Financial advisers have been urged to join a campaign against the government’s slated changes to superannuation that may see Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer replaced in the seat of Higgins.
Speaking to ifa, barrister and former Fraser government staffer Jack Hammond QC said financial advisers and other superannuation professionals would be fitting candidates to join the ‘Save Our Super’ campaign he formed following the 2016 federal budget.
Mr Hammond, who was planning to retire from his legal practice until Treasurer Scott Morrison announced a raft of superannuation changes, is hoping to see a grandfathering clause introduced for retirees that will be affected by the reforms, but says he is not hopeful given the lacklustre response he has received so far from Ms O’Dwyer.
“Government should be able to change super policy if it has community backing to do so, but it should have a bipartisan view that you don’t simply change it without grandfathering,” Mr Hammond said.
“The rules when you go in should be the same rules when you retire. This is a broken promise and 180 degrees from what they had previously said. It represents a breach of trust and has introduced uncertainty, including for financial advisers.”
The former prime-ministerial adviser said the government has placed advisers in an unfortunate position where they can no longer rely on past policies but have to place a “caveat” on their retirement recommendations that government may ultimately change the rules.
While he is not a member of the Liberal Party, Mr Hammond said he is aware that a number of supporters of the Save Our Super campaign also active in the party are seeking to have Ms O’Dwyer removed due to her support of the superannuation changes and “carriage” of the issue.
The comments follow reports in the mainstream press that Peta Credlin, former chief of staff to Tony Abbott, is being sounded out as a potential replacement for Ms O’Dwyer by Higgins constituents sympathetic to the Save Our Super cause.
Though he confirmed that there is a move underway to roll Ms O’Dwyer from her seat, Mr Hammond denied that the group is deliberately timing the push in line with the minister’s current maternity leave, describing the charge as “complete rubbish”.
Asked whether the wider electorate would be supportive of the campaign given the changes only affect high-net-worth individuals, Mr Hammond said it is “bad policy and bad politics” for all Australians.
“The main issue is not the persons that the government is targeting now, but a matter of trust on a policy issue of great national importance,” he said.
The Grattan Institute has estimated that just 4 per cent of superannuants would be affected by the government’s proposed changes.
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