The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen

Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law

9 June 2009 - 14 September 2010

Transcript of 06/07/2010

Interview with Marius Benson

ABC News Radio

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

SUBJECTS: Cooper Panel report into superannuation, MySuper, Western Sydney, asylum seekers

MARIUS BENSON:

Chris Bowen to begin with, can I just clarify the MySuper, no-frills superannuation scheme, is that just a plan or is that something the Government is definitely going to do?

CHRIS BOWEN:

Well it’s a recommendation to the Government from the Cooper review and we asked the review to provide us with ways to simplify and make the superannuation system more efficient. So I certainly endorse the objective that Jeremy Cooper and his panel have embarked upon. The detail I need to work through with industry as we normally do, which I will be doing in coming weeks, about some of the details of that plan.

BENSON:

Should be interesting consultation because the wealth management industry says this MySuper scheme is cheap, but it’s not just cheap, it’s cheap and nasty.

BOWEN:

Well it’s worth noting Marius, that there’s a lot more that the superannuation industry agrees on with this report, then they disagree on. There are many elements of the superannuation industry that support almost everything in this report. There are some elements say the bulk of the recommendations, but not the recommendations that go to MySuper, but I’ll be sitting down with all of them as well as with the community more generally, and consumers, and talking through those issues.

Superannuation reform isn’t easy; we’ve done a lot of superannuation reform over the last twelve months. We have introduced sweeping changes to the way we manage financial advice, which was controversial, but through an open and consultative mechanism, we came up with a plan which cleaned up the financial advice industry, put it on a more professional footing, got rid of commissions, etc, in a way that was supported by the Financial Planners Association and the Investment and Financial Services Association.

So that is the sort of approach we will be taking when it comes to these reforms.

BENSON:

 And did I see you say that you were hoping to implement this within two months?

BOWEN:

Well I said that I would have more to say about the Government’s response over the next two months, I’ll be consulting over the coming weeks, and I will have more to say in the coming period.

BENSON:

 There’s a pretty good chance that Australians will be voting in two months; is it going to be this term or would you hope that it would be your second term that you were going to do this?

BOWEN:

Well, obviously, in terms of implementation, this is a big task and there will be o legislation or anything like that, before an election. But I would be hoping to have more to say about the Government’s response in the coming weeks and months, and how that fits in with an election timetable, we’ll just have to wait and see, but regardless, I’ll be having more to say about it.

BENSON:

Okay there are statements expected from the Prime Minister today on asylum seekers, you were talking about that yesterday in the context of your Western Sydney electorate and saying there was a great deal of interest there. Is it anxiety that is the emotion that voters express to you in your electorate, about boat arrivals?

BOWEN:

Look I think the electorate treats this as a complex issue, just as it is a complex issue. I was asked about my response to the asylum seekers issue and I pointed out that my electorate, being in Western Sydney, is concerned about this issue, no question about that. I also pointed out that my electorate has received more refugees than most electorates, in terms of number of refugees, and so my electorate understands the value that refugees bring to the community. They also understand, and it is one of the biggest issues I see in my electorate office, many of my constituents have relatives sitting in refugee camps around the world, whether it is in the Middle East or in Africa, so they understand that we need an orderly process about these things.
I was making the point that it’s a nuanced issue that needs a very methodical and considered approach, and simple statements like ‘we will turn the boats back’ simply don’t cut the mustard. We need to have a very well developed process and that’s what this Government has done.

BENSON:

And that process is being considered by Cabinet, you are part of that Cabinet, and proposals to come from those Cabinet considerations are reportedly that there will be restrictions on welfare benefits for asylum seekers, that’s one suggestion?

BOWEN:

 Well Marius, you will be shocked to learn that I don’t discuss what happened at a Cabinet meeting. The Prime Minister has made it clear that she will have more to say about this very soon, about the general issue. Then we will be in a position to have a proper conversation, but until then, all I can do is point out to you, that we have considered the matter in a calm and methodical way. We will approach this in mature manner, which listens to people’s concerns, but recognise our obligations internationally.

BENSON:

And Tony Abbott is putting out some ideas of his own today, and one of those is that anyone who arrives here who has deliberately destroyed their identification papers will simply be turned around. Do you see merit in that?

BOWEN:

Look this is simply another thought bubble. It was only a few weeks ago that we heard Tony Abbott’s border protection policy, which he didn’t consult his party room on, and now we have another thought bubble. What he would need to do is explain how that policy would work; what he would do, if he were Prime Minister, if he were faced with a situation where a boat was in distress, would he turn it around? Just what thought has gone into this policy thought bubble I would question.

BENSON:

Chris Bowen thanks again.

BOWEN:

Please to talk to you Marius, as always.