Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to Senator Cash, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. Can the minister confirm that the government is committed to removing the low-income superannuation contribution, which will hurt 50 per cent of the female workforce and which has been raised as a real concern by a number of women's organisations across the country?
I thank Senator Moore for her first question to me in this place in my capacity as the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women. In relation to the ending of the low-income superannuation contribution, abolishing contributions made under the low-income superannuation contribution on or after 1 July 2013 is consistent with the government's commitment to abolish the LISC whilst in opposition. We made a commitment in opposition; we have followed through with it in government—unlike those on the other side, who said one thing in opposition and then did a completely different thing in government.
But the important thing in relation to the low-income superannuation contribution is this: where was the funding for this contribution derived from? In fact, I think we have been debating that bill for some time today. It is called the mining tax—the mining tax which the former government stated would raise a certain amount of money, in the billions of dollars. They spent that money making commitments to Australians, some of them the most vulnerable in this country, knowing full well they would never, ever be able to meet those commitments.
You come into this place and you have the audacity to ask us why we are keeping a promise that we clearly made to the Australian people. The mining tax was a failed tax. The mining tax did not raise the money that you said it would raise. A fiscally responsible government is what we are. We told the people of Australia prior to the election exactly what we would be doing. The Australian people cast their vote—
Order! Senator Moore, it is people on your own side who are drowning you out. On my left: I am waiting to call Senator Moore.
Honourable senators interjecting—
Order, on my left and my right! I am waiting to give Senator Moore the call.
Can the minister confirm that it would be the government's consistent policy to take the axe to the retirement savings of Australian women so as to give a tax break to mining companies?
Clearly, the answer to that question is no. But I will tell you what this government is doing to help low-income earners, despite the actions of those on the other side: we are abolishing the carbon tax—the carbon tax that you promised you would never introduce in opposition; the minute you got into government you did a backflip. This government is committed to getting rid of the carbon tax, which clearly places an unfair burden on everybody in society but in particular on those who earn less. I will tell you the other thing we are doing for low-income people in this country: we are adding superannuation to the Paid Parental Leave scheme, something those on the other side just completely forgot about when they designed their scheme. They stand up in this place and they go on about retirement savings, but their own paid parental leave scheme did not include superannuation. Do not come into this place and accuse us of not taking care of low-income workers.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister confirm what further cuts that will hurt women on low incomes—which would be consistent with government policy—are recommended in the secret Commission of Audit report which has now been with the Prime Minister for over a month?
It shows remarkable audacity to come into this place and ask about cuts we may or may not have to make because of the fiscal incompetence of those opposite during their six years in government. Do you remember the $22 billion surplus we left you? It took us 10 years to pay off the debt you racked up the last time you were in government. We paid it off, we gave you $22 billion and we gave you zero interest. We gave you money in the bank, and what did you do? You blew it all away.
Mr President, I rise on a point of order on the issue of relevance. I know the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women may not wish to talk about women on low incomes, but that was the question.