Michael Pascoe writes:

Cossie dogged the best superannuation
reform because, he says, it was too complicated. But why did the Labor Party
dog it three years ago?

The then shadow treasurer, Bob McMullan,
was all set to raise the possibility of scrapping the super contribution tax
when he addressed the National Press Club after the 2003 Budget. I am reliably
informed it was in McMullan’s prepared speech.

But then Simon Crean censored it. A red
line was put through any talk of repealing the super contributions tax – the
thing Paul Keating had most unfortunately introduced. Why Crean scratched it is
a mystery. It would have been a good policy.

Meanwhile, the boss of a major industry
superannuation fund tells me the workers retiring in the next few years won’t
benefit much from Cossie’s big boomer bribe. The amounts the working class have
coming to them from compulsory super aren’t big enough to attract much tax
anyway if they’re distributed in pension form. It’s a great thing for relatively
wealthy retirees, but is more style than substance for the hoi polloi.

Which reform was the Association of
Superannuation Funds of Australia lobbying for? Policy director Dr Michaela
Anderson said on Sunrise yesterday they wanted the contribution tax scrapped, not super
payouts and lump sums made tax free. The association seems to be putting the
best face on the unexpected reform though, giving a tick to the simplification and to the
improved interaction between taxation and social security.

Peter Fray

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