Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Treasurer. On 20 November I spoke at a well-attended forum in Launceston convened by the Association of Independent Retirees. Strong concerns were expressed at that meeting about the possibility of unexpected or retrospective changes to superannuation. Will the Treasurer outline the government's approach to superannuation, and is he aware of any policy risks to the hard-won superannuation savings of everyday Australians?
Those of us on this side of the House understand and acknowledge the contribution made by Australians who have worked their whole lives for one particular purpose, and that is becoming a self-funded retiree. Becoming a self-funded retiree, an independent retiree, not dependent on government payments and things like that, together with homeownership, is one of the great aspirations of Australians. These are the things that we want to continue to encourage as a government. We also note that the pension is there for those who because of whatever circumstances in life have been unable to get themselves in a position of being fully independent in retirement. It is an important payment, it has to be a sustainable payment. The government has no plans to make any changes to the pension. Those matters were dealt with earlier this year when we ensured that those most vulnerable pensioners, those with the lowest level of assets, would be getting an increase in the pension—something those opposite voted against.
When it comes to superannuation, it is important that we understand there must be stability and certainty. Those opposite wrote the book on creating instability and uncertainty when it came to superannuation during their time in government. They saw the superannuation savings of Australians as a plaything for unions. This side of the House will not do that. This side of the House is focused on building a better superannuation system which encourages Australians and backs Australians to be independent in their retirement. That means there needs to be greater choice, there needs to be better governance. We note that to this day those opposite still resist and oppose the idea of better governance of superannuation funds. They do not want independence in government superannuation funds—what they want is unions controlling workers' money. That is what they want. On this side of the House we think there should be choice.
Ms Burke interjecting —
We think there should be better governance. We think there should be better information. When we talk about superannuation we are trying to help Australians be independent in their retirement.
Ms Burke interjecting—
When it comes to superannuation, they just see a big bag of cash that they want to tax so they can chase higher and higher and higher levels of spending. On this side, we are interested in providing certainty for retirement—certainty and stability which ensures that those who have saved and invested over their lifetime are not subjected to uncertainties in their retirement phase. I note those opposite want to crash the party when it comes to people in their retirement phase. They have made that pretty clear. When it comes to superannuation, we want to help and support and back Australians who are seeking to reach that aspiration of being a self-funded retiree. For those who cannot get to that level, we will ensure through our strong fiscal management that the pension will always be there for them.