LNP warns Turnbull over super “madness”

The Australian

26 July 2016

Michael McKenna

Malcolm Turnbull’s superannuation changes have been branded as “madness’’ by the Liberal National Party’s small business policy committee.

In a motion to be debated at the LNP’s state convention next month, the committee said the Turnbull government had “broken faith’’ with the Australian people in the changes announced in the May budget.

Aspects of the superannuation overhaul — particularly plans to implement a $500,000 cap on non-concessional contributions back to 2007 — has caused division within the Coalition and are openly opposed by some incoming Senate crossbenchers.

While the Prime Minister has indicated the changes could be subject to “fine-tuning” , he last week insisted the $500,000 cap was “absolutely right’’ .

Mr Turnbull is expected to outline the first draft of the proposals before federal parliament resumes on August 30 — just days after the LNP state convention.

The policy committee, headed by Queensland businessman Paul Smith, has called on the government to change the cap and that any changes to the treatment of superannuation should not be retrospective.

The committee accused the government, which hopes to raise $550 million from the $500,000 cap, of breaking assurances not to target superannuation.

“On budget night 2016, the government broke faith with the Australian people and undermined their trust in the superannuation system,’’ the motion reads.

“Although there were positive changes, several measures broke repeated assurances that there would be no additional taxes on superannuation and that ‘the government is not coming after your superannuation’ .’’

The move comes just days after a push by some in the LNP to consider setting-up a separate partyroom in Canberra.

The LNP state executive narrowly defeated a motion to formally assess the proposal amid anger over the make-up of the Turnbull frontbench.

LNP president Gary Spence last night said he was unaware of the small business committee’s superannuation motion, which still has to be vetted before it is put on the agenda of the three-day state convention from August 26.

The committee was scathing of the proposed “$500,000 contribution cap’’ and the government backdating the measures to 2007.

“Australians have planned for their retirement in good faith and have foregone alternative investment or lifestyle opportunities to save enough for their retirement so they would not be a burden on the taxpayers,’’ the motion reads.

“They now find that there is no traditional ‘grandfathering’ of these changes.

“Instead they are told that they are not retrospective. Whilst this is correct in a technical sense, they are retrospective in effect and to say otherwise is perceived as arrogant and out of touch.’’

The motion calls for the government to further consult on superannuation changes, to recalculate any proposed cap and not backdate the changes.

“The total funds allowed in superannuation accounts should be capped by actuarial formula related to the value of the government benefits to be forgone,’’ the motion said.

Outspoken Queensland MP George Christensen last week warned he would cross the floor if the “bad’’ superannuation policy wasn’t changed, calling the changes “Labor-style policies’ ’ that hurt people who had worked hard all their lives.