Labor wants to amend Super Guarantee amnesty

Labor plans to try to amend the Government’s Superannuation Guarantee Bill, potentially with the aim of removing the measure entirely.

Last week the Government introduced legislation which would create a 12 month Super Guarantee amnesty for employers.

“The Prime Minister had absolutely no idea of these moves when asked about it by the Leader of the Opposition in Question Time today,” said Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, after Labor took aim at the proposal.

The first question in Question Time on Tuesday was from Opposition Leader Bill Shorten: “My question is to the Prime Minister. Can the Prime Minister please explain to the Australian people why it is government policy to forgive businesses who have illegally failed to pay their employees superannuation for over 25 years by waiving all penalties and rewarding them with tax deductions?”

But the Prime Minister’s question didn’t go to the question – leading to the second Opposition question, from Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen: “My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer the Prime Minister to his own government’s legislation currently before the parliament. Is the Prime Minister even aware that it is now government policy to reward dodgy businesses who have robbed workers by failing to pay their superannuation for more than 25 years—by not only waiving all penalties for the businesses but also giving them a tax deduction?”

The question was answered by Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer: “It is very clear that the government is not letting anybody off the hook from paying the superannuation guarantee entitlements that they ought to pay—far from it.”

“This government has put in place a mechanism to allow small- and medium-sized businesses — who otherwise have not paid superannuation guarantee entitlements, to come forward under an amnesty and make good every single dollar that they owe their workers. Why? Why are we doing this? We are doing this because we actually care about the superannuation entitlements of every single worker.”

Minister O’Dwyer then criticised Bill Shorten for uncapping fees on low balance super accounts – the repeal of the Member Protection rules, which was a recommendation of the Super System Review. The Government announced in the 2018 Budget a policy of capping the fees on low super balances.

This criticism was followed up in a later question to the Prime Minister.

“The reality is, in 2013, as part of the so-called MySuper reforms, the Labor government repealed the members protection standards, and those standards protected accounts…” said the PM.

“From 1 July next year, under our plan, members with balances below $6,000 will not be charged administration and investment fees greater than three per cent of their balance. And that is the coalition giving members with low balances protection that the Labor Party had stripped away.”

In a statement Chris Bowen said the Labor caucus had decided on Tuesday to try and amend the Government’s Bill “so that dodgy bosses don’t get away with ripping off their workers”. The Bill also includes changes to Super Guarantee for high-income employees, along with changes to LRBAs and to NALI.

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