In a 2013 election pitch Tony Abbott promised there will be no ”negative unexpected changes” to the superannuation system. His government’s plan to pause the rise in superannuation contributions at 9.5 per cent until 2021 joins a very long list of broken promises.
Many may have been surprised at his back-flip on something as sacrosanct as superannuation. Long-term observers, however, were not.
What we have learned about Tony Abbott is that whenever he makes an announcement about any issue – anything – there is a wealth of contradictions from the same mouth that we can easily source. It’s a pity that not too many people search for them. The biggest culprits, of course, are alleged journalists from our mainstream media or those gullible enough to believe what they or Tony Abbott have to say.
Which brings me back to Tony Abbott and superannuation. What we keep hearing today, or yesterday, or last year, is at odds with what he mutters when not under the public spotlight.
It only seemed like yesterday that as Leader of the Opposition – and as defender of the affluent – Tony Abbott was enraged over the then Treasurer Wayne Swan’s announcement that super pension and annuity earnings greater than $100,000 would be taxed at 15 per cent, instead of being tax free (a move that would affect an estimated 16,000 people). Striding up to the nearest microphone he promised he:
. . . would “fight ferociously” changes that would play havoc with people’s retirement plans.
That would have been admirable, of course, if it weren’t for this:
Mr Abbott repeatedly refused to guarantee to wind back the government’s proposed changes, saying only that the Coalition would not make matters worse.
”We aren’t going to do any more damage,” he said.
That comment certainly made his threat to fight ferociously appear rather shallow.
Nonetheless, his opposition to the move had been most vociferous. You may recall seeing it headlined – nay, bashed to death – in the Murdoch media. Here’s an example:
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has taken his “hands-off superannuation” message directly to those most worried by reported government changes – older Australians.
He rammed home the message to retirees on Sydney’s northern beaches on Tuesday that superannuation “piggy banks” were not government money but people’s money.
Raiding their piggy banks to fund the government’s “out-of-control” spending was a breach of faith and a betrayal of trust, he told the grey heads at the Dee Why RSL club.
He continued his attack via the LNP website:
The Prime Minister should end the class war and the latest escalation on the class war is the Prime Minister and the Treasurer’s coming attack on your superannuation. I want to say to the Australian people – your superannuation is safe under the Coalition. Your superannuation should be sacrosanct. There is no way that your superannuation should be raided by a bad government to get itself out of a hole. The Government should not be damaging your future to secure its future. The Government should not be raiding your money to get money for itself. It is a sign of just how debauched this Government has got that when it is in a hole, a hole of its own making, it should be seeking to trash your superannuation – trash, in fact, Labor’s historic legacy – to try to fix up a problem which it has caused.
But to Mr Abbott it was more than just a fiddle with people’s retirement plans – of which he was the now self-appointed defender – it was also a cash-grab from the Government:
“On balance, this is a $1 billion hit on people’s retirement savings,” he told the media in Melbourne.
“It is a $1 billion hit on savings that belong to the people, not the Government, and it shows that this is a government which is prepared to tax the people to fund its own spending.”
And it would only get worse, he warned:
If they get away with attacking the so-called rich today, they’re going to come for you tomorrow. That’s the truth about this government. If they get away with this, they’ll think they can get away with anything.
The man must have been an emotional wreck; all that caring, all those concerns. Well, yes, he certainly had put on a sad face. He bled for those poor people raking in over $100,000 a year. The whole 16,000 of them.
Now let’s have a look at what Tony Abbott really thinks about superannuation, especially the superannuation of the battler.
It’s a con job, he once said, while elsewhere savaging it as nothing but a gravy train for union officials. He even opposed an increase in the Super Guarantee – changes that would have seen 8.4 million Australians receive an increase in their retirement incomes. In effect, he opposed:
- An additional $108,000 in the retirement income of a 30-year-old on average weekly earnings.
- An additional $78,000 in superannuation for a women aged 30 on average weekly earnings, who had had an interrupted work pattern.
- Australians who were over 50 and have low super balances, the opportunity to contribute up to $50,000 a year into superannuation at a concessional tax rate.
That ‘policy’ of Abbott’s confirmed his apathy towards superannuation. Here it was in a nutshell:
Opposition leader Tony Abbott confirmed plans to axe a super tax break worth up to $500 a year for 3.6 million low-income earners.
. . . his plan to axe the $500 superannuation benefit for low-income workers will hit more than two million women, including 11,000 female voters in Tony Abbott’s own electorate.
It’s safe to say that in total, more people in his electorate would have been effected by this measure than the number of people effected Australia wide by the previous government’s plan. In total, it would have tightened the financial thumbscrews on 3.6 million Australians.
Now he has tightened the screws on everyone.
To me, this latest move to pause the rise in superannuation contributions is not a nasty surprise. It’s just nasty. Not surprising.
Tony Abbott could never be trusted with your super. He’s been telling us that for years.
Superannuation is just another issue on which he was willing to say anything to the contrary to anybody in order to become prime minister. Follow the trail of deception and it will lead you straight to Tony Abbott.