While Kim’s off dancing with Aussie value phantoms (“you shouldn’t have to pay more than $30 for a slab”), it looks like the political trap set by Peter Costello in the last budget is already working a treat – all sorts of voters are taking notice of superannuation.

For example, The Courier-Mail this morning: “The shake-up of the superannuation system is proving popular with Australian workers and is a potential vote winner for the Government. A major study by business group Mercer has found most people are aware of the changes designed to raise the level of retirement savings in Australia. And the research showed 49% of people said the super changes could effect their voting intentions.”

Media Watch recently reminded our trade to be suspicious of self-serving surveys (never mind sibilance) and there’s certainly a bit of that in this Mercer effort, but there also should be enough to worry Labor and please Howard. There’s no surprise in oldies taking a close interest in their super hip pocket, but who would have thought more than a third of 18-34 year-olds would rate superannuation as even having a ‘moderate’ impact on how they vote?

Which reinforces the political trap – Cossie’s grinning while taking the exit tax off superannuation and simplifying contributions while Labor dithers with its “three minds” policy. A scare campaign about Labor wanting to reintroduce the tax has to be a sure thing before the next election.

It doesn’t matter that it might also be rational policy. Allowing multi-millionaires annual tax-free income streams well into the six figures makes as much sense as giving them first home-buyer grants. Oh, that’s right, Canberra does that as well – and then fights FOI cases to keep the details secret.

Peter Fray

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