TUESDAY, 9 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Scott Morrison’s broken superannuation promise; union demergers.
MICHELE O’NEIL, ACTU PRESIDENT: We’re here with today with workers talking about the importance of having our superannuation at an adequate level. At the last election, the Federal Government went to an election with a promise, a promise that they would keep the increases that are due for superannuation in place. At the moment Australian working people get 9.5 percent in their superannuation. It’s due to go up to 10 percent in July this year and then rise to 12 percent. This is not just a policy, this is in law. And now we’ve had the Federal Government actually saying that they are going to seriously consider stopping those increases. And they are trying to fool working people, trying to fool working people that cutting super would somehow end up in people’s pockets, in their wages. And we know this is a lie. We know it’s a lie because we saw seven years of delay in superannuation increases, seven years where this Government froze increases in superannuation where this Government promised that workers would see that in wages. But instead what we saw was the lowest wage growth in Australian history. Instead what the Government really wants, their real agenda, is no increases wages and no increases in super. And the hypocrisy of this when Federal Parliamentarian get 15.4% in their super. So it's good enough for them to get 15.4 percent, but ordinary working people and then to stay on the inadequate amount of 9.5 percent? And we know what that means in people's retirement. It means that you don't have enough to leave with dignity. We already see today working women retire with half the amount of superannuation that men do. And we've seen this Government through the pandemic punish the very people that have carried us through. 720,000 workers have had to raid their super to get by because I didn't have the support they need it. And now we have this push, this obscene push, to have workers superannuation ripped away from them. And it coincides with the exact same time where the Federal Government is also trying to push through their IR omnibus bill to that will cut workers’ wages, reduce their rights and add to the insecure work. So today we're going to hear from working people about what this means. The very real cut it will mean in our dignity and retirement if you don't have enough to live on. How it's not enough to say to people you can just raid your home and mortgage your home at the point of retirement. Australians should be able to enjoy, and we should be proud to enjoy, a superannuation system that lets every person retire with dignity, not plunge people into poverty. Thank you very much and I’ll hand over to Stephen Jones, the Shadow Minister
STEPHEN JONES, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Thanks very much. It's great to be here at Victorian Trades Hall, the home of the Victorian trade union movement with Michele O'Neil, the President of the ACTU and Deb and Zelda who are rank-and-file members, community workers, with the Health and Community Services Union. Before the election Scott Morrison made a solemn promise to the Australian people that he wouldn't cut their superannuation. All Australians deserve to retire with security and with comfort. Nine and a half percent is not going to be enough. How can Scott Morrison argue that 9.5 percent is enough for the people that cleans his office, the people who staff our supermarkets or who work in our community services, but 15.4% is essential for Federal Politicians? It's hypocrisy. So my message to Scott Morrison: Keep your promise. My message to the crossbenchers, my message to One Nation, to Jacqui Lambie, to all of the crossbenchers in the house and in the Senate: Don't help Scott Morrison break his promise. He made a promise to every Australian worker. We will not assist Scott Morrison in breaking his promise not to cut superannuation. Scott Morrison says 9.5 percent is enough. Well, the average Australian woman retires with $118,000 in her retirement savings account. Scott Morrison and Christian Porter, the Industrial Relations Minister, earn more superannuation in two years than the average Australian woman is retiring with. So we're not going to help Scott Morrison break his promise to the Australian people. We’re calling on the crossbenchers, we're calling on every Member of Parliament, keep your promise so that every Australian can retire in security and with dignity. Thank you very much.
DEBBIE, DISABILITY CARE WORKER: My name is Debbie and I am a disability worker. I’ve worked in the disability sector for 30 plus years. I’m sick of broken promises. In 2014 we were promised an increase in superannuation. We didn’t get that. And instead we were promised a pay rise, we didn’t get that either. That cost me in excess of $5,500 in potential superannuation earnings. If this new price increase doesn’t go ahead, up to 10.5 percent and then up to 12 percent by 2025, that’s bound to cost me in excess of $21,000 in my superannuation, my money for retirement. I’m already in a bad spot with demographics, I’m a woman so we have a gender pay gap of 13.4 percent. That $21,000 might not sound like a lot to you, but to me that makes a difference between putting the heating on in winter, and eating meal that night. I’m over it. I’ve had enough. I want my money, I want my super and I want to retire with dignity.
ZELDA, DISABILITY CARE WORKER: (indistinct)
O’NEIL: Thanks very much to Zelda and Debbie and Stephen. As you can hear, the union movement is determined to campaign to ensure that workers in the superannuation they deserve, but not just they deserve what they need. Working people shouldn't have to face working till they drop. They shouldn't have to face retiring in poverty. And the lifting the super guarantee to 12 percent is critical to give people that confidence and dignity in the later part of their lives. We call on Scott Morrison to stop this now. Guarantee that the legislated increase to 10% and then have up to 12percent superannuation will continue.
JOURNALIST: I’ve got a question on another matter. The Prime Minister said this morning, he expects the IR bill, debate on the main IR bill, to go ahead next week in the senate … (indistinct)
O’NEIL: The Government’s IR omnibus bill is bad law. It’s legislation that would cut workers’ pay, conditions and rights. The very same workers that carried us through the pandemic. This is not what Australia needs. At the moment working people and small business and the economy need certainty. They need people with money in their pockets to spend so people can recover. This bill, this legislation, will actually take Australia backwards. We’re determined that this legislation will not passed in its current form. And what we would say to Scott Morrison is that he should withdraw it. It's not a matter of who's the Minister but it is the case that the current Minister Christian Porter has done the work over at many months on this bill. We can't see, with the absence of the Minister, that the Government has any opportunity or chance to really listen to the concerns of working people and the people that will be most affected about what's wrong with this bill. So they should pull it. They shouldn't proceed with any part of it next week.
JOURNALIST: How do you think the senate cross bench is viewing the bill now, you’ve been talking with them?
O’NEIL: The Senate cross bench have been open in my discussions with us. And they’ve been listening to the concerns of working people and I thank them for that. But they also have concerns. They’ve said there are elements of the bill they can’t support and this is another reason why the Government shouldn’t proceed with it.
O’NEIL: Internal matters within the unions come up from time to time. They are always matters for the members of those unions.
JOURNALIST: But do you support the demerger bill getting passed in the first instance? Will there be more breakups that happen?
O’NEIL: The issues in relation to demerger and what is happening in terms of the changes to the legislation were ones that the ACTU did not consider before that bill was passed in Parliament.
JOURNALIST: But you support them now?
O’NEIL: It was not one we considered before it went to Parliament.