Treasurer Scott Morrison has made his position on retirees and the age pension clear in one of his biggest speeches on the topic yet, and it’s clear he’s not backing down.
On Friday, Mr Morrison addressed the Association of Superannuation Funds Of Australia (ASFA) Conference in Brisbane and started by saying “it’s important for us to have a conversation about superannuation and about the principles that will guide further policy”.
He spoke of the past, present and future of super reform and what it was meant to achieve along the way since its beginnings in the Keating era.
Mr Morrison said there were three reasons for super in the first place: to supplement or replace the age pension, to curb the rising cost of the Age Pension, and to improve the national savings pool.
The Treasurer remarked that only the third objective had been achieved and, “in relation to the first two objectives – these can now be merged by stating our objective on enabling Australians to achieve a better standard of living and independence in their retirement”.
He went on to speak at length about superannuation in the future and wanting to give people more independence in their retirement.
“We want as many Australians as possible to actively plan and save for their retirement, to harness the benefits that the superannuation system offers, and to work towards a self-funded retirement”, Mr Morrison said.
Tax reform on superannuation was another key issue in the Treasurer’s speech, and he enthused that “it is not my money, nor the Government’s money. It is your money”, then reiterated that super needs to “substitute or supplement the Age Pension”.
“The age pension continues to provide an important safety net for Australians who do not have the ability to provide for their retirement futures”.
Mr Morrison admitted the struggle the government has with people who do rely on the pension: “we might want to reduce reliance on the age pension but, on the other, this comes at a cost to Government”.
“Let me make one thing very clear though: while superannuation should ensure adequate retirement incomes, it should not be seen as an open-ended savings vehicle for wealthy Australians to accumulate large balances in a tax-preferred environment, well in excess of what is required for an adequate retirement.
“It is not an estate planning vehicle nor was it ever intended to be”.
He said it is vital for Australians approaching and enjoying their retirement, as “retirees have saved for their retirement under the existing rules across their working lives”, and “the Government acknowledges these efforts and sacrifices”.
“Because until tax concessions and the superannuation system are perceived to strike the right balance, there’ll continue to be calls for tinkering and more changes”.
Tell us, do you think Scott Morrison is right? Or should there be more consideration for the over 65s who didn’t have a chance to save for retirement?