This is how the super wars end – not with a bang, but a whimper. Recent media reports indicate that the Morrison government will no longer move ahead with an attempt to cut the SG increase in the face of widespread opposition from the industry and federal Labor.
Throughout COVID-19, members of the Morrison government have quietly pitched a number of alternatives – an optional increase, a temporary freeze, and, more controversially, allowing access to superannuation for a home deposit. That campaign is still being pursued by partisan backbenchers, to little effect.
Of course, nothing ever ends. That news about the Morrison government’s efforts to press ahead with the increase has “leaked” in the same manner as news about their efforts to change how superannuation works hardly means they’ve decided on a course of action.
This is policy by public opinion. If the Morrison government thinks that a cut would be popular with voters, they would move ahead with one. There’s just no evidence that it is popular. And even if it was, they’d be battling federal Labor (which would have no issue with using superannuation as a weapon during the election) and industry funds that have flagrantly pursued an emotive advertising campaign to preserve the increase in the face of the findings of the Retirement Income Review (RIR) – and potentially, the sole purpose test.
And a potentially tougher battle looms. The Your Future, Your Super (YFYS) reforms face heated opposition from all sides of the superannuation industry, with everything from the new best financial interests duty to the investment veto power under heavy fire. The Morrison government now has less than 80 days before YFYS’ tentative start date of 1 July, with no end to the deadlock in sight.
Pressing ahead with a cut at the same time they’re trying to drive through sweeping changes to how superannuation works would likely command more resources than the Morrison government can realistically bring to bear – especially amid a botched vaccine roll-out and the sexual harassment scandals that have rocked Canberra in recent months.