Wong defends Labor's super record

AAP, with a staff reporter

Finance Minister Penny Wong won't be drawn into "gossip" about whether the federal government plans to adjust the superannuation system in the May budget.

The opposition continues to press the government to reveal what changes it intends to make to super, with rumours it might possibly cut back on tax concessions for the rich.

Sacked Labor minister Simon Crean has said the government should not raise taxes just to fund a return to a budget surplus.

Senator Wong was not forthcoming when asked about speculation the government was planning a raid on super to finance costly promises such as the Gonski school funding changes and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

"I don't get into hypotheticals," she told Sky News.

"I certainly don't get into gossip and what might or might not have been discussed in a cabinet committee."

Senator Wong said the Gillard government was continuing the Labor legacy of the Hawke-Keating era on superannuation by ensuring there was wealth, opportunity and fairness for all.

Increasing superannuation guarantees from nine to 12 per cent and giving low-income workers a tax break on their super showed the government had a proud track record on this issue, she said.

Earlier, The Australian Financial Review reported that the Labor government intends to go ahead with its May budget plans to increase the tax revenues generated from superannuation funds and will defend the move as critical to sustaining the tax revenue base as the Australian population ages, according to The Australian Financial Review.

The government's stance received the backing of AustralianSuper fund chief executive Ian Silk, who said that the string of tax breaks that have fuelled superannuation savings for decades are unsustainable and need to be scaled back.

“It is inevitable we won't be able to maintain the current tax settings on super,” he told the AFR.

“This is not about arguing for more taxes but a recognition that the current settings pose a huge problem for any government.”

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson said several months ago that tax concessions for superannuation would become increasingly unsustainable as Australia's population ages and its tax base narrows, which has formed the basis for the Labor government's stance.

“With the Commonwealth budget coming under increasing pressure over the next few decades, the fiscal sustainability of all policies, including superannuation, will demand greater public scrutiny,” Mr Parkinson said.

At the current pace of growth, the federal government would forego $44.8 billion in tax revenues related to super concessions in 2015-16, up from $31.8 billion in 2012-13, the AFR added.

Earlier this week, Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten said the debate over superannuation should be “above politics”.

Liberal MP Jamie Briggs said Labor was booking up expenditure against revenue sources which did not exist.

"All we have seen is deficits and debt over the last five-and-a-half years from this Labor party," he told Sky News.

Labor MP Richard Marles said it was Labor that set up the superannuation regime and the current government was increasing employer payments from nine to 12 per cent for some workers.

"If Jamie's mob ever got the reins of power, there is no guarantee there would be a superannuation guarantee under an Abbott government," Mr Marles told Sky news.

"We have made it very clear there won't be any taxes on superannuation withdrawals."

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he feared the government would try to keep within its $300 billion debt ceiling by dipping into the savings of ordinary Australian households.

"The prime minister will try and buy her future by raiding your superannuation savings," he told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Abbott said last week's comments by former Labor ministers Martin Ferguson and Simon Crean showed the government planned to tinker with super arrangements in the upcoming budget.

Labor should be trying to bring people together, not engaging in the "politics of envy" when it came to looking at tax breaks for Australia's richest self-funded retirees, he said.

The super savings of Australians would be secure under any future Abbott-led coalition government, he added.

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Will the Finance Minister also remove tax concessions on "super" for the political class to the same degree and at same levels as planned for the rest of us?
The problem with Wong is that she lives in a state of hypotheticals along with Swan. Neither are educated for their roles and both find it difficult to understand basic economics. The economy is nose diving into an abyss and if the Labor Green coalition is allowed will cause further damage before the election. Our only hope is that the independents wake up and force an election now.
Doesn't this have echos of the Cyprus wealth confiscatation. I just cannot wait for the pollies to give the justification that this is a "unique and once off event". Beware this is just a template for further financial engineering to get the deficit down. Why stop at super when there is a bigger bucket called depositor money in the bank. We don't even need an EU trioka to tell us how to do it!
Doesn't this have echos of the Cyprus wealth confiscatation. I just cannot wait for the pollies to give the justification that this is a "unique and once off event". Beware this is just a template for further financial engineering to get the deficit down. Why stop at super when there is a bigger bucket called depositor money in the bank. We don't even need an EU trioka to tell us how to do it!
What is happening in Europe and more recently in Cyprus is child's play compared to what this Government will do. They will stoop to the lowest in order to destroy the hard savings of every individual in this country. On the one hand they force employers to increase the contribution on superannuation and on the other take it away as a tax. It is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth and by doing so is in fact stealing. You can guarantee though that the retirement benefits of the public sector will be protected along with politicians. The intellectual socialist Greens like Brandt and Rhianon have been very successful in pushing their ideology via an inept and desperate Labor party.
Penny Wong is a hypocrit.From her own mouth "fairness for all". What a saving the country will make by getting the pollies noses out of the trough.
I trust the "changes" will affect all those politicians who will be retiring at the election perhaps they should wait till they reach 65.before getting their taxpayer funded benefits.That would be fair wouldn't..Consistency and principle it will be interesting to observe. It is time that the press illustrated the effects on the the political elite.What chance do we have from say Business Spectator ? Any views
Just vote them out - no need to say any more!
Need to do more than just vote out. Need a Parliamentary Public Interest Advocate with powers to address broke aspects of our "Parliamentary Democracy." We vote another mob in and there will be the same politics of personal attack, not answering questions, not publishing plans.