Wednesday, 19 June 2013
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation. How is the government helping lower-paid Australians build a stronger and more financially secure retirement? What other policies are there and what would be their impact?
I would like to thank the member for Bass for his question. He like everyone else in the Labor Party is interested in low-income workers and what we do for their retirement savings. He may be aware that there are 425,000 shop assistants in Australia who earn less than $37,000 and there are 83,000 cleaners and laundry workers and 185,000 Australians who work in hospitality and food preparation. All of these people earn less than $37,000 a year. In fact there are 3½ million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year.
That is why on 1 July 2012 it was Labor who axed the tax on superannuation taxes for people who earn less than $37,000 a year. No longer in Australia, if you earn less than $37,000, do you pay a 15 per cent tax on your superannuation. In fact in the next two months 3½ million Australians who work part time or full time and earn less than $37,000 are going to get more money in their superannuation, and for one reason—the Labor government.
I have been asked, though, whether there are any bad policy ideas out there and, just as our axing the tax is a good idea, there is a bad idea. The bad idea had its most recent run in the paddock courtesy of the Leader of the Opposition in his reply to the budget speech when he said that he will introduce a great big new tax on the superannuation—
The Leader of the Opposition said on 16 May that there would be a great big new tax on the superannuation contributions of people who earn less than $37,000. This is a bad policy for three simple reasons. Firstly, a person who earns $37,000 pays an effective tax rate on their income of about 9½ per cent—fair enough. But if the Liberals were elected, they would pay 15 per cent on their super. What economic genius in the coalition said it was better for low-paid workers to pay more tax on their super than on their take-home income?
But it does not stop there. There is another bad reason for this 15 per cent coalition tax. It is that 2.2 million Australians earning less than $37,000 are women. Women already have a gender pay gap. Women already do not get the chance to save as much money as men for retirement. But do you think that will stop the coalition putting a new tax on part-time women workers? Not at all. They want to put a new tax.
But of course the real problem in what they are proposing is not that they want to rob shop assistants or cleaners or kitchen hands—that is bad enough, but that does not convince them. It is that they want to hand back billions of dollars to multinational mining companies. This is the problem. We want to axe the tax on low-paid workers—they want to rob them. We want multinational mining companies to pay some of their returns to all of Australia—they want to give it back. Hands off our superannuation.
Opposition members interjecting—