Government steps up attacks on ‘flat earther’ super lobby

The government has suggested it may be considering a proposal to allow workers to opt-in to further SG increases, with the Treasurer chastising industry groups as “flat earthers” for denying the trade-off between super and wage growth.

The government’s rumoured move to make some or all of the legislated increase optional has been met with stiff resistance from lobby groups and Labor, who believe that it will leave workers with a higher tax bill.

“Retirement savings should not be at the whim of a desperate Prime Minister looking for a sneaky tax grab,” said shadow minister for financial services Stephen Jones, echoing claims made by lobby group Industry Super Australia (ISA).

“Raiding them is not a substitute for a proper wages policy. Scott Morrison should stop baiting workers with their own savings and find better ways to deliver on the Liberals’ failed promise to boost wages.”

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Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that he was focused on lifting super fund performance and lambasted lobby groups and politicians who denied the trade-off between wage growth and the legislated increase.

“That’s not rocket science … anybody who denies that there is a trade-off is effectively a flat earther. We’ll continue to assess that legislated increase, but the government’s focus when it comes to superannuation is to try and get fees down, to increase competition, to increase accountability and transparency,” he said.

Liberal MP Tim Wilson also blasted former prime minister Paul Keating for his accusation that the government was bowing to pressure from “zealot backbenchers” bent on destroying the superannuation system.

“And like clockwork the hogs squeal about the $3.1 trillion super trough not being topped up for them to feast through fees and multimillion-dollar bonuses because workers may actually choose to keep money in their pocket,” Mr Wilson wrote.

Making the legislated increase opt-in is an unconventional way to break the retirement policy deadlock, which has seen the Morrison government trying to balance its overhaul of the system with the need to fight with Labor going into the election. Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, a vocal proponent of opt-in super, recently told media that the idea was being “seriously considered”.

“The Prime Minister has done a lot to try and help people get into their first homes. We’ve had a number of first home saver schemes. And one thing we haven’t done yet as far as we could do is to open up to super for first time deposits and that’s something that I think we should do, especially for low-income earners,” Mr Bragg said.

Government steps up attacks on ‘flat earther’ super lobby
Josh Frydenberg
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