16 September 2016
Transcript - #2016054, 2016

Interview with Michael Brissenden, ABC AM

SUBJECTS: Superannuation, Omnibus

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Kelly O’Dwyer good morning.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Good morning Michael.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Does this show that even an ironclad proposal will be scrapped if just one backbencher threatens to cross the floor?

KELLY O’DWYER:

I think it’s a mischaracterisation of the changes. They are modifications and they’re modifications to make the superannuation system even fairer, more flexible and more sustainable. And the truth is, we absolutely listen to our colleagues and we have a number of colleagues who have had many detailed discussions on these and other issues. Colleagues like Trent Zimmermann, Melissa Price, Tim Wilson, Julia Banks, Lucy Wicks, Bert van Manen, Nicolle Flint, David Coleman, just to name a few. We talked to all of them because they –

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

But these changes are specifically in response, aren’t they, to some of the issues that many of those backbenchers felt hadn’t been addressed?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well obviously it’s important to make sure that when you are bringing forward a package, it delivers on the policy intent. Superannuation is not an estate planning vehicle, it is there to provide support for Australians investing in their superannuation, to provide them with a retirement income that will either substitute or supplement for the aged pension. That’s what we’re delivering in our package. We are scrapping the non-concessional lifetime cap, which is the contributions people can make into superannuation after tax. And instead we’re replacing it with an annual cap of $100,000 every year with a three year bring forward for those people who have less than $1.6 million in their superannuation.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

On the policy itself though, there were concerns, weren’t there, about the initial so-called retrospectivity that some saw in the initial bill that you were going to bring forward, and the original decision to impose a $500,000 lifetime cap as you were talking about there on after-tax contributions. Was all of that poorly thought out in the first place?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well we’ve improved the package. We’ve had discussions with industry stakeholders, with colleagues, we’ve made sure it can meet the Budget test, we’ve been able to pay for it. We’ve been able to improve the budget bottom line in so doing because we’ve deferred one of the other Budget measures, which is the concessional catch-up contributions, something that we very, very strongly believe in, which will give people even more flexibility to be able to catch up and put even more money into their superannuation to save for their retirement. It’s something that the Labor Party opposes, it’s very unfortunate, we’re very committed to it, but we have accepted that we will have to defer that particular measure for 12 months in order to pay for these changes.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

And initially there were obviously things in it that were opposed by members of your own party weren’t there? Was there no consideration given that there might be a backlash from within your own party?

KELLY O’DWYER:

With all pieces of legislation we have discussions with colleagues and with stakeholders on the implementation. That’s what we’ve done here, that’s what a prudent and responsible government does do and it’s no different for our superannuation reform package to any other package. This week has been a particularly successful week for the Government. We have passed the Omnibus Bill, we have increased the tobacco exercise. That’s more than $11 billion in budget repair that has gone through the Parliament just this week. And we have very clearly said to the Labor Party on the superannuation reform package, there is now no impediment for their support and they should accept our offer of a briefing, which they didn’t take up yesterday, they should get on board and they should deliver the flexibility and choice that Australians expect, want and demand.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Just on your own party still though, are you concerned that you might be sending a signal here that you might be emboldening backbenchers with other grievances?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Every one of my colleagues brings experience to the Parliament. Every single one of my colleagues represents their community. It is their job, it is absolutely their job to be involved in policy discussions. There’s nothing novel or new about that. That’s the way that a good government operates and we embrace it.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

On the policy itself, retrospectivity was clearly a concern. Right up until the policy was dumped, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer were describing the super changes as the best way to make the system fairer. Has all of this damaged people’s view of superannuation?

KELLY O’DWYER:

I think people want to know that they will be able to have the tools to plan for their retirement and what we have announced with our changes are a number of increased flexibility measures. We have levelled the playing field for people who want to be able to contribute to their super. Somebody who might work, for instance, for a small business that didn’t offer salary sacrificing, under our changes would get the ability to now take full advantage of their concessional contribution. More than 800,000 will now have that benefit. As I mentioned before, the catch-up contribution will allow more than 220,000 Australians to get the benefit of that. We are increasing the incentives for people to contribute to their spouse’s super, if they’ve got a spouse that doesn’t have a high income, and we’re giving them the tax offset to do that. These are all really positive measures that help people to save for their retirement.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Alright, just finally, you’ve shown flexibility on this Bill. The Omnibus Bill with its $6 billion worth of budget savings passed the Senate last night as well. This shows, doesn’t it, that you can compromise with Labor on some measures. Does it set the tone for more negotiations?

KELLY O’DWYER:

Obviously we welcome bi-partisan support to sensible measures going through the Parliament and we welcome Labor’s support of the Omnibus Bill. Obviously we had further Budget savings we wanted to achieve. Labor didn’t come on board with those but we will continue to prosecute those with others in the Parliament. We think it is good when people can come together to work in the national interest and we ask Labor to do that when it comes to our superannuation reforms.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN:

Kelly O’Dwyer we’ll leave it there, thank you very much for joining us.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Thank you.