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Tuesday, 29 May 2018
Page: 4715

Superannuation


Ms O'NEIL (Hotham) (14:17): My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware of ABC reports that Jessie, a barman, was left with just $98 in super after working for more than 12 years, because he was ripped off by dodgy businesses. Why is the Prime Minister rewarding dodgy businesses who have stolen the retirement savings of workers like Jessie by not only waiving all penalties for them but giving them a tax deduction as well?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:18): Mr Speaker, I couldn't hear the honourable member. She referred to a constituent called Jessie, who she said had been ripped off, but I couldn't hear who she said she'd been ripped off by.

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: I remind members not to interject—the member for Isaacs in particular. I would have thought those on my left would be interested in maximising the number of questions in question time, but if the member for Isaacs wishes to delay it—the member for Hotham can repeat the question from the beginning.

Ms O'NEIL: My question is to the Prime Minister. Is the Prime Minister aware of ABC reports that Jessie, a barman, was left with just $98 in super after working for more than 12 years, because he was ripped off by dodgy businesses. Why is the Prime Minister rewarding dodgy businesses who have stolen the retirement savings of workers like Jessie by not waiving all penalties for them but giving them a tax deduction as well.

Mr TURNBULL: I thank the honourable member for her question. Firstly, in respect of the last part of her question, I'd refer her to the answer given a moment ago by the minister for revenue. The arrangements that the minister described are designed to ensure that employees get all of their money and the interest back. It is a 12-month amnesty on fines in respect of fines payable to government, not to employees, but providing the incentive to encourage them to bring forward their payments and pay the money to employees. So it's designed to ensure that people like Jessie actually get what they deserve. So that's the goal of the change. That's the first point.

With respect to the honourable member's reference to 'dodgy businesses', it's difficult to comment on that detail, other than to say that we are doing everything to ensure that Australians' superannuation is protected. Honourable members will be familiar with the interim report from the Productivity Commission that's been released today and will be aware that the government has, in anticipation of many of those concerns, already introduced legislation, which we encourage the opposition to support, which, for example, as I described earlier, is banning exit fees, increasing the ability of the ATO to reunite lost accounts—one of the points the Productivity Commission referred to—and making insurance through superannuation opt-in for members who are under the age of 25 or who have inactive accounts.

In making this observation, I can add to an answer I gave earlier. The reality is, in 2013, as part of the so-called MySuper reforms, the Labor government repealed the members protection standards, and those standards protected accounts—well, the honourable member can shake her head, but I think this may very well apply to Jessie. Those standards protected accounts below a thousand dollars or accounts held in eligible rollover funds from erosion by requiring that fees not exceed investment earnings. From 1 July next year, under our plan, members with balances below $6,000 will not be charged administration and investment fees greater than three per cent of their balance. And that is the coalition giving members with low balances protection that the Labor Party had stripped away.