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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9399


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:48): Madam Speaker, I seek leave to move the following motion:

That the House condemns the Prime Minister for:

(1) violating the trust of the Australian people;

The SPEAKER: I am advised that leave is granted.

Mr SHORTEN: Well done. Thank you.

That the House condemns the Prime Minister—

I move:

That so much of standing orders—

The SPEAKER: No, you do not have to suspend.

Mr Shorten interjecting

The SPEAKER: The honourable member will take his seat. Just so we know where we are, leave was sought, leave was granted and there is no need for a suspension. The Leader of the Opposition—

Mr Snowdon: He was moving his motion.

The SPEAKER: The member for Lingiari may leave the chamber under 94(a).

The member for Lingiari then left the chamber.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition can now move his substantive motion.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you and I thank the Prime Minister for granting leave. I move:

That the House condemns the Prime Minister for:

(1) violating the trust of the Australian people;

(2) raiding the hard-earned retirement incomes of working Australians to pay for his broken promises;

(3) abandoning a promise he has made at least 14 times not to make any adverse changes to superannuation;

(4) freezing the increase to the Superannuation Guarantee which will cut the retirement incomes of all working Australians;

(5) abolishing the Low Income Superannuation Contribution which will make it harder for low income earners to save for retirement;

(6) mortgaging the future retirements of working people because of his Government's dishonesty; and

(7) repeatedly breaking his promise not to do deals with minor parties and independents.

We have seen today, and Australians waking up today have learnt, the devastating news that there has been a disgraceful, destructive and dishonest attack to freeze their superannuation. Australians have woken up to find out that there has been a dirty, devious backroom deal to deny millions a decent retirement income. This deal has been done and the arch culprit is the most out of touch Prime Minister since the top hat-wearing Stanley Bruce. This Prime Minister says in answer to the first question in question time, 'There have been no adverse changes'—remembered his weasel words, 'There will be no negative adverse changes to people's superannuation accounts.' He did not say it once, he did not say it twice, he lied on 14 occasions about this matter. A new land-speed record for a duplicitous government. And that dilemma is—

Mr Pyne: Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The government has given leave for a debate. It has not given leave for the use of unparliamentary terms and the Leader of the Opposition knows that. He should withdraw it and then he will be allowed to proceed.

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw the unparliamentary term.

Mr SHORTEN: I withdraw, Madam Speaker. We have seen on 14 occasions the nation's greatest fairytale teller, telling fairytales which will harm Australians. What is it about the meaning of the word 'adverse' that this Prime Minister does not understand? Why is it that he speaks weasel language, not the English language? And why doesn't he understand why we believe this is a despicable attack? Of course, there are members of the government who sneer at this debate. Why wouldn't they? They are on much better superannuation than the almost nine million Australians whom they are holding back. And they should not shake their heads. If you do not know how real people earn their income, you are not fit to be here.

We know it is a con job. The government said that they would defer the increase to 10 per cent for two years. That is all they said. But since then we have seen a rushed, botched job where they have now said, 'We will delay it for six years.'

The government either deliberately seek to harm the less well-off in this community or, at the very least, are clueless about how people other than themselves live. They have said, 'This is a good thing for the Australian worker.' We heard this Prime Minister say, 'There's no adverse harm,' with his trademark smirk and shrug of his shoulders. 'What does it matter?' What we know about this Prime Minister is that he would rather put the interests of fewer than 10 mining companies ahead of almost nine million Australians. Those are your priorities, Mr Prime Minister. You have never seen the big end of town that you would not help and you have never met anyone less well-off whom you would help through policies and superannuation. The Liberal Party has got form on superannuation. Some of the historians of the Liberal Party can shake their heads—

Mr Robb interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: The minister for trade! In 1992 they voted against mandating compulsory superannuation. When John Howard ran for power in 1996, he said, 'You can trust us to lift super to 15 per cent,' matching Keating's promise. Then, after 1996, these disgraceful recidivists, these people who have no clue about superannuation except their own accounts, reversed that and said, 'We're not increasing it.' So for many years superannuation was stuck at nine per cent. Then Labor, again, in the last term of office, moved superannuation in incremental amounts to 12 per cent. The coalition voted against it then. But when they got near the election these recidivists, these fairytale tellers of political lies then said—

The SPEAKER: The member will—it is all right. Okay.

Mr SHORTEN: Thank you, I am glad you agree, Madam Speaker. These recidivists, these fairytale tellers of political lies said, 'You can't really trust us on super, but we'll delay it for just two years.' We knew that they were making it up. But they did say that; they put it in black and white.

A government member interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: And don't call me 'genius'—you wouldn't be fit to even tie the bootlaces of the people who need this superannuation. Then we go further. Now they have got the chance to lift superannuation to 12 per cent, what do they do? They freeze it again. They do not know what they do. As a classic—

Mr Morrison interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: Oh, Morrison, be quiet. They have no idea what they do. Have we heard any information at all from the economic neo-Luddites of the antisuperannuation brigade? Have they said how much it will cost an individual's account? They have no idea what it means to a 25-year-old now, earning $55,000. They have no idea what their change means. I will tell you. It means $9,516 less in their account. What about a 35-year-old who is on $75,000? Because of these changes, they lose nearly $13,000 in savings.

Mr Pyne interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: Oh, Christopher Pyne, don't talk to me about wages. You have never seen a wage you wouldn't cut; you've never seen a student you wouldn't harm in terms—

The SPEAKER: The Leader of the Opposition will refrain from talking across the table using terms other than their name.

Mr SHORTEN: The truth hurts, Madam Speaker. They have no idea what is going on with the trajectory of this economy. The pool of national savings has been harmed by hundreds of billions of dollars as a result of this decision. They are going to delay—

Mr Fletcher interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: Oh, Fletcher, be quiet. They have delayed hundreds of billions of dollars in accumulation for superannuation. We asked this government a question today: what is the impact—

Mr Simpkins interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Cowan will remove himself under 94(a).

The member for Cowan then left the chamber.

Mr SHORTEN: We asked the government today: what is the impact on national savings? They have no idea. We asked the government today: what does it mean for increased Commonwealth expenditure on the age pension? We asked the Prime Minister, in a triumph of hope over experience that he would answer it, but he did not fail us. He did not answer the question. There is no modelling here. I challenge the Prime Minister right here, right now: show us your modelling which indicates the impact on the pension, on people's accounts and on the national savings profile of this nation. They have no idea what they do.

The government are happy to hold back increased superannuation for nearly nine million Australians. They are happy to do that. But what they are also happy to do is extend the tax break for people who earn over $100,000 in interest on their superannuation savings. They are happy to look after a very small number of people but do over nearly nine million people. I repeat that: when it comes to people who have millions of dollars in their superannuation and they earn over $100,000 in interest each year, the government says, 'No worries; you get that for free.' But they will make everyone else work to age 70.

As I said, we now see what is a remarkable act of faith by the Treasurer, not necessarily borne out in today's caucus meeting, I might add. I do note that the Prime Minister, according to Fairfax, had to slap down the Treasurer after a stoush over GST anger. Hang in there, Christian Porter, you will get a promotion eventually!

We now see the government are going to give Joe Hockey, the man who inspires such confidence in the night musings of the backbenchers, especially their marginal seat members, control of when we get superannuation increases. This Prime Minister says, 'You'll eventually get to 12 per cent in 2025.' Thank goodness!

Always with 'tricky Tony' watch the fine print, because I have no doubt that that will change. In fact, from what they have said, it can take as long as 2034.

Why is this government so against improving the pool of national savings? I love this mob opposite for their sheer effrontery. They have got more front than Myers, this mob opposite. If they were at a superannuation conference they would say, 'Oh, it's great the pool of national savings—$1.6 trillion. You'll love it, Joe. You'll love superannuation.' You would beat your chest, you would chomp around and you would blow hard about superannuation. But the problem is that when you have a chance to do something about lifting superannuation you chicken out every time. I have never seen an increase in super that these people opposite have not voted against. What they do is damage the retirement incomes of ordinary Australians.

This government has form in damaging superannuation. They have gone after the low-income superannuation contribution. The low-income superannuation contribution was enacted by former Treasurer Wayne Swan. He stands up for the low paid in our community. What he said in his legislation and what we say now is: why on earth should 3½ million people—and the government should listen to this; they might learn something—

Mr Hockey: From you?

Mr SHORTEN: Joe Hockey, I would just be quiet and not remind anyone you are here, mate. What do they do with the 3½ million people getting the low-income superannuation contribution? Currently, under Labor's proposal, which we enacted, if you earn less than $37,000, you pay no tax on your superannuation contribution. This is not a bad idea. Once upon a time they used to pay 15 per cent, but the difference is that, if you earn this money in the pocket, if you just take it as pay—as Christopher Pyne suddenly discovered about low-paid workers, other than the ones who serve him a cappuccino at the cafe—

The SPEAKER: The member will refer to people by their correct titles.

Mr SHORTEN: The member for Sturt. Okay, you got me. The member for Sturt says he worries about the wages of people, even though he has no form guide for ever voting for it. What we see is that people who earn less than $37,000 under Labor's proposal pay no tax on their superannuation contributions. This is actually sensible, because when we go back to what the Liberals and the Palmer United Party have done, people will be paying more tax on their superannuation than they would at their effective marginal tax rate. Only a Liberal! They are so out of touch with how poorer Australians earn their living that only they could dream up having a higher tax on compulsory savings than they would on the money that people take home. These are the sorts of people we are dealing with. But it does not just stop there. Not only have they broken a promise—and believe me, Mr Abbott, you have broken this promise and we will hold you to it; they have cut the tax refund which low-paid Australians get. What they are actually doing is that they want people to work longer and receive less in terms of their aged pension when they retire. This is a government who has never seen a lower paid Australian whom they did not want to slug. I love their false indignation on behalf of ordinary Australians. If they really cared about ordinary Australians they would not be delaying or freezing their superannuation increases. If they really cared about lower paid Australians, ordinary Australians battling to make ends meet, they would not be cutting the indexation rate of the age pension. If they really cared about lower paid or ordinary Australians, they would not be taking away the tax refund. Tony Abbott, though, has form on superannuation.

The SPEAKER: The member will refer to people by their correct title.

Mr SHORTEN: The author of Battlelines has form on superannuation. He once famously said—and I saw some of his new and neophyte members a bit surprised at the question; remember, we asked the Prime Minister 'Is compulsory superannuation the greatest con job?'—well may you nod, Tony, because we know what you said. He said, 'Compulsory superannuation was the greatest con job ever foisted on Australians.' So, to be fair to Mr Abbott—

A government member: The Prime Minister.

Mr SHORTEN: Yes, the Prime Minister, well spotted. To be fair to him, he did flag in 1995 that he thought compulsory superannuation was a con job. Of course, he has had more twists and turns—he is a weathervane—on superannuation. Late yesterday and now today, in order to look after a few mining companies and in order to work with your great friend Clive Palmer, life member of the LNP and buddy on Senate deals, they made a deal that nearly nine million Australians will miss out. That is why we condemn this Prime Minister. You are not fit to handle the policies of superannuation in this country. If you are seriously putting up that we would let Joe Hockey be in charge—

Mr Morrison: Treasurer.

Mr SHORTEN: Thanks, Scotty—the Minister for Immigration. If you think that we are going to allow that Treasurer to be in charge of the national savings account of Australia then, as they famously said in The Castle, 'Tell 'em you're dreaming.' We are on to you and the Australian people are on to you, and we will hold you to account for this latest broken promise and lie.

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Mr Bowen: Yes.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the member for McMahon, I see that the Leader of the Opposition had a great deal of difficulty remembering to address people by their correct titles. I would ask other speakers in the debate to kindly remember that and to have a better memory than he did. I call the honourable member for McMahon.

Mr Bowen: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.