Doorstop - Logan

21 February 2016



SUBJECT/S: Government’s latest attacks on compulsory superannuation; Negative Gearing; Tropical Cyclone Winston

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION: To the people of Fiji and the people of Tonga, over there and here in the Australian community, our thoughts go out to you as you and your loved ones deal with the devastating impact of Tropical Cyclone Winston. For anybody here in Australia who is concerned about loved ones, I would encourage you and I would urge you to make use of the consular hotline that has been set up so that you can check on your relatives and friends in Tonga and Fiji as they work through the devastating aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Winston.

We've also had in the press this morning some very disturbing reports about yet another Turnbull Government attempt to wreck super.

This is a despicable attack on the very foundations of a decent retirement for working Australians by a Prime Minister who says he believes in super at the same time as he and his Ministers work to undermine super at every turn.

The Liberal Party has never believed in compulsory superannuation and this is the proof. Ever since it was introduced in the early nineties, they've campaigned against it, they've sought to destroy it and diminish it all along. They've never believed in it and today's revelations in the press are proof of that. 

Already they've frozen the superannuation guarantee, they're abolishing the Low Income Super Contribution and these revelations today show that they plan to go even further. The sum total of all of these measures will be like a missile strike at the retirement aspirations of Australian working people.

If they have a position on superannuation, they should put it on the table. After two-and-a-half years of this Liberal Government, it is well past time for them to be still clarifying their position on fundamental economic policy issues like superannuation.

They shouldn't be hiding behind these unsourced stories and leaks about their attacks on working people and their retirement incomes. They should put their plans on the table so that the Australian people can compare them with Labor's plans.

For almost a year now, Labor has had on the table a detailed plan for fairer superannuation. Australians have the right to expect the opportunity to compare Labor's plans with whatever the Liberal Party is now proposing.

At the same time as we have this debate about superannuation, we also have a debate about negative gearing. We've had the Deputy Prime Minister out this morning talking about negative gearing.

This from the Prime Minister and now the Deputy Prime Minister is a desperate and unhinged scare campaign which is long on dishonesty and short on fact.

Labor has a plan to make negative gearing fairer, to boost supply, to level the playing field between first home owners and investors, to create construction jobs, to fund health and education and to underwrite the future of this country.

Barnaby Joyce and Malcolm Turnbull are clinging to this desperate scare campaign because they want to distract from the fact that they have had every conceivable position on negative gearing and the Australian people are still none the wiser after two-and-a-half years what they plan to do with it.

JOURNALIST: A lot of these low income earners would end up relying on the pension at retirement anyway. What is the harm in them having some more pay in their working life?

CHALMERS: Anybody who thinks that this Government is interested in boosting the take-home pay of the Australian people has got rocks in their head.

The defining characteristic of this Government and this Prime Minister is that they say one thing and they do another. And while they say today that they're interested in the family budgets of the Australian people, at the very same time they're attacking penalty rates, they're cutting family payments, abolishing the Schoolkids Bonus - all of these measures combined which are having such a detrimental impact on the household budget.

So even when the Prime Minister and his Ministers say that they care about Australian working people, they care about middle Australia and the working class of this country, remember that it is this Government that is attacking Medicare, attacking family payments, abolishing the Schoolkids Bonus, abolishing the Low Income Super Contribution - all of these things, the sum total of which is like a missile strike to the family budget.

JOURNALIST: If this modelling is correct, some low income working families could have greater take home pay in their working life and then rely on the pension later on. Where is the harm in that?

CHALMERS: One of the reasons that Australian working people face challenges in the superannuation system from next year, which is the year that is quoted in the story, is that the Government is abolishing the Low Income Super Contribution. Now it says it all about this Government that having abolished the Low Income Super Contribution which makes the super system fairer for Australian working people, they now say that this is a problem that needs fixing. It's a problem of their own creation. And more broadly in the family budget - whether it's at the retirement level or throughout their working life, this Government has said that they care about middle Australia and working class Australians at the same time as they have done so much to diminish the capacity of the Australian people to make ends meet.

JOURNALIST: Would a possible problem with this idea be that while people might get a bit more in their take-home pay that the pay wouldn't rise the way that super could? And so employers might not be giving them as much? They'd end up behind anyway.

CHALMERS: The best thing we can do for Australian working people is to leave in place the compulsory superannuation system that gives them a greater chance of a decent retirement, combined of course with the pension system where that's necessary. What we don't want to see throughout Australians' working lives is the attacks on all of the things like Medicare and family payments and the Schoolkids Bonus. We don't want to see this double whammy from the Turnbull Government who at one level is attacking the capacity of families to make ends meet and now at another level attacking the very foundations of a decent retirement for Australian working people.

JOURNALIST: Can you be sure that your negative gearing proposals won't impact property prices, property values?

CHALMERS: Well Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce's scare campaign has been absolutely torpedoed by the experts. We saw Saul Eslake say yesterday that there would be no reduction in house prices, that we would still see sustainable increases in house prices. That just shows that the scare campaign mounted by Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce, which is reminiscent of the type of Tony Abbott scare campaign that we've seen over the last couple of years, is long on dishonesty and short on fact. We still expect to see sustainable house price increases because the changes we are making are not retrospective and there's a long lead time for their introduction. We call on the Government as they work through and finally come up with a position on negative gearing, we call on them not to make their changes retrospective. Our changes are not retrospective, they've got a long lead time and that's why Saul Eslake and other experts say that Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce's dishonest, unhinged scare campaign is not based on fact.

JOURNALIST: Just on the tropical cyclone, you'd have a lot of families in this area that would be impacted by that. Have you had any reach out to you?

CHALMERS: There is a huge Fijian and Tongan community around these suburbs that we're in today -- you're right. My heart goes out to them. I have a lot of Fijian and Tongan friends from this community and I know how tight-knit the communities are. I know their links back home are very, very strong. And I can only imagine that for so many of them this morning waking up, thinking about their loved ones, there would be an enormous amount of angst, and enormous amount of worry. I encourage them to use that consular hotline if they haven't been able to make contact with their loved ones. From our side, the Labor side, we intend to work hand-in-glove with the Government with whatever support that the Government can provide the people of Fiji and people of Tonga. They are our brothers and sisters in this part of the world - strong links not just in this community, but around the country and we want to see anything done that can be done to alleviate the suffering that they're going through today.