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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2866


Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (10:57): I second the motion on deeming rates for Australian pensioners. It gave me great pleasure to see this private member's motion on the papers this morning and I thought it would be appropriate to come in and make a contribution. The reason I want to speak on this bill is that I grew up in a household in Queensland—a very humble household—and our sole source of revenue in the house was a widow's pension. My father passed away when I was eight years old. As a result, I can speak with some form of authority about what it is like to grow up in a household where your only income is a pension.

I will break down my contribution into two parts. One will be on pensioners. The member who moved the motion spoke predominantly about self-retired fundees, so the second part of my speech will shift to self-retired fundees and what the government's position is on it. This will help clarify the member moving the motion's understanding of the issue and the government's position.

Growing up in a household on a widow's pension I—along with many other children in the street—did not know we were poor. We thought it was completely natural that the shoes you wore were handed down from a sibling. We thought it was completely natural that the school uniform you got, that everyone in the school got, was from a second-hand shop or St Vincent de Paul. That is how we went about business in our family.

Never, at any stage, were we hungry and it never, at any stage, did we think we were poor. We thought every kid played cricket in the main street by knocking off a fence paling from Mr Dixon's place, down the road, and that became the bat. The cricket ball of choice was either an avocado, if in season, or a mango we, again, had knocked off from a neighbour's place—one who would have been contributing to the game of cricket. So, they were very humble beginnings. It gives me great pleasure to be here in the House to share those humble beginnings with the House, because I know there are others from both sides of the House who have that genesis.

To speak more aptly to the private member's motion, when we move into the space of self-funded retirees, what the mover of the motion has not taken into consideration with the building of the revenue stream for self-funded retirees is the interest generated from their investments, plus the ability for them to draw down from their capital investment. The government does take that into consideration. We encourage Australians, particularly in the self-funded retirees space, that we do need to advertise and promote the mindset that that bucket of money needs to be drawn down on in the future—not all the time. My family is in exactly the same boat. When my mum's second husband passed away she sold the family home and that money is now invested. Part of that makes up part of her revenue and it is topped up by a part pension.

So the government does have compassion, does have an ability to make sure that those who are most vulnerable in our community are looked after. But as a nation we need to shift away from what has been described by other commentators as a welfare mentality, whereby the bucket of invested capital is seen to be an investment that is kept in perpetuity and then gifted to a sibling or to someone else. That is not the intention of superannuation—it is not the intention of large-scale capital investments that you have the capacity to draw down. I know from experience that there are those who have a fear of drawing down—some might be reasonable amounts of money and some might be quite humble amounts. They fear drawing down because they have assessed that next year the return on their investment will be less because they have drawn down some capital. That is where the government safety net comes in, because if you are on a part pension that will then go to a full pension as your assets are recalibrated and reassessed. The government will play a role in looking after that.

If the Australian Labor Party comes into this place and talks about the protection of and rights of pensioners, be careful when introducing carbon taxes. Be careful when introducing legislation that has direct costs on households across Australia. There are two ways that we can help pensioners. One is by putting more money in their pockets by reducing taxes and the second is to reduce the amount of expenditure they have in their household budgets.