Scott Morrison has confirmed a review of retirement incomes policy will be free to investigate radical options to axe super for low-income workers or make it voluntary, but pledged his government’s policy has not changed.
The Prime Minister again urged Liberal MPs who have called for an overhaul of superannuation laws to work within the party’s processes and toe the line publicly.
His remarks follow NSW MP Craig Kelly sparking debate on including the family home in the pensions asset test and Senator Andrew Bragg using his maiden speech to call for super to be voluntary for people earning under $50,000.
Asked whether Senator Bragg’s idea of making super voluntary will be considered, Mr Morrison said he did not want to limit the inquiry.
“That is a recommendation that has been put to us. We conduct that review, it’s one will be actioning and are not going to limit it. But the Government’s policy, let me be very clear, is what is set out in what the law of this country is and our policy hasn’t changed.
“Reviews look at all sorts of things, but they are reports of reviews, not of the government. And the government responds as appropriate, but I can only refer you again to what the Treasurer said yesterday about our plans, and what the Finance Minister has said about our plans, and indeed what I said about our plans on this topic.
“I was asked about this in the lead-up to the last election. And my answer to that was very clear; and I will keep the commitments that I made to the Australian people, not just on that matter but on all matters.”
Meanwhile, Liberal MP Craig Kelly has resurfaced on ABC television backing calls for super to be optional for people earning under $50,000.
“The question that Senator Bragg was putting forward was that someone who is earning under $50,000, is that person better off having that money taken off them and put in a super account, or would they be better off having that as an increase in salary?
“And I think that is a reasonable debate to be having and certainly all ideas in the space have to be welcomed.”
“I do not believe the system is working for Australians. Certainly, the case has not been made for ever bigger super. I would change direction: superannuation should be made voluntary for Australians earning under $50,000.”
— Senator Andrew Bragg (@ajamesbragg) July 24, 2019
Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said it was laughable the Liberals were claiming to care about wage stagnation.
“They’re trying to rob 13 million Australian workers of the superannuation increases that they need and deserve and were promised and have seen legislated,” he said.
“We defend superannuation partly because we’ve created it – we are proud of it – but mostly because superannuation is delivering a more dignified and decent retirement for Australian workers than would be the case otherwise.
“At the same time, it’s amassed this $2.8 trillion pool of savings that allows our nation to invest in its own future. Superannuation has been a massive success for this country and we shouldn’t run it down. It is the envy of the world. Other nations come here to observe our superannuation system and to try to replicate it.”
The Prime Minister also used Thursday’s media conference to confirm two major public service appointments.
Philip Gaetjens, a former chief of staff to Mr Morrison and former treasurer Peter Costello will be the next Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He takes over from Dr Martin Parkinson, who was appointed by Malcolm Turnbull and is departing two years before his contract is up.
Dr Steven Kennedy will become the next Secretary of Treasury.
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