Tue, 03 Oct 2023 - 16:01



Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts

Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy

Manager of Opposition Business in the House




3 OCTOBER 2023

KIERAN GILBERT: In the meantime, let's return now to our top story. The Reserve Bank has kept rates on hold . And joining me is the Shadow government services minister, the manager of opposition business, Paul Fletcher. Paul Fletcher, thanks for your time. The Treasurer says this is a welcome reprieve, save for those already doing it tough with the RBA decision to keep rates on hold. Do you welcome the call?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, of course it's better than the alternative, but let's bear in mind there have been 11 interest rate increases under this government.Mr. Albanese promised that Australians would be having cheaper mortgages, but instead on a typical mortgage, a family can now be paying more than $20,000 a year more than they were when this government came to power. And that's on top of a cost of living crisis with energy prices going up with inflation in what we're buying in the supermarket So understandably, Australians are feeling the pain at the moment and they want to see a government that's got a plan to deal with that.

KIERAN GILBERT:Inflation does look sticky. Do you fear there is another rise, if not two, before the end of the year?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, we saw last week inflation at 5.2%, that's a long way above the RBA's target range of 2 to 3%, and so while making predictions about interest rates is a very dangerous game, it is noticeable that a range of economists seem to be saying that it's not possible to give an assurance that we won't see further increases. So Australians are really facing considerable cost of living pressures and certainly for those Australians who are paying mortgage interest rates at the moment, they've seen steady increases for more than a year and they will understandably be very anxious about what the future might hold

KIERAN GILBERT: On to another matter, the superannuation tax changes. The Treasurer has said to the Coalition either back these modest changes or come up with billions of dollars of savings to make up for your opposition to them. Will the Opposition come up with savings to match those made by the change in the superannuation tax treatment?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, to start with, it's not a saving, it's an increased tax. And what the Coalition says to the Treasurer is keep your promises. You told the Australian people several times before the last election, as did the now Prime Minister, that there would be no change to the arrangements for the taxation of superannuation This is a clear broken promise. What we're now seeing is that tax on superannuation balances above a certain threshold will now be 30%, not 15%, it's a clear broken promise and it's proof that once again Labor always looks to increase taxes. It's in their DNA. There are high taxing party and we're seeing them up to their old games again with what they're doing with this superannuation tax.

KIERAN GILBERT: What about the challenge he's laid at the feet of the Coalition saying you need to find a commensurate amount of budget improvements if you're going to oppose the changes?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, again, Mr. Chalmers is the Treasurer. It's his job to manage these matters and it's not unreasonable that the Coalition and indeed the Australian people should expect him to keep the promises that he made to the Australian people that there would be no change to the superannuation tax arrangements. Mr. Chalmers is going around saying that only a small percentage of Australians will be affected, but he hasn't indexed the threshold. So what that means is we know superannuation is a long term savings vehicle. We know it's compulsory to put your money into it by law. And what that means is that somebody on average wages today at the start of their career is going to be hit by this tax. So the claims that Mr. Chalmers is making about the limited impact of it are at odds with the facts. And fundamentally, this is another broken promise by Mr. Chalmers and Mr. Albanese.

KIERAN GILBERT: The amount of people with a balance in their super over $50 million went from 78 to over 100. Those with over $100 million went from 17 to 28 over a couple of years. Those cohorts getting a bit bigger. Is it really what superannuation was designed for, those massive balances?

PAUL FLETCHER: when you look at the threshold that Mr. Chalmers is talking about, it's a very long way away from those very big numbers that you've cited and that he's been eager to cite. And the fact is that because there is no indexation in what is proposed and of course also because for the first time we're going to be seeing the taxation of unrealised capital gains, that this measure will have a much wider effect than Mr. Chalmers is trying to pretend. If you're a small business person or if you're a farmer and you have put your farm or your small business premises into your self-managed super fund, a perfectly legitimate and lawful thing to do, and something many people have done based on advice and based on the way the law has stood for many years and based indeed on the promises that Mr. Albanese and Mr. Chalmers made that there would be no changes, you now face the prospect that when your asset is revalued in your superannuation fund, you can now have to pay tax on it each year, even if the capital gain has not been realised to tax unrealised. To tax unrealised capital gains is a virtually unprecedented development in Australian taxation policy and it's a sign of just how desperate Mr. Albanese and Mr. Chalmers are to hoover up as much of Australians earnings as possible. Now the Liberal Party believes that as much as possible, the money you earn should stay in your pocket. We will always be a lower taxing party than the Labor Party and this is just another piece of proof of that proposition

KIERAN GILBERT: Before you go. The voice referendum on Saturday week, what's the view towards the voice and the proposed voice to Parliament in your electorate?

PAUL FLETCHER: Well, certainly in the electorate of Bradfield there is overwhelming goodwill towards Aboriginal Australians and a wide acceptance of the fact that there has been systematic disadvantage, There's very wide support for constitutional recognition, but when people want to know what the details are of how the voice will work, how many people will be on it, will they be appointed? Will they be elected? What will be the range of matters on which the voice is able to make representations? What will be the consequences for a decision by a minister or indeed by a public servant if it's found there hasn't been adequate consultation with the voice. People are finding it hard to get the answers to those questions. So I detect amongst my constituents enormous goodwill towards Aboriginal Australians, but a lack of clarity. They're finding it difficult to understand exactly how the voice is going to operate. So those I think are going to be the factors that will be playing on the minds, certainly of my constituents as they determine how they're going to vote. Ultimately this will be a choice for the Australian people and I think that we should be glad that we live in a democracy where these are choices that people are able to make.

KIERAN GILBERT:  Paul Fletcher, appreciate your time. We'll talk to you soon.

PAUL FLETCHER: Thanks Kieran.