“We’ve already had a seven-year delay … everybody knows that whenever the Liberal Party talks about “delay” it is their Orwellian code language for kill,” Mr Rudd said.
The government’s wide-ranging retirement income review, led by former Treasury official Mike Callaghan, is poised to hand down its findings on the merits of higher compulsory super – among other policy settings – on July 24, before the October budget.
Mr Rudd said it was worthwhile waiting to see what the review recommended, but said analysis about retirement income adequacy was clear that 9 per cent was not enough.
“That’s why [former prime minister Paul] Keating tried to do 12 per cent originally. It’s not pulled out of the air by some magical feat. It’s based on a calculation about what people … who have been working throughout their life would need for a decent level of retirement,” he said.
Industry Super Australia labelled the MPs “out of touch” for themselves receiving more than 15 per cent super while arguing 9.5 per cent is enough for the average Australian to fund a dignified retirement. The industry superannuation lobby group further said a delay would slash up to $200,000 from the savings of Australian families.
ISA chief executive Bernie Dean accused the MPs of using the coronavirus downturn as “cover” to have the super guarantee levy increase scrapped or frozen.
“The Prime Minister and Treasurer wouldn’t want to risk a generation of Australian workers being dumped on the pension to be their lasting legacy; they know we would all pay for that through higher taxes.”
He said the Coalition used the same argument in 2014 to freeze the super guarantee but wages had mostly flat-lined since then, which underlined “the falseness of their arguments”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said current policy and legislation enabling the gradual increase was “in place” and he was “totally focused” on ensuring the welfare net of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs were best designed to support Australian workers.
“If policies get reviewed at any point in time, well that’s a consideration for that time,” Mr Morrison said on Monday.
“That’s not something that’s occurring at the moment. What we’re doing right now is we are focused on getting people back into jobs and reopening the economy is a critical part of that”.
Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said the renewed calls from within the government’s backbench just weeks before the retirement income review was due was “extremely concerning”.
Dr Chalmers said the COVID-19 crisis should not be an excuse for more attacks on Australia’s world-class super system.
“It’s clearer than ever that Scott Morrison created the retirement income review as a stalking horse for more cuts to super,” Dr Chalmers said.
“More workers will be left behind in their retirement if this Liberal government again delays the long-overdue increase to the superannuation guarantee that they were promised, have earned, and deserve.”
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Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra
Jennifer Duke is an economics correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra.