Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 3505..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
a partial exception, and most have employer contributions at nine per cent. Consequently, the proposal for new members appears quite reasonable.
The second part deals with continuing members. These members will be grandfathered from the changes presented in this bill. Continuing members will maintain an employer contribution of 24 per cent, plus voluntary contributions if they choose. The change for continuing members will be that they will have a choice if they remain in the Assembly after the 2008 election: they can elect to remain in the defined benefit scheme or they can elect to have a fund of their choice and their existing entitlement would be rolled over into the fund of their choice.
It is also self-evident that the financial impact of the proposal in this bill will mean a reduced call on the ACT taxpayer. The opposition will be supporting the bill.
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.57): The Greens will not be opposing the bill but I suppose our support is a little qualified. There are some big questions behind the issues of superannuation. Current tax law greatly advantages people with superannuation against those without. So when you follow it through in detail, this averages out as advantaging richer people.
People with little or no superannuation and significantly less tax advantage seem to be blue-collar workers, poor people, people who have not had much employment in their lives, women rather than men and so on. If Australia wanted to take big steps in terms of equity and income support, it would increase pensions and universal services, rather than ensuring that superannuants receive their income tax free, no matter how high those income levels are.
However, the shift towards a universal approach to retirement income accrual is a way of planning for the future. If the safety net or support was also strengthened, and if superannuants on very high income levels did return some of that income to the community generally, that incremental growth in superannuation contribution by employers and employees alike would be a good thing.
More to the point, without a major commitment to improving social services, increasing supplies of public housing and so on, it does not make any sense to reduce superannuation in any situation. Of course, just before an election is not the time for any political party to go out championing more money for politicians. Here, of course, we are talking about a reduction in superannuation. But even to oppose that reduction would almost certainly open the door to the usual unreasonable invective directed at politicians for passing laws that are seen to be self-serving. The big issue that I have really stems from the 2006 decision to slash superannuation paid to territory employees which provides—
At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put and negatived.
Sitting suspended from 6.00 to 7.30 pm.