Jane Hume has slammed former prime minister Paul Keating for his comments on early super, calling him “arrogant and elitist” and accusing him of lecturing Australians in dire financial straits.
Just days after Mr Keating savaged arguments that people should be able to withdraw and use their super as they please, assistant minister for superannuation Ms Hume has hit back at the former prime minister.
“It’s your money,” Ms Hume said. “Not government’s. Not the super funds’. And insiders who don’t have to worry about their next pay cheque shouldn’t lecture you for accessing it when you need it most.”
In an interview with The Australian, Ms Hume also said that Mr Keating was “rejected by voters as an arrogant and elitist prime minister” and that leaders should be supporting and reassuring Australians rather than protecting their legacy. Ms Hume has been a vocal proponent of the early release scheme, accusing industry funds of making “a mountain out of a molehill” with concerns about stability and warning that super “is not a sacred cow”.
“When we emerge out the other side of this crisis, the Australian people will remember who stepped up, and who checked out,” Ms Hume said in March. “There is no doubt we will recover, but I think we all know that this country will never be the same again, and every industry in Australia will change after this. Superannuation will not be immune to this change.”
In addition to his comments on the early release scheme and the super guarantee increase, Mr Keating sketched an ideological divide in Australian financial services and warned that the Liberal Party and large financial institutions – protected by a “defensive media apparatus” that included The Australian Financial Review – were seeking to maintain the status quo.
“Some [rank-and-file Liberals] just don’t like unions, and they see industry funds as the [long arm] of the union movement into the capital market,” Mr Keating said. “So if you’re not in a pinstriped suit with a polka dot tie and a Liberal party ticket in your pocket, you shouldn’t be running capital. How dare those unions think they can organise capital?”
Mr Keating also said that industry funds had been forced to look to American equities rather than investing in “sub-economic” companies in Australia.