Labor doesn’t expect much to come of the Review of the Retirement Income System, arguing it is compromised by internal Coalition politics and an appointment to the review panel.
Labor backbencher Ed Husic told Sky News: “I don’t think a Josh Frydenberg initiated review is going to come to much, and here’s why, because Josh has his eyes on an internal party prize rather than do the right thing on policy.”
Husic pointed to the failure of the National Energy Guarantee when Frydenberg was Minister for the Environment and Energy.
Husic said the review into retirement incomes “may be one of the best reviews, it could be evidence-based, it could be well thought through… this could be the best review ever and then it may not get anywhere in the Coalition party room and it goes to waste.”
Labor has also been critical of the appointment of Professor Deborah Ralston to the three-person review panel.
“If you have a stone chucker on that review in the form of Deb[orah] Ralston, that goes to show you how serious this review is. From my point of view, that person should either recuse themselves from the review, or the Coalition should take that person off the review, and if not, and they keep Deb Ralston on, then I don’t believe that this is a review worthy of serious consideration,” Husic said.
“When it comes to protecting the incomes of older Australians, the Coalition always opts for those that are already on a good wicket, they’re not really caring much about pensioners or people who are doing it tough in terms of having low superannuation balances.”
“I just sincerely doubt that this will be a fair dinkum review, and Josh’s track record will show that to be the case.”
Ralston was spokesperson for the Alliance for a Fairer Retirement System, which campaigned against Labor’s franking credit policy. Ralston also signed the letter to Treasurer Frydenberg in July which included recommendations of topics to be considered by the Review of the Retirement Income System. These topics included making super voluntary and if the Super Guarantee rate should increase to 12% – which has caused concern in some sectors given recent calls for similar policy changes from Coalition backbenchers.
Professor Ralston has resigned as Chair of the SMSF Association, and as a director of the organisation, following her appointment to the review panel.
Labor Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers has previously said the Government has “compromised” the Review of the Retirement Income System, and was playing “partisan games”, with the appointment of someone who has been so publicly critical of Labor policy to the review panel.
“They knew when they appointed Professor Ralston that it would be hard for Labor to sign up to conclusions reached by the panel when she has been such a prominent, well-known and dedicated campaigner against the Labor Party. The Government knew that when they appointed her.”
Professor Ralston has been contacted for comment.