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Key appointments hint at Liberal superannuation agenda

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3 minute read

The Liberal Party looks set to revamp the superannuation system if elected to government next year.

While opinions within the Liberal Party on the superannuation system diverge, recent appointments suggest potential significant reforms under a future Coalition government.

Just last week, Andrew Bragg, a vocal advocate for early access to super for housing, was appointed as the Coalition’s shadow assistant minister for housing.

But Bragg’s views on superannuation go beyond early access, with the senator divulging at a recent FSC event that super might be more beneficial if it operates on an opt-out basis.

“I am flexible with my thinking. If someone could come up with a more flexible model, an opt-out model, that might be a reasonable starting point,” Bragg said.

While clarifying that he wouldn’t necessarily advocate for the complete abolition of the superannuation scheme, Bragg expressed uncertainty about the effectiveness of a one-size-fits-all solution for Australia.

“I think there is a strong case to make it voluntary for some people, or you might be able to unpack some more flexibility particularly around housing, or maybe around aged care or other component parts of it,” Bragg said.

He also suggested mirroring the model employed in Singapore, where individuals can utilise specific funds for housing, investment, and education under certain conditions.

At the time, Bragg also slammed the Labor Party for its united front on super.

“Every single person, every member, every senator has the exact same thing to say about super,” he said, adding that the Liberal Party is a “party of individuals”.

The Liberal party also appointed Luke Howarth as shadow assistant treasurer and shadow minister for financial services. Howarth, a key figure in the opposition, also supports the use of super for housing and is reportedly doubtful about the government’s push to embed the principle of preservation into legislation as part of its “objective of super” initiative.

But while the Liberal Party’s proposals may entail potential costs for superannuation funds, since assuming government, Labor has introduced a number of tweaks to the system that some perceive as detrimental to consumers.

Increased taxes on superannuation accounts has, among other things, been perceived as government intervention in Australians’ finances, viewed by some as excessive meddling. Labor’s efforts to embed the objective of superannuation in legislation have also raised concerns about potential future changes to the superannuation system.

Ultimately, the government’s comprehensive package of superannuation reforms raises questions about its pledge to end the “super wars”.

Namely, last year, Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ declared that the government would “try to end the super wars once and for all”, however, it appears that this conflict is far from a resolution and could headline the next election race.