The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

28 May 2013

Doorstop Interview

Joint interview with
the Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation
and
Andrew Leigh MP
Federal Memeber for Fraser
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

Canberra

SUBJECTS: More Super Calculator; Increase in Superannuation; Electoral Funding; Parramatta to Epping Rail Link.

LEIGH:

Welcome everyone to the Novotel, Canberra in the electorate of Fraser. I'd like to thank very much Natalie, Jill, Rebecca and Steve in the kitchen for making us all so welcome today. We're here today to talk about superannuation, with me is Bill Shorten and Wayne Swan, and I'll hand over to Wayne to talk about the announcement this morning.

TREASURER:

Thanks very much Andrew. We're here today to talk to the local workers about the importance of the Superannuation Guarantee and to announce the update of the More Super calculator, which is pretty important so that people can figure out how much more they are going to have in retirement from the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee which starts to go up in about a months' time - from 1 July. This is a very big reform, the increase in the Superannuation Guarantee from 9 to 12 per cent. For a 30-year-old worker who is down there in the kitchen, on average wages, this will mean an additional $127,000 if the increase in the SG goes ahead in full when they retire. So a lot of Australian workers on modest wages have got a very big stake in ensuring that this goes ahead, so that they can have some dignity and support when they retire. So [superannuation] is a great Labor reform, which we're building on with an increase on the SG. Superannuation is not just good for the individuals concerned, so they have a decent retirement income, it's also great for our economy. It provides stability. Superannuation was something that was very important in how Australia got through the Global Financial Crisis; it helped recapitalise many of our large companies during that period, it's a great ballast for our economy and a great Labor reform that we're very proud of. You can see what benefit it will bring to many people in our community on modest incomes. I'll just throw to Bill.

SHORTEN:

Good morning everyone. Great to be in Andrew Leigh's electorate of Fraser in the Novotel Hotel talking to hospitality workers. The Federal Government introduced a change last year, which will see every Australian who earns less than $37,000 a year paying no tax on the money that goes into superannuation. There are 3.6 million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year, no tax on super going into their superannuation accounts for 3.6 million Australians.

It was disastrous news to hear the Opposition Leader and the conservatives reply to the Budget only Thursday week ago, where they said that they are going to introduce a new tax on three and a half million Australians who earn less than $37,000 a year. They are going to make Australians, the 224,000 workers in the hospitality industry, some of whom work right in the building here today; they are going to make low-paid workers pay a new tax of 15 per cent. This is crazy economics, it's crazy priorities. On one hand they want to give the richest mining companies in the world a tax refund, and on the other hand they are saying to every hospitality worker, every bottle washer, every part-time cook, every waiter in Australia – ‘hey vote conservative and you're going to pay a new 15 per cent tax'.

The fact of the matter is: that if you are getting an extra $500 tax-free in your super, if you earn less than $37,000 a year, you are going to literally have tens of thousands of dollars more in retirement than you otherwise would. So the Abbott conservative opposition have broken a promise they said that they would not make any detrimental changes to superannuation. Robbing poor people, to pay rich people – robbing poor people and making them pay [more] tax to give a refund to the world's richest billionaires is something straight from the Mitt Romney Republican playbook, it makes no sense.

The people who are serving breakfast this morning to all of the travellers and tourists, not just in Canberra, but everywhere in Australia, why should the waiters and the cooks, the mums returning to work part-time - because six in every ten people who earn less than $37,000 is a woman Australian worker, with broken service, with lower superannuation balances. Tony Abbott has declared his own form of war on low-paid workers, by making them pay tax on their super and he wants to give back the largest multinationals in the world a tax refund. This is crazy, conservative economics.

JOURNALIST:

Treasurer, did you explain to these workers why up to $20 million is going into political coffers to pay for campaigns?

TREASURER:

The fact is that we've had public funding of our electoral system since 1984 in Australia and with that came disclosure of campaign donations, so it's always been a balance between public funding on the one hand and of course disclosure of donations on the other. The bill that goes through the Parliament deals with all of those things and many more reforms, including the banning of foreign donations, it also puts a cap on donations, that's been negotiated. These are important reforms to ensure there is integrity in our political system and yes it does have an element of public funding with it and there has been an element of public funding in our political system since 1984 and it's part and parcel of making sure that our political system is not captured by people with large amounts of money. That's why we have a disclosure system and that's why we have public funding.

JOURNALIST:

Why is it being backdated to April?

TREASURER:

These laws have been, if you like, tied up in the Parliament for almost five years. We have been very serious about wanting to get some reform when it comes to both disclosure and public funding. We finally reached an agreement, and it's appropriate that it applies to the coming election because if people want to see foreign donations come in and impact on the election – [dealing with] that's part and parcel of it. We've got these disclosure provisions and they are very important, it's appropriate that it starts and applies for the election.

JOURNALIST:

Rob Oakeshott says that Labor has broken the agreement with him over these laws (inaudible)?

TREASURER:

We have put in place the best possible outcome that we could get when it comes to disclosure in public funding. It's very important in terms of the integrity and transparency of our political system – that large donations are disclosed, the likes of which would come from people like Mr Palmer, who I understand is offering large amounts of money to candidates who are running under his banner. It's important all of that is freely and openly disclosed in our system and it has been a fact in our system since 1984 that there has been an element of public funding as well.

JOURNALIST:

John Faulkner says he is ashamed over these changes. What's your response to that?

TREASURER:

My response is that I and the Labor Party have always stood for disclosure when it comes to campaign donations, an element of public funding in the system, so we'd make the system work, so it's not captured by big money running around our country buying the outcome of elections. So that's the position I've got, that's the position the Labor Party's got.

JOURNALIST:

Did you sledge John Faulkner in caucus yesterday?

TREASURER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Can you explain what taxpayers' money in this campaign money will actually be spent on, is it a mixture of administrative costs?

TREASURER:

Taxpayers have in the past always supported political parties in a variety of means. These are matters which are better handled by the Attorney-General, but there has always been under both political parties, a degree of support for political parties in our system in a variety of different ways.

JOURNALIST:

Front page of the papers today talk about Kevin Rudd forces agitating again (inaudible)

TREASURER:

I don't accept the sort of language that has been used, the report in the paper today is rubbish. I don't pay any attention to that sort of rubbish and I don't think you should repeat that sort of rubbish to be frank.

JOURNALIST:

In regards to the $2 billion rail-link between Paramatta and Epping – why has that been shelved?

TREASURER:

It hasn't been shelved. As I understand it, the New South Wales Government hasn't come to the party so it's been delayed and it's gone into a later program.