Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014; Consideration of Senate Message
The opposition is happy for this issue to be dealt with immediately on one condition: this time we want the parliamentary secretary to give a speech; this time we want the parliamentary secretary to do what he was not willing to do yesterday. Yesterday we had to deal with these bills in the horrific situation of, for the first time in living memory, the government not merely keeping the legislation a secret, but also keeping the reasons a secret. I was in the situation yesterday of having to stand here and give the first speech on behalf of the opposition when the government had neither provided a copy of the bill nor a single reason in favour of it.
I will say now: we are willing to vote, for the procedural reason, that this be brought on, but we want for the first time the parliamentary secretary to end the secrecy and provide the decent behaviour that is expected from any member who wants to take on the privilege of being a member of the executive. If it is going to be brought on, let it be brought on this time for a debate; instead of the humiliation that was endured yesterday by this parliamentary secretary.
Question agreed to.
That the amendments be agreed to.
The government has delivered on our commitment to both the 2010 and 2013 elections to scrap Labor's failed mining tax. The government moved amendments to the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (Repeal) and Other Measures Bill 2014 in the Senate in order to secure passage of this important reform.
Application dates for rephasing the superannuation guarantee and the abolition date for the repeal of the low-income superannuation contribution, the income support bonus and the schoolkids bonus measures were amended. In the interim a means test will apply to the payment of the schoolkids bonus. By doing so, we will forgo around $6.5 billion in savings. The government will look to ensure that the cost of these changes are recovered in the medium term through the rephasing of the scheduled increase of the superannuation guarantee.
This package of amendments would be budget neutral by the end of 2022-23 financial year. Given the paltry revenue raised by the mining tax to date, these changes to the mining tax package would still deliver around $10 billion in savings to the budget over the forward estimates. In fact Treasury modelling confirms that abolition of the complete mining tax package of measures would save the budget around $50 billion over the medium term.
The amendments to schedule 6 of this bill further extend the pause in the superannuation guarantee rate for an additional three years. The superannuation guarantee charge percentage will remain at 9.5 per cent up to and including the 2020-21 financial year. It will then increase by 0.5 percentage points each year until it reaches 12 per cent on 1 July 2025.
The government is making responsible changes to the phasing of the superannuation guarantee increase to ensure the sustainability of the budget in the current circumstances. Given that increases in the superannuation guarantee are funded from reductions in take-home wages and business profits, rephasing the superannuation guarantee will mean more money in the pockets of working Australians and will boost economic activity and job growth.
The amendments move the abolition date for the low-income superannuation contribution to 1 July 2017—that is, the low-income superannuation contributions will continue to be paid for contributions made until 30 June 2017.
A cut-off date for payments, two years after the end of the 2016-17 financial year, is being set to enable the commissioner to streamline administrative systems, reducing the administrative compliance burden. It should have minimal impact on the proportion of low-income superannuation contribution payments made. This goes further than the government's 2013 federal election commitment and provides certainty and stability while the government examines superannuation as part of a tax white paper and financial system inquiry.
The amendments in relation to schedule 8 move the abolition date of the income support bonus to 31 December 2016. The coalition made very clear in the lead-up to the last election that, if elected, we were committed to getting rid of the mining tax and all of the unfunded spending promises, including the income support bonus.
In relation to schedule 9, the schoolkids bonus, the amendments move the abolition date of the schoolkids bonus to 31 December 2016. In the interim, the amendments better target the schoolkids bonus by introducing an income test, to ensure that only families with an adjusted taxable income of $100,00 or less will receive the payment.
The government has ensured that the cost of the amendments to the low-income superannuation contribution, the income support bonus and the schoolkids bonus will be offset over the medium term by rephasing the superannuation guarantee increase. While the government's negotiated package will be budget neutral in the medium term, abolishing the complete mining tax package will save the budget around $50 billion over the next decade. The government agrees to the Senate amendments.
This is a day which is not surprising. This is a day that will not come as a surprise to those Australians who know that there is one side of politics in Australia who support superannuation and there is another side of the parliament who do not. There is one side of politics that built Australia's superannuation system and will defend it and there is another side that seek to reduce and diminish superannuation at every single opportunity.
I say to the House—and I say it deliberately and I say it carefully—that this is a day of shame for the government. This is a day of shame because the government is attacking Australia's retirement incomes for those who can least afford it. This is a day of shame because this is the day the government says to Australia's low-income workers that they will get no help from this government in relation to saving for their future. This is a day of shame because this is the day the government attacks the very fundamental nature of our retirement income system—built on the pillars of the age pension, personal and private savings and universal superannuation.
This is a day of shame for the government because it is the day the government rips out, according to the Financial Services Council, $128 billion from Australia's pool of savings—or, according to Industry Super Network, $150 billion. Either of those figures are very substantial and either of those figures mean that this government is saying to Australians and to the Australian economy, 'We want less money in our pool of savings; we want fewer people saving for their retirement through superannuation; and we want to make it harder for, in particular, low-income workers, female workers and workers in rural and regional Australia.' That is why this is a day of shame for this government.
We are realists about how this vote will go, but we will vote according to our values. Our values will tell us that low-income earners deserve some support to save for the future through superannuation. Our values will tell us that all Australians deserve a dignified retirement regardless of their income and that Australians on a low or middle income deserve to have a dignified retirement no less than any other—and 12 per cent is vital to make it happen. We are going to see 12 per cent superannuation off to the never-never.
I say to the House that we should have had 12 per cent superannuation years ago. If the Howard government had kept its commitment to the Australian people, we would have had 12 per cent superannuation years ago. It took the Rudd and Gillard governments to say that we will have 12 per cent superannuation by 2019—and even that is too soon for this government, who hate superannuation so much that they are going back on a firm commitment to the Australian people to have a schedule to get to 12 per cent which would be delayed just two years. But now that they have come to office, they are delaying it by six. And I make this prediction: they will be back, because they will find even that six-year delay is not enough because they hate superannuation so much.
There are important questions before the House, and I want to take the opportunity to ask the parliamentary secretary, who has carriage of this bill, the Minerals Resource Rent Tax Repeal and Other Measures Bill 2014, to outline to the House the long-term impact on the budget of this change to superannuation—most particularly the age pension. How many people will be on the age pension because of these changes? What is the long-term impact on the budget? What is the long-term impact, according to Treasury projections, on the national pool of savings of the legislation that is now before the House? I would ask the parliamentary secretary to answer those questions.