Government fails to advance its superannuation legislation in 2018

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The Government has failed to substantially advance its superannuation legislation in 2018, potentially creating issues with the start dates for measures.

With Parliament now adjourned for 2018, the Government’s superannuation agenda is largely where it started the year – stalled before the Senate.

The Government did pass some superannuation-related legislation – it changed the rules around terminal medical conditions, created the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, and moved ASIC to a fee-for-service model. But the core superannuation Bills are still stalled.

The Government almost passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Bill 2018, which includes potential jail sentences for employers who don’t pay their Super Guarantee entitlements, and expanding Single Touch Payroll to all employers, amongst other measures. However the Bill was amended in the Senate (relating to deductible gift recipients) and the House didn’t vote on these, government, amendments. So the Bill remains before the Parliament.

Other superannuation Bills before the Parliament are:

Some of the Bills were debated in June 2018, but others haven’t been debated since 2017. The Superannuation (Objective) Bill was last debated in November 2016.

The Protecting Your Superannuation Bill was announced in the 2018/19 Budget, but several others are from the 2016/17 Budget. With the 2019/20 Budget brought forward to April 2 2019 it is likely the next Budget will be released before these Bills are passed.

These Bills were often initially scheduled for debate, but weren’t accorded enough priority to reach a vote – likely because the Government lacked enough support to pass them through the Senate. Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert had said the Government would amend some of the Bills, but these amendments haven’t been published – though they were reportedly circulated to the crossbench.

Failing to pass this legislation is not simply a matter of moving the agenda forward, but could create substantial issues in 2019. This is compounded by the small number of sitting days ahead of an election in the first half of the year.

Some of the measures in the Bills start on 1 July 2019, though arguably the most time sensitive is the proposed 12 month amnesty for employers who haven’t paid Super Guarantee. As drafted the amnesty would run from 24 May 2018 to 24 May 2019, if the Bill passes. There are only three Senate sitting days in February 2019, followed by more in April – though time for the amnesty Bill may be tight with the Budget on April 2, the need to pass supply Bills and the likely calling of a May election.

There would be even less time to pass any of these Bills if the Government went to an election earlier than May.

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