24 August 2016
Transcript - #2016111, 2016

Joint doorstop interview with the Hon Kelly O’Dwyer MP, Perth

SUBJECTS: $6.5 billion in Government savings measures taken to election by Labor; Labor seeks to deny Australians fairness and flexibility in superannuation


It's a beautiful day here in Perth. It is wonderful to be here in WA again and following the Prime Minister's visit not that long ago and joined by Kelly O'Dwyer the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services. We have been here today consulting colleagues on a raft of issues that will be coming before the Parliament over the next few weeks and months. I note today that the Leader of the Opposition has given a speech in Canberra today and has failed to really address some critical issues and that is he will he be supporting the savings that he said he would support before the election to improve the Budget as outlined by the government.

It's pretty straight forward - before the election he took savings that were in the government's legislation and proposed legislation and he included those savings in the forward estimates that he put to the Australian people. He shook with the Australian people on a deal to support those savings with the Australian people. So the issue for the Labor party and the Leader of the Opposition is will he now actually vote in accordance with that deal he did with the Australian people? Now he also seems to be confused about something very important – a saving is when you don't spend as much. Bill Shorten thinks a saving is a higher tax so you can't go around saying 'I have got savings' by putting up taxes, that is called a tax increase.

I know Bill Shorten has got lots of tax increases, in fact at the last election they were proposing to increase the tax bill on the Australian people by $100 billion over ten years. So we all know that Bill Shorten wants to tax people more. What I want to know is – is he prepared to support the government on the things he said he would to actually get expenditure under control. Now that Omnibus Bill deals with savings on expenditure. He will have his opportunity to support the government on other revenue measures, particularly on tobacco excise and things of that nature. Those Bills will come forward and I anticipate that they will support those as well, as they said. But this is about savings.

Now on the other issue which I wanted to comment on, superannuation, I will ask Kelly to comment on that more specifically, but what Bill Shorten proposed today was he tried to apply a 1970s type mindset of how people live and work today and how they earn and where they get their income. The big reasons why we made so many changes to superannuation in the last Budget was to make it more flexible, to make it more sustainable, to ensure that the tax incentives that are in the superannuation system are going further and working harder to ensure more and more Australians are able to be self-supporting in their retirement and not dependent on a pension or a part pension. The improvements we announced in the Budget improve flexibility. They support women particularly, support carers, support those who are in small business or who work for a small business. Those who might be a firie, but also work as a carpenter. Someone who has a home-based business but also at the same time is working as an employee. What Bill Shorten said to all of them today, dealing with the flexibility in their life circumstances over the course of their working life, where they earn their income, how long they work for or in fact how long they can actually contribute into their superannuation up to 75 - he says no. He wants to go back to the 70's where he thinks that everyone just gets a job at 18, they retire at 65 and nothing changes in between. Well that's not how it works Bill, and that's why we've changed the superannuation system to ensure that it's more flexible to support those changes that Australians deal with every day. Kelly?


Thank you very much, Treasurer. Bill Shorten today announced a very retrograde superannuation package. Bill Shorten today said he was going to attack women, carers, small business people, those people with interrupted work patterns. He wasn't going to allow them to get ahead, to save for their retirement, to have a strong retirement future. His scrapping of the changes for catch-up contributions will affect hundreds of thousands of Australians, those people who might have taken time out of the work force to have a child, who might be caring for an elderly parent, who might simply have needed some time out of the workforce to start up a business and therefore is not drawing any income. Under our policy those people will be able to get ahead. Under our policy they'll be able to catch up on their concessional superannuation contributions. In fact, from 1 July next year, on a rolling five year basis, they will be able to catch up on as much as $125,000 of catch-up contributions. So why is Bill Shorten attacking those people? Why is he attacking those people who simply want to get ahead, who are mums, who are dads, who are taking time out of the workforce to care for their children or who are carers for elderly parents. Why is he attacking them?

He has also announced today that he is going to scrap the changes that will allow for everyone to be able to make contributions concessionally on a level playing field. This costs about $1 billion to allow everybody to be able to get their contributions in concessionally no matter who they work for, who employs them or how they earn their money. This is important because it's fair. It's fair to allow everybody to be able to take advantage of their full concessional cap. Someone for instance who might be working for a small business who doesn't have the advantage of being able to salary sacrifice their concessional contributions will not be able to do that under Labor's policy because what will happen there is that they won't be able to make a personal deduction to take advantage of their concessional contribution. We're allowing them to do that. That is fair and that is right. And it allows small business people who are competing for talent to be able to compete on a level playing field. It allows a person who partly earns their income through a salary and also earns an income through their small business to be able to make their full concessional contributions. Why is Bill Shorten attacking those people?

We also think it's terrible that he's attacking older Australians. We want people to be able to contribute over a longer period of time, not simply once they hit 65. They should be able to contribute, if they want to, right up to the age of 75. Under our changes, they can do that. Under Bill Shorten they will be stopped. They will be stopped from making concessional contributions of up to $250,000 for their retirement future. So the question is why is Bill Shorten attacking aspirational Australians, people who work hard and want to get ahead and would like to save for their retirement?


Would you consider Labor's proposal to lower the high income super contribution threshold?


What we did is put a Budget measure to the Australian people at the last election and we were successful at that election. That package, as Kelly has just outlined, provides real flexibility to people over the course of their working lives and beyond. They are the measures we put to the Australian people and we are now working through with our colleagues on how that will now be presented to the Parliament. So the government will put forward its measures. I note what the opposition has said today but as Kelly has just outlined there are some serious problems with what they have put forward. We will announce, to the extent there are any changes to what we put forward, in due course. But what is critical is that the government maintain our very strong position on the Budget. We will ensure that our package delivers on that Budget objective and we will also make sure it delivers on the flexibility that is needed in superannuation arrangements for people across their entire life cycle. Because Bill Shorten is not going to let you make contributions into your superannuation now above 65 years of age, and we will take it up to 75, if a couple downsizes their home after the age of 65 they can't put it into their super. Now that is why we changed it. Because we know that is what people do. It is flexibility. They are making choices and we are trying to facilitate those choices. I know Bill Shorten said he wants to run the country like a union official but I didn't know he meant a 1970s union official. That is the sort of outlook he has got about how people work and live today.


Should Australia ban donations to political parties from foreign countries?


I will leave those matters to the Special Minister of State. He is the one who will be conducting the review of the last election and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters looks at all these things routinely after every single election and I am sure they will canvass those views and issues over the course of their enquiry.


Can I just ask you about the raids at Parliament House today? Has the Government overreached in its quest to find the source of the NBN leaks?


Well what the AFP does and where they go and how they investigate is a matter for them. The executive government has no bearing on those matters. Thank you.