Wednesday, 2 June 2021
Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Future, Your Super) Bill 2021; Second Reading
Yes, go on. Good one! No. I was there in 2004. I came back in 2004, when somebody out-Latham-ed Latham. The payouts didn't continue. There was a history of them, though, and they were very good for many parliamentarians. What Menzies said when he introduced the scheme was, 'We won't pay you much while you're here, but we'll look after you after you go.' That was the intention. Some politicians I know, after being here for a while, struggled greatly after being in politics, because you're not quite as loved afterwards as people think you will be. Having been here once or twice, I'm quite knowledgeable on these issues.
So we have this system. If you decide that parts of it are not working well, governments have the right to deliver legislation on behalf of who? There is only one group of people that the Liberals and Nationals are interested in here—and I know the Labor Party and the Greens and the Independents are too—that is, the members of those organisations that give their hard-earned into a superannuation fund for the benefit that comes back to them. That's what we're here for. We're here for the people who receive the benefits of the original intent of superannuation. The original intent was not only to give individuals wealth in their older years. It was not only to reduce older people's reliance on the pension. It was to build a fund of money that can be invested in this nation for the benefit of the broader Australian people. For me, they were the three parts to it, and I've never lost sight of where we should be going with it.
Parts of this legislation have been criticised. I was warned by the whip not to criticise anything the government is doing in this particular speech. I got the message and I certainly won't be doing that, so I'll concentrate on the very positive parts of this legislation. The positive parts are what the bill will achieve on behalf of the people that we represent, which are the beneficiaries of superannuation in this nation—all of those people who wouldn't otherwise have the benefit of superannuation.
But there are two sides to the story. There are two sides to every story. When this pandemic hit and the opportunity was given to people to go to their super for a benefit, I know people who had no other alternative but to go to their super. They had no other alternative but to go to their super, and it was a lifesaver for them to be able to go to their super. I'd love to think that in a better world they wouldn't have had to and that there would have been a benefit that would have been supplied to them by the government or their employer or however, but it was a lifesaver for those people to be able to go to their super once or twice during COVID.
Yes, there will be people who have to start all over again from a nil base. But what I like about this is that for the first time the employer can't just shove the money where they want to shove the money or have an agreement with a particular superannuation fund that every default will go to them. They'll actually have to ask: is there somebody that you've already got superannuation money with? It will be up to the employer to find where they're going to put the money for the new employee. Therefore, the benefit accrues to whom? Once again, to the individual person that we're in this parliament for. We're not going to forget that we're not here for the executive officers of these super funds. We're not here for them. We're not here for the benefit of those who work within it. We're not here for them. In fact, we put legislation around that to control what they're doing as best we can, as this legislation does. No, we're actually here for those people who know that they're going get a benefit along the track if the managers of that super fund do the right thing and have them as a focus the whole time—and have some talent and ability to get the best outcome for their clients. That would be their only focus. That's what I'm focused on tonight.
It is suggested that the savings will be $17.9 billion over 10 years. That's almost $5 million of benefits each day with these changes. Every day $5 million more will be going into the pockets of Australians from their efforts. I'm sitting next to another businessman who knows exactly what I'm talking about and who has employed a whole lot of people, as I have. There are very few of us in the House, but we know what it means to our employees. If we can deliver $5 million a day, every day, into the hands of Australians through superannuation, this legislation is worth every bit of the work we put in tonight. It's billions. It's a big, big industry. We want them to manage the funds correctly. This legislation goes to do that. We've taken the challenge to actually make changes to super, where no-one has accepted the challenge in the past because the super managers have said: 'We're too big. You can't touch us. We will tear you to pieces. We have the power. We will take out ads. We will be on 3AW threatening your government. We'll go to every one of our superannuation policyholders or clients and we'll say, "Don't vote for these people, because they're ripping off your super."' I just want to tell the members of those super funds: we're doing this legislation to give you another $5 million every day. Five million dollars every day will go into your super funds, into your pockets, into your future.
And it's not just about them; it's about generations of Australians, especially those that came here after the war and invested in a second house and were so frightened about negative gearing at the last election. As the member for Kennedy knows, that group of people might include construction workers with no skills or farm workers with no skills, but they've still got superannuation. Who is it for? That generation were never worried about themselves. It was always the kids—whether they were Vietnamese, Dutch, Greeks, Italians or Yugoslavs, as they were called in those days. None of you are old enough to remember that. For those people, it was all about their kids. Everything they ever did was about their kids. What we do to our peril, as politicians, is threaten that generation. They're a silent group in our community. They don't make noises. They have festivals and things, but they don't make noises. But they vote. Don't threaten the hard work that they've done over the generations, and super was a part of that. Don't threaten that, because their whole dream was not for themselves; it was for their children and their grandchildren.
I know some of those families—they've actually married into my broader family. They haven't changed. Their focus is still on their children and their grandchildren. Any super they earned they've still got, and they want it to go to the next generation. I know it was designed to be spent while you're alive. Try and tell them that. It's accrued wealth, as far as they're concerned, and it's their accrued wealth. That accrued wealth is to go to their children and grandchildren. They will work as hard as they possibly can, as they did prewar and postwar. They're the people that built this country, and they're watching everything we do when it comes to their finances. Do not threaten them. Thank you for the opportunity to say there's always more to the story.