08 September 2020


SUBJECTS: Malcolm Turnbull support for the super guarantee rise; the government’s failure to release the retirement income review. 

STEPHEN JONES MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Malcolm Turnbull has joined the superannuation debate by making a rather unspectacular observation and that is that superannuation is not rocket science. He made the observation that superannuation has been a great Australian achievement. We agree. He made the observation that superannuation is already providing great benefits to Australian retirees. We agree. It's time for the government to stop this war with itself on the future of superannuation and confirm the promise that it may before the last election to increase superannuation in accordance with the superannuation guarantee legislation. It's time for the government to focus on the real problems and ensure that we secure Australia's retirement savings system. I want us to have a think about what it was, the reason that we embarked on this journey for superannuation in the first place. You know, back in the 1990's, when we started the process of building a retirement savings system, there were six workers for every retiree. In the 30 years since we started building our retirement income system, there are now all four workers for every retiree. So the challenge of an ageing population has not gone away. In fact, it's got worse. So while the government debates with itself, while the minister moves from ‘ambivalent’ to‘conflicted’ this problem is still with us.This problem is still with us. We agree with Paul Keating. We agree with Ken Henry. The superannuation guarantee legislation is not a cyclical answer to a cyclical problem. This is a structural change to enable us to deal with the challenge of this. It is structural change to ensure we aren’t kicking the problem down the road, we aren't saying to our grand kids; forget about retirement savings, we're going to put it all on the tab and let our grand kids pick up the bill. It's time for the government to end the senseless speculation. A prime minister who thinks out loud, the superannuation minister Jane Hume who moves from ambivalent to conflicted. Stick to your promise. Let's ensure we continue to build our superannuation system. A superannuation system which has done so much to build the wealth of this country and ensure that retirees are going to have a dignified retirement. I want to say something about this proposition that the government often puts out there that there are groups out there that are supporting their argument to cut superannuation. A cut to superannuation means a cut to retirement savings, all Australians are going to be worse off. Happy to take questions.


JONES: Let’s be clear about the Grattan Institute’s argument. The Grattan Institute is arguing to freeze or cut superannuation and a massive increase, a massive increase to the pension and ACOSS is arguing a massive increase to the pension. The government is doing with neither of those things. They are freezing the pension and proposing a cut to super. So let's not have this argument that somehow if we cut superannuation then this issue of an ageing population goes away. It doesn't. It becomes harder for future Australians to be able to afford. It’s the wrong thinking. Presumably the government's own retirement income review has told them this, otherwise they would have released it already.

JOURNALIST: The government says that the review is 650 pages long, that they need time to consider and respond appropriately. Isn’t that fair enough?

JONES: We’ve had a month and let's be very clear about this, the government commissioned a review to inform the future of retirement incomes policy. They specifically said to the review; we just want facts, we don't want recommendations. I think in the middle of a debate around the future of superannuation, we're all entitled to see the facts with the government has commissioned. We are all entitled to see the facts that are in that 600 page report that the government has been sitting on. They can deliberate their response to that factual basis while the rest of Australia can deliberate same thing.