Government needs to be ‘very careful’ about changing super rules

The Australian

9 September 2016

Rachel Baxendale

Tony Abbott says the government needs to be “very careful about changing the rules once the game has started”, as internal consultation continues over the Coalition’s proposed changes to superannuation tax concessions.

The former prime minister’s comments came as Finance Minister Mathias Cormann declined to speculate on how long it may take to legislate the reforms, indicating the consultation process may drag on.

Speaking to 2GB’s Alan Jones, Mr Abbott reiterated his concerns about a proposal to cap non-concessional (post-tax) contributions at $500,000.

“This is one of the issues that Coalition MPs have been discussing, it’s one of the matters that the government is considering in the post-election period,” Mr Abbott said.

“My own view, as you know, is that superannuation is not the government’s money, it’s our money, it’s your money, it’s money that we’ve saved up over time.

“In many cases it’s money that we have invested, it’s not concessional money, it’s after tax money that people have put in and governments should be very careful about changing the rules once the game has started.

Mr Abbott acknowledged the difficult fiscal position the government must confront, and said it was important to ensure superannuation was a “retirement savings vehicle rather than a wealth management vehicle”.

“But still we have to be careful about the changes that we make and there are lots of members of parliament right now who are saying on behalf of their constituents, let’s think carefully about these things, particularly this issue of the $500,000 cap on non-concessional contributions,” Mr Abbott said.

Amid speculation a revised package of superannuation measures could be presented to the Coalition party room when parliament resumes next week, Senator Cormann indicated the timeline was likely to be more drawn out.

“I obviously don’t talk and discuss what is discussed in the party room, but our reform to superannuation tax concessions is a very substantial reform package, it’s designed to make the system fairer, more sustainable and fit for purpose,” he told Sky News.

“Most of these changes actually don’t come into effect until 1 July 2017, so we’ve got time to go through a proper process.

“We said before the election that there would be consultation after the election.

That consultation has been taking place, and obviously when the Treasurer and the Minister for Financial Services and Revenue is ready to take this to the next step, they will do so.

Asked whether that meant the next step could be some weeks off, Senator Cormann declined to speculate on timing.

“We’re going through a proper and orderly process and when they’re ready to press the button on the next stage, I’m sure that they will do so,” he said.