Super changes should go to an election

Superannuation changes election

Any government policy aimed at making changes to the superannuation system should be taken to an election to allow Australians to vote on the issue.

Federal opposition financial services spokesman Stuart Robert has called on the government to make any likely changes to the superannuation system an election issue to allow Australians to have their say on the subject.

“Before you make substantive changes to people’s retirement [savings] that have a lifetime impact, that should be taken to an election,” Robert said during a television interview yesterday.

His comments were in response to the announcement Assistant Treasurer and Financial Services Minister Stephen Jones made last week about the need to review the tax concessions currently associated with the country’s superannuation framework.

Robert noted it could be argued many elements of the current system require renewed discussion, not just the tax concessions available to superannuants.

“Perhaps the transfer balance cap is too low. Perhaps the concessional and non-concessional [caps] are too low. Perhaps we need to have a higher [contribution] catch-up rate, especially for women who find themselves in childbearing age and then come back into the workforce,” he said.

“They’re all appropriate comments to make. I think the Grattan Institute believes there should be no transfer balance cap, so there is a wide view of opinion.

“Let’s ventilate it, but on the grounds that whatever the solution should be that the Australian people will have an opportunity to make a judgment on this at an election.

“Labor can’t come in and say there should be no changes [to the superannuation system] and then a few months later pull these ideas out. It doesn’t work that way.”

While he acknowledged conversations about the current retirement savings system could be constructive, he questioned whether any further tinkering to what is recognised as a world-leading framework was really necessary, particularly given the basis being used to justify making changes now.

“When you’re planning for retirement you need long-term settings so you can make long-term decisions, especially in a country [with] the third highest taxation regime when it comes to personal exertion,” he said.

“So there’s got to be a long-term view and this has to settle down [to allow us] to say ‘these are the rules, this is what it looks like’. But having industry super [funds] coming out belting up the self-managed super fund industry – that’s not what this is all about.

“So settle it down, agree on the rules and don’t touch them.”

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