The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Helen Coonan

Helen Coonan

Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer

26 November 2001 - 17 July 2004

Media Release of 29/01/2004

C001/04

29 January 2004

WHAT MR LATHAM DIDN’T MENTION IN HIS SPEECH

Labor has abandoned its proposed cut in contributions tax, two months after Labor leader Mark Latham trumpeted his plans to the superannuation industry, because it relied on a $700 million ‘saving’ that doesn’t exist, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan said today.

“I note there was no reference in Opposition Leader Mark Latham’s speech to the ALP National Conference today to policies the Labor Party had to abandon because of its dodgy sums. But Mr Latham is not alone in his trademark lack of consistency.

“A cut in contributions tax from 15 per cent to 13 per cent was announced with much fanfare in former Labor leader Simon Crean’s Budget reply speech in May 2002. It was a ‘fairer alternative’ to the Government’s $1.3 billion surcharge tax cut and co-contribution for low-income earners, Mr Crean said.

“Labor’s retirement income spokesman Senator Nick Sherry trumpeted Labor’s stance in May 2003 as ‘fiscally responsible and fully costed’. It was costed on a predicted $700 million ‘saving’ from scrapping the Government’s cut to the superannuation surcharge.

“Despite being part of the lengthy debate about the Government’s superannuation reform package, the Opposition has only just realised you can’t make a cost ‘saving’ from money that is already out there benefiting Australian workers.

“Labor voted against the cut to the superannuation surcharge, jeopardised the superannuation co-contribution for low income earners, claimed the Government hadn’t fully funded the $1.3 billion package and now abandons plans for one of the only ‘costed’ super policies it has.

“This is the party that wants the Australian people to believe it has economic credentials. Mr Latham made no mention today of the retirement needs of a greying Australia, creating incentives for people to save or increasing levels of national saving.

“Mr Latham spoke of nation building but failed to point out his party isn’t interested in supporting measures that make Australia’s superannuation system fairer, stronger and safer. This is the man that would have the super savings of Australian workers diverted to fund his pet political projects – super for urban renewal, seed and venture capital and agriculture.

“The Government provides substantial tax concessions to superannuation – worth $11.2 billion in 2003-04 and the average Australian worker will have an estimated 40 per cent more in retirement by investing money in superannuation.

“The Government is supportive of policies that can produce significant increases in retirement income, build the nation’s wealth and produce better retirement outcomes for Australian workers – policies such as the Government’s co-contribution scheme.”