Australian federal election 2016: Malcolm Turnbull faces superannuation backlash as postmortem begins

The Sunday Age

Michael Gordan

3 July 2016 12.46pm

Malcolm Turnbull is coming under massive pressure from within to recast the superannuation changes he took to the election amid widespread anger and despair in Liberal ranks over his election campaign.

My phone hasn’t stopped ringing this morning from people saying it serves them right.

Save Our Super campaign spokesman Jack Hammond.

“It’s now more obvious than ever that changes have to be made,” declared John Roskam, the executive director of the Institute of Public Affairs, who predicted early in the campaign that Mr Turnbull would soften the policy rather than suffer a backlash.

Mr Turnbull resisted the pressure, insisting that the changes only affected the most wealthy Australians and were not retrospective, as critics asserted.

“It was simply diabolical for the Liberal Party to be proposing higher taxes on people who save and work hard,” Mr Roskam told Fairfax Media.

A strong Liberal Party supporter, Mr Roskam said the superannuation debate had now morphed into a much bigger discussion about “why the Coalition was proposing higher taxes and more government spending” during the campaign.

“If you have two parties who are proposing higher taxes and higher spending, it’s most likely that people are going to vote for the party that genuinely believes in higher taxes and higher spending.”

Opponents of the Coalition’s superannuation changes insist they changed votes, reduced donations to the Coalition and diminished the Liberal Party turn-out at polling booths.

“Who knows how and why people voted, but it is certainly a view among many people that it had a major impact and that is attested to by the exit polling,” Mr Roskam told Fairfax Media.

“The debate on superannuation was reignited at 10 o’clock last night when I started getting texts and calls while I was sitting on the couch watching TV. It’s about the policy, it’s about the messaging, it’s about how was this allowed to happen, and now how do they fix it?”

Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz, who lost his cabinet position when Mr Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as prime minister, agreed, saying: “The issue of superannuation is very dear to the core base of the Liberal Party.

“To have the certainty of that being compromised did send shock waves through that sector of the community that are our core supporters.” Another MP who declined to be named said the issue “really hurt the Liberal party base”.

The spokesman for the Melbourne-based Save Our Super campaign, Jack Hammond, says he was not surprised that the Coalition suffered losses after proposing changes he maintains were unfair and penalised those who had acted in good faith.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing this morning from people saying it serves them right,” Mr Hammond said.