House debates

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Matters of Public Importance


3:35 pm

Photo of Luke HowarthLuke Howarth (Petrie, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services) Share this | Hansard source

It's great to talk about superannuation. It was really interesting, listening to the member for Whitlam—this coming from a member opposite, along with every other member over there, who voted or wanted to vote at the last election but went out and told the people in their electorates why the retiree tax and getting rid of franking credits was a great idea. For every senior Australian right around the country who's got some income in shares, who saved for their retirement, who earned some kind of dividend on it, these guys wanted to take it away. These senior Australians are thankful that the Morrison government was re-elected in May last year, because we made sure that that wouldn't happen. We made sure that the investments they'd had in place wouldn't be taxed further like the Labor Party wanted to do. In relation to superannuation, I support it. The Morrison government supports superannuation. I think it's a good investment for all Australians' future. I think it's a great investment. I think home ownership is very important as well.

I put up a Facebook post just a couple of hours ago, and I said to people on my page, in my own electorate, 'I'm about to talk on superannuation. Have you got any questions you'd like to ask?' and so forth. To my surprise—a lot of those posts get good engagement, with a couple of hundred 'likes' or 100 'likes' or whatever. This post, I think, got one 'like' and two shares. It is unfortunate that many Australians see superannuation as compulsory, and they're also disengaged from their super. They're very disengaged from their super. But superannuation is a good thing.

I was very fortunate that my father taught me when I was 18 years of age to put a little bit additional money away on top of what is a compulsory superannuation system. Whilst in Australia we have a compulsory and universal system that was put in place under the Keating government, it's not perfect. Those opposite, in the Labor Party, I think, are sometimes blinded by that fact. What I was taught was to put a small amount of superannuation away. I think it was $50 a month and $600 a year when I was 18. I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of money,' when you're earning a small amount, back then. But it is really important.

I'd say to people in my electorate and right around the country that, where you can—particularly if you're living at home and you've got your first job and you might be earning over $45,000 a year—it's really worth putting a little amount of additional superannuation on top: salary sacrificing, particularly if you earn over $45,000 when you're being taxed at 32½c in the dollar, because everyone who earns under $250,000 is taxed at 15 per cent and that adds up over time. So, for people right around the country, consider doing that. If you're able to do it while you're living at home and paying a small amount of rent each week to your parents, or you might be DINKs—double income, no kids—and you're able to put a little bit of additional funds, salary sacrifice, into your super, I'd encourage you to do it, or you might be a family with children that's earning above average income, or you might have two people working. Try to put a little bit of money into your super.

The rates, at the moment, on housing loans too are very cheap. On this side of the House we also care about home ownership. Home ownership's very important, particularly a first home. We want to encourage, as all members in this parliament do, more people to buy their first home. It isn't lost on me that the member for Hotham and others on that side of the House don't support the government's First Home Super Saver Scheme. They went to the last election and said they'd scrap that. That's what they said. They didn't like the policy of the First Home Super Saver Scheme, where it was putting money into super, saving money on tax, and people then being able to withdraw it to get their own home. I'd say to those opposite: that's unacceptable. We do have, as I said before, a compulsory and universal system that the Keating government put in place. But don't be blinded by it. Look at all options.

The Morrison government supports all Australians and their choices when it comes to their retirement. As a result of the difficulty in 2020 because of COVID-19, the government decided to extend the application date for early release of super as well. Mind you, those opposite voted for that. They voted to give Aussies who need that lifeline the helping hand they deserve. We know that making that decision doesn't come easy and needs a lot of consideration. However, for those who have taken advantage of the availability of this scheme, it's a better option than other options available to them, As I said, the parliament voted on that, so it is ironic that the member for Whitlam has put forward this MPI today, given some of his comments in the past criticising that policy that he voted for. The Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology called out the comments made by the member for Whitlam recently in The West Australian. I remind those opposite that the Morrison government's policy on superannuation is important policy and that we do support super. We want Australians to have super. We also want Australians to get into their first home and be able to own their own home. The member opposite also said that we were somehow taking away super. Nothing could be further from the truth. We know that as super increases from nine per cent or 10 per cent at times, there are organisations out there that have said that it is a balancing act. Organisations like ACOSS, the Grattan Institute and the Reserve Bank have all said that. We are getting on with helping all Australians when it comes to superannuation.

The Morrison government remains focused on having a superannuation system which is competitive and transparent and which puts Australians in control of their own super. There are a couple of things that I'd just like to mention for the benefit of those people in the House. First of all, when it comes to young people under the age of 25, the Morrison government is going to help them by ensuring that their nest egg is not eroded. For young men and women—young adults who might have a part-time job and are at university—who previously had superannuation going into a fund, that money could have been, and often was, eroded through life insurance and death benefits. We've now ensured that you need to opt into that system, so that you're not automatically in that system. So, in a case where a person of 19 years of age with no home loan, no dependants and no children had a small amount of super going in each month, it was ludicrous that they were losing their super because they were being opted in by their super scheme to pay death benefits. We've now made it so that they opt out and then, after the age of 25, they go back in. That's an important point for young people that those opposite and the parliament might not know.

We've also given choice to young people. We know that some 800,000 Australian retail workers had no choice when it came to superannuation. Only three funds were available to them, and one of them was Rest. My understanding is that those opposite, including the member for Whitlam, voted against this policy change. They didn't want to give those 800,000 people choice. Those 800,000 Australians should be able to go into any industry super fund they want. They should be able to have a self-managed fund, if they like, or a retail fund.


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