Doorstop - Canberra

02 May 2016

MONDAY, 2 MAY 2016

SUBJECT/S: Budget 2016; Superannuation measures; John Alexander’s comments on negative gearing

JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION: The Budget tomorrow night will be a grab bag of Abbott-era cuts, agendas written and authorised by the big end of town, and policies copied from the Labor Party. No election eve Budget can make up for the damage that has been done to the family budget over the last two-and-a-half years, or the damage that has been done to our schools and hospitals and Medicare.

If there is one defining feature of this Turnbull Government, it's that it says one thing and does something entirely different. Now, after two-and-a-half years of pain, two-and-a-half years of cuts, two-and-a-half years of attacks on Middle Australia and people on low incomes, we're sixty-one days from an election and the Turnbull Government wants the Australian people to think they've had some conversion and that all of a sudden they care.

This Budget process has been a shambles from Day One. Things have been ruled in then ruled out. The only thing that has been absent from the last couple of months of Budget preparation is the economic leadership that Malcolm Turnbull promised when he knifed Tony Abbott.

Now we read in the papers today that there might be some sort of token relief for ordinary income earners in the superannuation system. This Government has attacked superannuation for people on low and middle incomes for two-and-a-half years, they've frozen the superannuation guarantee, they're abolishing the Low Income Super Contribution, and now sixty-one days from an election, they want people to believe that they care.

After two-and-a-half years of smashing retirement incomes, of doing such serious damage to the retirement aspirations of battlers in our community, they now want people to think, sixty-one days from an election, that they care about their retirement balances. Give me a break.

The Australian people are smarter than that. The Australian people won't fall for this cynical election ploy when it comes to superannuation. The Australian people know that there have been two-and-a-half years of attacks on superannuation for low income earners and they won't all of a sudden be fooled by this, sixty-one days out from an election, this idea to give some token relief to people at the bottom of the superannuation system.

Australians well understand that when it comes to this budget or to this election, they have a very clear choice. The Liberal Party policies are written and authorised by the big end of town. Labor Party policies put people first in the retirement income system, in their schools and their hospitals. 

The very core of this Budget will be a tax cut for the highest income earners in this country and for big business. If Australians think that is the highest priority for a ountry when we're seeing tens of billions of dollars pulled out of schools and hospitals, then they can vote for the Liberal Party. I am confident that the Australian people will choose Labor's plans to put people first over the Liberal Party's agenda which is written and authorised by the big end of town.

JOURNALIST: Jim, isn't it fairer to use money raised by reining in superannuation concessions for higher income earners to top up superannuation for lower income earners to give the payoff to the budget bottom line?

CHALMERS: We've been saying for some time that the damage that is done by the abolition of the Low Income Super Contribution and the freezing of the superannuation guarantee warrants the attention of the Government. For so long now, they have said they want to abolish the LISC and they want to freeze the Super Guarantee. Now 61 days out they want, all of a sudden, for people to believe that they care about it. 

We have said all along -- we have had our policy for tax concessions at the top end out for thirteen months now, which is a big deal for an Opposition to put out such a detailed policy so far out from an election. We have asked the Government to pick up that policy for some time. They've resisted, they've called that plan all kinds of things. Now they look like they want to copy some aspect of it, and they look like they want people to believe they care about low income earners. If they actually cared about low income earners in the superannuation system, they wouldn't have abolished the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, they wouldn't have frozen the Superannuation Guarantee multiple times.

JOURNALIST: What did you make of John Alexander sort of conceding that negative gearing has led to that spike in house prices?

CHALMERS: Well this was John Alexander's Kelly O'Dwyer moment. I mean, twice now we've seen members of the Turnbull Government completely torpedo the scare campaign, the dishonest, unhinged scare campaign that the Prime Minister has been proceeding with. John Alexander can see that negative gearing is an issue that needs to be addressed. It just beggars belief that Malcolm Turnbull thinks that in our Budget circumstances, we should be subsidising people who have nine or ten or eleven investment properties when it's hard for people to get into the property market. John Alexander has belled the cat on the lies told by Malcolm Turnbull when it comes to negative gearing. He's had his Kelly O'Dwyer moment. Twice now, people in his own Party have highlighted that Malcolm Turnbull's scare campaign is nothing more than that.