The architect of the Retirement Income Review (RIR) has hit back at critics and accused former prime minister Paul Keating of sowing fear over changes to superannuation.
Speaking to the National Press Club, Treasury veteran Mike Callaghan – who headed up the RIR – said that the “excessive attention” given to superannuation was adversely impacting retirement outcomes and called out critics of the report’s findings.
“(The debate over the RIR) has taken place in an environment where people are confused and uncertain. We have people trading off that fear and uncertainty to try and influence outcomes. There are strong vested interests associated with it, and we don’t have agreement on what the objective is for the component parts (of the retirement system),” Mr Callaghan said.
Mr Callaghan specifically called out former prime minister Paul Keating, who has waged a vicious campaign against a potential superannuation freeze, saying he was taking advantage of people’s fear to “try and promote particular outcomes”. Mr Callaghan also warned that some stakeholders were unconcerned about the trade-off between wages and superannuation, saying that he had taken the issue to at least one fund during the consultation process.
“The reply was: ‘there is no upper limit. Our members will always be better off the higher it is because there is no impact on working life wages. We will be continuing to campaign for higher and higher (super).’ That’s a different view of the way the system operates, and if that’s the view you have then you’re going to have different objectives,” Mr Callaghan said.
Mr Callaghan also called on the government to “lay out what it sees as its plan” for the three pillars of retirement (super, savings, and the pension), including what it ultimately chooses to do with the SG rate, to build greater confidence in the system.