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‘For God’s sake, leave super alone!’: Bill Kelty

James Mitchell
— 1 minute read

One of the architects of the Australian superannuation system has slammed the Morrison government’s inquiry and urged them to stop meddling with the retirement savings of working Australians.

Speaking on a panel at the inaugural Crescent Think Tank in Sydney on Thursday, Australian trade unionist, Labor party member and former RBA board member Bill Kelty noted that “not one word was said in the last election about moving super to 12 per cent.”

“Not a single word from any candidate anywhere in the country, to the best of my knowledge. The election is over and suddenly people have an inquiry, which has only one objective you would think. To push it out,” he said. 

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“No wonder people lose trust in politicians and government. They got told by nobody that this was on the agenda. Just meet your commitments. Do what you told people you would do. Implement the 12 per cent. Keep your promise.”

Mr Kelty argued that the best thing to do about superannuation is to leave it alone. 

“Stop all the changes in super,” he said. “Stop all this nonsense. Stop threatening it all the time. Leave it as it is. For God’s sake, leave it alone so that the next generation can get confidence again in the system. Leave the superannuation retirement system alone. People are sick and tired of government coming in and reviewing it and making decisions about it.”

Under the Keating Labor government, Mr Kelty was one of the key architects behind the introduction of Australia’s superannuation system in 1992. Keating and Kelty had originally intended for superannuation guarantee contributions to be 12 per cent. 

The super guarantee percentage has been 9.5 per cent since 2014. According to the ATO, it will increase by 50 basis points annually from 2021 until it reaches 12 per cent in 2027. 

But some believe 12 per cent is still not enough. Mr Kelty shared the panel at Thursday’s event with former Liberal Party leader John Hewson, who noted that much has changed since super was first introduced in the early nineties. 

“People are living much longer and the nature of the wage-superannuation mix has changed,” he explained. Governments have played a lot of policy games with super and it has become very complicated. In those terms I think that it is reasonable to question whether 12 per cent will meet the objectives. Fifteen per cent is probably a reasonable number maybe more.”

However, when it comes to proactive solutions from government, Mr Hewson attacked the Morrison’s government for “dumbing down” the complexity of the issue. 

“This government specialises in slogans,” Mr Hewson said. “Ask Morrison a question and he’ll give you a slogan. Don’t ask him for any detail behind the slogan, because there won’t be any. In that environment you won’t get a rational debate about super.”

 

‘For God’s sake, leave super alone!’: Bill Kelty
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