Former PM Paul Keating has launched another broadside at the federal government’s growing reluctance about its promised increase to the superannuation guarantee.
Mr Keating, the architect of Australia’s super system, insisted the government could afford to increase the compulsory super guarantee, despite the economic fallout from the pandemic.
“Of course they can,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.
“Productivity is up, profitability is up, the cost of labour is going down.”
The super guarantee is legislated to incrementally rise from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent, starting with a modest move to 10 per cent in mid-2021.
But Australian workers look increasingly unlikely to receive the long-promised boost.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg appears to be softening the ground to break the Coalition’s election promise that it would go ahead with the increase to the compulsory superannuation guarantee.
“We are considering our options, in light of COVID-19,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC radio on Thursday.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of superannuation, I think it’s very important that people save for their retirement.
“But there is a trade-off, and the trade-off is between wages and saving for retirement.”
The legislated increase will take effect on July 1, 2021.
“We are still working through our options, we haven’t taken any decisions,” Mr Frydenberg said.
But Mr Keating said superannuation was a structural change to the economy and shouldn’t be taken away when times were tough.
He blasted a “miserable little backbench group” pushing a “bitchy policy” to unpick the superannuation system.
“We’ve got the best savings system in the world and these monkeys want to destroy it,” Mr Keating said.
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The Labor giant also railed against the Coalition for giving people early access to their super during the pandemic, which has led to $32 billion being withdrawn from retirement savings.
“Those people should not have been called upon for income support by raiding their own savings. This should have been paid for by JobKeeper [wage subsidies] right from the start,” he said
It’s the second time this week the former PM has railed against the Coalition’s attitude to compulsory super.
On Monday, he joined another former Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, in simultaneous media conferences to accuse the Liberal Party of using the crisis as cover to realise its ambition of dismantling superannuation.
Mr Rudd accused the Morrison government of a “cruel assault” on the retirement savings of working people – saying it had forced workers to “rip out” money from their superannuation by failing to develop “an economic policy alternative”.
“This is a really bad idea,” he said.
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