27 November 2015
Transcript - #2015056, 2015

Doorstop interview, Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Address to Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Conference; superannuation; Labor’s plans to bring back the carbon tax; Mal Brough; SA tax plan.

TREASURER:

It’s great to be here laying out the markers for the Government’s positive approach and positive dialogue we are having about how we can make our superannuation system stronger. It is one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world, it has a great history and it has the involvement of millions of Australians. We want to see a superannuation system where people have more choice - more informed choices - stronger governance and better information. That ultimately leads them to that, I think, great prize that, as Australians, we all aspire to, along with home ownership, and that is to be independent in our retirement.

When we look at superannuation, we don’t look at a big bucket of money to tax which is what the Labor Party does. What we do is, how can we make this system stronger for Australians so they can have an adequacy in their retirement incomes and enjoy a good standard of living which they have worked hard for and to ensure that we have a fair treatment of the tax arrangements around those issues. So, it is a good opportunity to do that.

I notice also today that the Leader of the Opposition is flagging a very high emissions reductions target - over 40 per cent - this is the sort of thing that the Climate Change Authority said would cost Australians more than $600 billion over a 15-year period. No wonder he wants to bring back a carbon tax with full fury to pay for those sorts of commitments.

That sort of a tax, that sort of an approach, is a tax on jobs, it's a tax on growth, it is a growth [inaudible] from the Leader of the Opposition.

What we are doing when it comes to the tax system is trying to have a better tax system that grows the economy, that grows jobs in the economy.

What Bill Shorten is talking about will only damage the economy, slow growth, which means fewer jobs for the Australian people.

QUESTION:

Does Mal Brough continue to have your continued support and the Prime Minister's?

TREASURER:

Of course, I repeat what the Prime Minister said.

QUESTION:

What do you think of Jay Weatherill's proposal to increase the GST to 15 per cent?

TREASURER:

I welcome Jay Weatherill's positive contribution to this debate. What he said yesterday was that leaders should be engaged in this debate and not sitting back, and I think that was a bit of a veiled attack on Bill Shorten and the Opposition who are sitting back. When it comes to tax reform in this country with their ciggie tax they are on a smoko - that's what they think tax reform is. No, changing the tax system is about growing the economy and Jay Weatherill has acknowledged that and put that in his speech. It's about how we work together to grow the economy and grow jobs and so we'll work through that proposal, COAG will be coming up in the next few weeks, and I really do welcome both his contribution and Tom Koutsantonis’, his Treasurer's, contribution to this debate. They are part of it. Sadly, their Federal Labor colleagues have chosen not to be.

QUESTION:

You mentioned that superannuation is our money not the Government's - why not just stop taxing it?

TREASURER:

We have tax concessions for superannuation contributions and it's a question of how we structure those tax concessions so they are best targeted. The whole point of the tax concessions we provide for superannuation is to ensure that those people who might otherwise have had to have lived a life on welfare in their retirement can live a life of independence. That's where we need to target those concessions so they are most principally focused on that as the outcome. So, that's where our focus is, to build a stronger, more reliable system of superannuation where there is better governance, better choice, better information and greater stability and certainty.

QUESTION:

You talk about wanting to help women and carers who take a break. Can you go to how that might be achieved?

TREASURER:

We are still working through those issues. I think it's important to acknowledge though, first, that the current superannuation system has a one size fits all approach to how people work through their working life to get to their retirement. We just know from life's experience that's not true. So, we are concerned at the lack of flexibility in the system that allows people in some cases to catch up or otherwise structure their arrangements so they can get themselves to a position of independence in their retirement. For some Australians, sadly, they won't be able to achieve independence in their retirement, and they will be on the pension, which is a welfare payment. But at the same time if we can encourage more and more Australians to get to independence in retirement, then that will mean we'll have a more sustainable, affordable aged pension for those who really need it.

QUESTION:

Might there be concessions around lump sum payments they might make when they come back into the workforce?

TREASURER:

Well, we are looking at a whole range of options when it comes to how we can address greater flexibility. Right now we have proposals in the Senate which are about improving the governance of superannuation funds. Those reforms, which mean better governance, better transparency, better stewardship of superannuation funds are being opposed by the Labor Party and the unions. Now, that's very disappointing. We hope they'll have a change of heart on this because superannuation is about the superannuant, it’s about the consumer, it's their money - no-one else's. It's not the Government's, it's not the fund's, it’s not the union's, it's their money and we need to ensure that their money is in the best possible hands and has the best possible governance arrangements. Why you wouldn't want to support better governance arrangements for superannuations that hold in trust some two trillion dollars for the economy and for people's savings, I don't understand. We are just trying to make the system better.

Thank you very much.