Liberal Senator for Tasmania Eric Abetz says the superannuation changes included in the 2016 Budget represent a slippery slope leading to the Government increasing taxes on more superannuants in the future.
Michelle Grattan, from The Conversation, asked the Senator why he had taken such a strong stand on superannuation, given Tasmania would have fewer people affected by the changes.
Senator Abetz responded: “Can I tell you, in Tasmania, yes it is an issue. Does it affect as many people directly, no. But one of those issues that hasn’t been considered in this total discussion is if these changes are only going to affect 4% of superannuants, and that is how it has been sold, well next time the Government wants some more money, will it move to 5% or 10% of the superannuant population?”
“And that is why it has created uncertainty. And that is why I personally am so concerned about the retrospectivity, because the feedback I got in Tasmania, and from around Australia was, well if you’re willing to target 4%, next time you want a bit more money to redistribute the wealth in the country, why wouldn’t you got for 5, 10 or 20% of the superannuation population?”
Asked if he meant that the superannuation changes were a slippery slope.
“Yes, slippery slope, fundamental principal. And that is why I would hope that the retrospective aspect of these changes, as a minimum…can be grandfathered.”
“The superannuation sector requires certainty, and any hint or whiff that a Government might deal with things retrospectively creates a climate of uncertainty that I think will have ramifications for some time. And that is why, for myself at least, I see the retrospectivity aspect as the most concerning.”
However Senator Abetz refused to say if he would cross the floor over the changes, saying: “As a backbencher, I have crossed the floor in the past, and I assume once or twice in the future I might do so again. Specifically in relation to superannuation, I am not going to say publicly, and try to blackmail the Treasurer and Government into a policy situation on the basis of myself or others threatening to cross the floor. Those sort of discussions should be held behind closed doors.”
Queensland LNP MP George Christensen has threatened to cross the floor over the changes.