Derryn Hinch wary on super, seeks ABCC compromise, live export ban

Australian Financial Review

12 August 2016

Ben Potter

Derryn Hinch, the celebrity journalist turned senator-elect, says he has problems with the Turnbull government’s plan to wind back superannuation tax breaks for the rich.

Mr Hinch, who had a liver transplant five years ago, also said he wanted a compromise on the government’s construction industry watchdog, a ban on livestock exports and a million more organ donors.

Mr Hinch won a Victorian Senate seat in last month’s federal election, making him one of 12 crossbench senators the Turnbull government will have to court to pass bills spurned by Labor and the Greens.

He told AFR Weekend he got a lot of feedback on the super changes during the campaign “and if they say it didn’t affect their vote they are dreaming”.

The government wants to cap the super nest egg on which earnings for over 60s are tax free at $1.6 million, limit non-concessional contributions to $500,000 and cut the cap on annual concessional contributions for over 50s to $25,000 from $35,000.

The measures are aimed at reining in the budget deficit and defusing criticisms the super concessions favour the rich. But they were criticised for breaching a convention against retrospective legislation, and triggered a backlash among coalition supporters.
Fear of retrospectivity

“The thing that hurt them most was the fear of retrospectivity. I think that – rightly or wrongly – is what they fear the most,” Mr Hinch said. He said voters who did something five years ago in order to fund their retirement in 2025 didn’t like being told they had done the wrong thing.

Treasurer Scott Morrison this week offered exemptions for “life events” such inheritance and divorce payouts.

Katy Gallagher, shadow financial services minister, said Labor wanted to wind back costly super tax breaks for the rich and would work “constructively” with the government, but didn’t have any details.

On the Australian Building and Construction Commission, Mr Hinch said he didn’t want to “risk anything that will hurt workers but I also loathe corruption, so somewhere between those two we’ll work out where to go”.

The government wants to reinstate the ABCC to combat systemic corruption and illegal activity by construction unions and some employers uncovered by the trades union royal commission.

Mr Hinch wants to get a million more organ donors by changing the rules so that grieving family members can’t overrule a donor’s election. He said he expected live animal exports to be “the biggest battle” of the coming parliamentary term.

The livestock industry and nationals leader Barnaby Joyce – a staunch supporter of live exports – says monitoring of offshore slaughter has improved since the former Labor government slapped a shortlived ban on the trade in 2012. But Mr Hinch said “if you don’t know the Vietnamese are beating the shit out of cattle with a sledgehammer you can’t police it”.