Wednesday, 2 June 2021
Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Future, Your Super) Bill 2021; Second Reading
I can't entertain you the way that you've just been entertained by the member for Kennedy. His contribution is always worthwhile. He did finish with those immortal words, 'Jack McEwen'. I think he began there and he finished there, and I've enjoyed his contributions to this parliament for as long as I've been here and he's been here. But I do have my own story to tell because, for those of you that are new to this place, I was here when the superannuation scheme in Australia was introduced between 1990 and 1993 by the Keating government, and there's always more to the story.
At that time, we had a leader named John Hewson and a package called Fightback. I had probably 23 people on the staff of the business I was in then. When super was introduced, as far as they were concerned it was the greatest thing that had ever happened. You've got to remember that in those days—before I come to the story—parliamentarians and public servants had superannuation and some of the merchant class in Australia had superannuation directed by their accountants, but overall it was probably only one per cent of Australians that had superannuation. And here was I, as an employer, having to commit to my staff's future. I tell you: my staff loved it. They thought it was the bee's knees, especially when I was paying. They thought it was great. Because all my staff were under a federal award, there was no reduction—they said, 'There'll be a reduction in the pay you give to your employees,' but there was no reduction in pay going to employees. There was just an absolute direct benefit to those employees. When I finished in that business, in 2003, the real benefits of what I'd done over those years were received by the employees that were still there, all those years later.
Superannuation was hailed as an amazing reform for the country. There were those on my side that did not support that type of change to legislation and didn't support small business having to pay for it. We had all the arguments. Yes, there were many on my side that opposed it, but I was living it, which is quite different to standing in this place. I was living it with my staff, and I knew how they felt about this new superannuation scheme.
So Fightback came along, and John Hewson, who I have great regard for now—and he had regard for my wisdom, even at that young age—asked me to stay back a couple of weeks before they released it and said, 'Would you have a look at Fightback, go through it piece by piece and tell me what you think?' I got to the line that said, 'We're abolishing compulsory superannuation.' John came over to us, and I said: 'You can't do this. This is politically not on. My staff love this. They may even be Liberal-National voters; I don't know, but they're not going to enjoy this.' He said, 'The trouble is, Broadbent, you've got no'—I won't mention what he suggested I didn't have. I said, 'Well, if you introduce this you won't have anything.' We had a big discussion about it, and it was taken out of Fightback. So there's always more to the story.
Superannuation continued from that time. We've gone from naught in superannuation for those people to a $3 trillion bucket of money now. I understand what the member for Kennedy is saying about how that money is invested, but a lot of that money is also invested in very good public infrastructure or in major building works, like office buildings, and they are performing well. I have chosen to manage my own super. People still think that every member of parliament gets a superannuation payout when they leave anyway.