Stephen Jones - Transcript - Doorstop, Canberra - Wednesday, 24 July 2019


SUBJECTS: Superannuation; national security legislation.
STEPHEN JONES: This morning we read that influential backbencher Craig Kelly is putting out some policy ideas that the Government should allow superannuation fund members to be able to dip into their superannuation fund to buy their own home. This is an idea that's been kicked around many times and has been shown to be not in the interests of fund members. What's more and what's of greater concern is that Mr Kelly is proposing that the family home should be included in the assets test for pensioners. The Prime Minister needs to rule this out immediately. This would amount to a gigantic pensioner retiree tax. The Prime Minister needs to rule this out. He must rule this out. What is quite clear, is that a government without a policy agenda is finding that it's backbenchers are busily trying to fill in the gaps. Whether it's a new proposition for a retiree tax through the personal family home being a part of the pensioner assets test, or whether it's the Minister for Energy freelancing on nuclear power. It's time for Scott Morrison to step up to ensure that he stops playing the parlour political games and focuses on the real issues that members of the public care about. Scott Morrison has got to step up. He's got to stop playing games around here. We need clear leadership from the Government on all of these issues. What he needs to do today and what he needs to do immediately is to rule out this proposition for the family home to be included as a part of the pensioner assets test.
JOURNALIST: Does Labor have any desire for any kind of conversation around superannuation?
JONES: We do need to have a conversation around superannuation. We know there are problems with the performance of many of the funds. The Government has received a Productivity Commission report that they haven't acted upon in whole. There's a lot of issues that need to be dealt with in the area of superannuation. People with their superannuation accounts, need to have some long-term certainty around superannuation, if they're planning for their retirement. One of the things that he needs to rule out conclusively is any move to axe the move from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent from 2021-25. This campaign that his backbenchers are running to axe increases in superannuation that have been bipartisan for over five years. The Prime Minister needs to put those backbenchers back in their box. We understand that over 12 of them now have added themselves to the campaign to attack workers superannuation retirement incomes. We need to put this campaign back in its box.
JOURNALIST: Labor has spent days articulating all the problems with the temporary exclusion laws legislation. Why is it going to roll over and vote for it?
JONES: We always support, in a bipartisan way, national security legislation. That doesn't stop us from pointing out some obvious problems, some obvious issues with the legislation. When the Government's own members on the PJCIS (Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security) pointed out there were problems with the legislation. We're simply saying to the Government why don't you accept the recommendations of your own members and the bipartisan recommendations of the PJCIS in this area. It's been the way that we've dealt with national security legislation forever. Why the departure?
JOURNALIST: That does mean we’re going to end up in a situation where problematic legislation is going to be legislated.
JONES: We’re not the Government. These are questions that should be put to the Government. They’re questions you should be putting to Peter Dutton and to the Prime Minister. Why are you not accepting the recommendations of the PJCIS? Why have you departed from decades of precedent in having a bipartisan approach to national security? These are questions that you shouldn't be putting to the Opposition. You should be putting this to the Government, They’re the Government. Why are they putting legislation into the House which is against the recommendations of the PJCIS? Labor has always offered bipartisan support in the area of national security; we think the public expects us to do that. It is the Government that needs to answer the questions about why they're not accepting the recommendations of their own members on this committee.
JOURNALIST: You’re the Opposition, but you’re not going to oppose the legislation?
JONES: We are pointing out all the problems with the legislation. At the end of the day the Government's got the numbers in the House and probably in the Senate, from what we're told. The question is on the Government, why are they deciding to reject the recommendations of their own members who have studied this legislation in detail? Why are they rejecting the recommendations of their own members and the bipartisan recommendations of the PJCIS? Thanks very much.