At the Bloomberg Address today, Treasurer Scott Morrison was asked about his previous statement about not changing the superannuation rules and his definition of retrospectivity. His unequivocal reply leaves little hope for those expecting a retreat.
“I stand by everything I said in that statement for the simple reason that the retirement phase remains tax-free. You know that. The retirement phase account, which under our proposal with a transfer balance cap, will mean that 99% of people who have balances less than $1.6 million will remain absolutely in exactly the same situation that I referred to.
The changes that we put forward, which I hope at least from my point of view as Treasurer I never have to revisit, and I certainly have no intention of revisiting them, will ensure that those rules are now set for the future.
Why did we have to change the superannuation system? Because we have an aging population and we have system that is frankly overly generous for large balances, and the cost of having those large balances and the tax concessions … which have only been there since 2007, by the way, they weren’t introduced by Henry Parkes or anyone else like that [Editor’s note: Parkes served five terms as Premier of New South Wales between 1872 and 1891]. Those arrangements were brought in when the Budget had a $20 billion surplus and $40 billion in cash.
What we have chosen to do is make the superannuation system more sustainable in future. We have targeted a higher rate of tax, true, at the whopping rate of 15% for earnings on balances above $1.6 million. That enables us to preserve the exact situation that I was speaking in favour of at the SMSF Conference. We allow 99% of people who have saved for their retirement to have the deal that I said they should have, that is, paying no tax on what they have contributed to superannuation over their lifetime.
I know there are those with balances more than $1.6 million who are unhappy about that. I know there are less than 100,000 people in the country who have already put more than $500,000 into super after their pre-tax contributions [Editor’s note: he probably means in after-tax contributions]. I know there are those on very high incomes who will be paying more on their contributions going into superannuation now than before.
The alternative to that is for me to tell my kids, ‘You’re going to have to pay higher taxes to support those concessions.’ I don’t think that’s fair and I’m not going to do it.”