providers advising borrowers to use super to meet loan repayments and members of the public being charged fees to access super.

So, having made those comments, Labor will support this bill. We do, however, have a second reading amendment that has been circulated in my name which I will also move. It replicates an amendment moved in the other place to this bill by my colleague the member for Whitlam. Unfortunately the government voted against their own election policy and what we understood to be government policy. They voted against this in the House. I hope that this amendment gets the support of the chamber both from those opposite and the Labor Party. I move:

At the end of the motion, add ", but the Senate calls on the Government to commit to ensuring that all Australians have a decent retirement, including by committing to:

(a) no cuts to the legislated superannuation guarantee for Australian workers, and

(b) adequate funding for the aged pension".

I'm sure that's an amendment that everyone in this place could and should support.