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Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Page: 799


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (12:59): I rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Reuniting More Superannuation) Bill 2020. Labor has a proud track record on superannuation and will continue to fight for a stronger and fairer superannuation system. Our superannuation system sits alongside the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme as a significant national achievement. But unfortunately too many Australians still retire without adequate retirement savings, which is why our super system needs to be strengthened and protected, not undermined.

This bill contains a single schedule, which amends the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act, the Retirement Savings Accounts Act and the Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Act to facilitate the closure of eligible rollover funds, otherwise known as ERFs, by 30 June 2021. This measure addresses recommendation 5 of the 2019 Productivity Commission inquiry into superannuation, which recommended that the Australian Taxation Office be responsible for holding lost superannuation accounts and that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority oversee the wind-up of eligible rollover funds. These changes build on the Protecting Your Super 2019 legislation, which saw low-balance and inactive accounts transferred by trustees to the Australian Taxation Office, but not eligible rollover funds. Since the implementation of Protecting Your Super legislation, fund trustees are required to transfer inactive or low-balance accounts to the Australian Taxation Office.

Eligible rollover funds were designed to look after unclaimed superannuation, but essentially they are now redundant. This legislation provides a timetable to wrap up the remaining ERFs by 30 June 2021, with funds transferred to the Australian Taxation Office. This will allow the Australian tax commissioner to reunite superannuation accounts they receive from eligible rollover funds with the members' active accounts.

We support this bill because Labor wants to see every Australian in a high-performance fund. We want to ensure that we have an end to multiple accounts, which is what this legislation is aimed at addressing. To date, it is worth pointing out, the Australian Taxation Office has successfully reunited more than 2.1 million or lost or forgotten superannuation accounts with their rightful owners. This is something we can all be very pleased about. This is a greater success than AUSfund have been able to achieve over a 10-year period. It is a success rate that we hope to see matched with the wrap-up of ERFs.

I will also formally move my second reading amendment to this bill. I think it is important that members of this place have the opportunity to debate a lot of the issues that currently surround superannuation. There has been a busy agenda of proposals coming from both the government and the backbench since the election of the Morrison Liberal government. Most of them, I have to say, weren't ventilated during the election campaign. Most of them, particularly those propositions emanating from the government backbench—with permission from the Prime Minister, we fully suspect—would have a very, very harmful effect not only on superannuation fund members but also on the strength of the system.

We have a superannuation system which, while not perfect, is the envy of many countries around the world: $3 trillion worth of national savings owned by fund members, savings which are not only providing funds for a dignified retirement for their fund owners, but also providing a pool of investment which enables us to invest in new infrastructure projects and job creation projects, and also enables us to invest in projects and companies in businesses overseas, earning foreign remittances for the fund members. We are now in a situation where, for the first time in our nation's history, we are not a net importer of capital. We have a savings pool which is helping us to provide ballast in difficult times and to ensure that we have the money available to invest in nation-building infrastructure and other projects. Why, when we are just realising some of the benefits of the system, many of the members opposite would want to pull it apart is beyond all right-thinking Australians, but that is exactly what they are trying to do. So we're calling on the parliament not only to support the substantive bill but to support the second reading amendment. We think it's important to send a very strong message, from this parliament to the people of Australia, that we believe that every Australian deserves a dignified retirement.

There's a point I want to make to those members opposite—sometimes referred to as 'the dirty dozen'—who are trying to unwind our system of compulsory superannuation and unwind the legislated increases from 9½ to 12 per cent. The point I want to make to those opposite, a point which they're going to have to explain to the Australian public, is this: why is it fair that they take home, on a monthly basis, a 15 per cent contribution from the people of Australia to their superannuation accounts but not fair that the people who clean their offices, the people who look after us in this place, should receive the same—indeed less, a 12 per cent contribution—to their superannuation accounts in future years? Those opposite have a big question to answer: why is 15 per cent fair for them but 12 per cent not fair for the people who clean their offices? And, of course, it's not just the contributions; it's also the tax concessions that go along with those contributions.

With this debate swirling, I think it's incredibly important that we provide some certainty to the people of Australia and get a very clear message out that the parliament supports our world-class superannuation system and that across the parliament—each and every member, each and every senator—we are dedicated to ensuring that we strengthen, not weaken, this superannuation system. I move:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

(1) notes that Labor created Australia's superannuation system so that every Australian can have dignity in retirement;

(2) criticises Government members who would see Australia's world class superannuation system become voluntary for working class Australians; and

(3) further notes that too many Australians retire without adequate retirement savings, which is why our superannuation system needs to be strengthened and protected, not undermined".

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Rob Mitchell ): Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Husic: Yes, the amendment is seconded, and I reserve my right to speak.