Superannuation should be left alone to prevent an erosion of confidence in Australia’s retirement income system, one of its early architects has said, adding the compulsory model has exceeded the expectations of those who created it.
Speaking at the launch of the Crescent Think Tank in Sydney today, former Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Bill Kelty said despite changes to the superannuation system by successive governments, it was time to take a hands-off approach.
“The most important thing to say to the working people of Australia is: ‘Stop all the changes to super, stop all this nonsense, stop threatening it all the time, leave it as it is,’” Kelty said.
He noted the compulsory superannuation system was “not perfect in terms of tax”, but it did have effective caps in place and should be left alone “so the generation can get confidence again in the system”.
Despite playing a key role in formulating the framework between the union movement and Keating Labor government that allowed for the introduction of compulsory super, Kelty said he did not want to see any changes that would revert to a past version of the system that would affect people into the future.
“That for me is more important than money, or running around and saying ‘it’s not our system, change it back’. Don’t change it back, leave the superannuation retirement system alone,” he said.
“That is not to say there are not issues, but people are making generational decisions and are sick and tired of governments coming in, changing it, reviewing it.”
He also stated the compulsory superannuation system had exceeded the outcomes that were expected of it when it was first created, pointing to strong rates of return for super over the long term and the benefits for those entering retirement.
“We anticipated by this stage that 40 per cent of people would not be dependent on pensions in retirement and that figure is now 50 per cent,” he said.
“On any measure, as a nation we have surpassed any of those anticipations and superannuation has revolutionised pensions and savings in this country.”