Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has broken party ranks, saying calls to freeze the SG increase are “patronising” and that the government should have provided more stimulus support.
As the super wars heat up and the federal government inches towards freezing the legislated increase, former prime minister Turnbull has weighed in on the debate.
“In my judgement, we would be better off sticking to the legislated increase,” Mr Turnbull said.
“This is a vexed issue, because people say the money would be better off in people’s hands now rather than down the track. I think that’s a bit patronising, to be honest.”
Mr Turnbull noted that he had clamped down on calls from within his party to allow super to be used to pay home deposits during his time as prime minister, and said that its sole purpose should be to fund retirement – calling into question the government’s move to allow early access to superannuation savings.
“These are desperate times and governments have to make decisions very quickly, but I think with the benefit of hindsight that will be seen to have been a poor-quality decision,” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said that understanding the loss of compound interest incurred by withdrawing super wasn’t “rocket science” and said the government should have provided more targeted support.
“(Paul Keating) made this point… that people on lower incomes were raiding their savings to fund current expenditure,” Mr Turnbull said.
“There’s a libertarian argument that says that nobody should be obliged to put money into super, there are plenty of people in the Liberal [Party] that agree with that. I think it’s been a great Australian achievement and chipping away at it is unfortunate.”
Mr Turnbull joins former prime minister Paul Keating in opposing the freeze, despite warnings from a number of economists and RBA governor Philip Lowe that it will hit wage increases.
“The worst thing about all these so-called economists – you can buy the whole lot of them, frankly, for not much – is that they have no emotion, no courage, and no sense of fairness,” Mr Keating said.