IPA Today

Anthony Albanese Must Come Clean On His Pension Entitlements If He Wants To Prove We All Get A ‘Fair Go’ In Retirement

Written by
24 February 2023
Originally appeared in Sky News Australia

If our analysis about how the Prime Minister could be eligible for a pension in excess of $400,000 per year for the rest of his life is so wrong, he should prove it

The “fair go” has been a favourite go-to phrase of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese since he was elected to federal parliament in 1996.

The phrase’s egalitarian notion has been synonymous with the Australian way of life.

But with news coming out of Canberra that widespread changes are set to be made to the superannuation arrangements of Australians, you have to wonder if the PM has forgotten what a fair go is at all.

Unwittingly this week, Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones let the cat out of the bag on potential changes to Australia’s $3.3 trillion superannuation system that will increase taxes and make it harder to access your money, despite a commitment at the last election to leave super alone.

Superannuation debate is ‘raging’ at the moment

First among the changes could be a so-called crackdown on tax concessions for superannuation balances over $3 million, which according to the Federal Government will make the system more “sustainable”.

The proposed changes are likely to be retrospective and could affect Australians that have been doing the right thing and following the rules for over 30 years.

It is no wonder that many Australians are asking themselves today, how it can be fair when you have saved your money, as the government requires of you, that now when you need it, the government is going to change the rules mid-game and leave you worse off?

They might also have cause to ponder why it is fair when the attitude of your Federal Government, as the Assistant Treasurer describes it, views Australians as “worker bees” that produce superannuation “honey” that can ‘be spread around’ on pet political projects?

These proposed changes sprung on Australians are even more galling considering that the Prime Minister is in line to receive a lucrative annual pension the moment he leaves Parliament.

The Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme provides generous pensions to politicians elected before 2004.

Institute of Public Affairs analysis of the scheme’s regulatory framework shows Albanese could be eligible for a pension in excess of $400,000 per year for the rest of his life.

This pension is of course funded by the taxpayer, is indexed each year and never runs out.

Despite the Prime Minister’s attempt to dispute the analysis, he refused on several occasions to be transparent with Australians about the generous pension payable to politicians who are set to change the rules for the rest of us.

If the analysis is so wrong, Albanese should have no problem telling us exactly what he is entitled to.

The silence was deafening.

If the analysis is wrong then the Prime Minister should have the courage of his convictions and tell us what he is entitled to.

Imagine how upset these former MPs would be if their annual pension was deemed to be too high and too expensive for the taxpayer to fund, and it was cut after they explicitly received assurances that it would not be.

There is no fair go in a two-tier superannuation system and Australians are sick and tired of the political elite creating one set of rules for themselves and another for the rest of us.

It is the height of hypocrisy that the Prime Minister and his government expect Australians, through their super, to “spread around” their hard-earned retirement income for his ideological goals, knowing full well that he and a number of his colleagues are set for life.

Everyday Australians who have been playing by the rules for over 30 years and paying in their money to superannuation, now know they have a government that has little regard for their savings.

These are exactly what provide us with the ability to have a “fair go” and enjoy the benefits that come with the Australian way of life.

It is all too often forgotten by the political class that superannuation is not the government’s money or union super funds’ money, it is the hard-earned money of Australian workers who should be in charge of their future and able to access their savings without ever increasing taxation.

If the PM truly believes in Australians having a “fair go” he needs to come clean on the pension that taxpayers provide him and what his plans are for our retirement savings.

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Saxon Davidson

Saxon Davidson is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs.

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