TOM CONNELL: Joining me now, Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, thanks very much for your time. We've seen some kite flying this week from Labor. So what's your big issue? The possibility of tax concessions being crimped again, because this has been something that your party did as well in 2016. Or is it the specter of the so-called broken promise?
JANE HUME: Tom, it's hardly kite flying. I mean, I think this is more less like a kite and more like the Hindenburg. It's been a pretty ordinary week, I think for Jim Chalmers. And for Anthony Albanese, and ably assisted by the Coalition's favorite minister, the Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones. You know, before the election, Jim Chalmers said there would be no changes to tax. This week he said that we need to close tax loopholes in superannuation. Before the election, Anthony Albanese said there were going to be no changes to superannuation. This week, he said there were going to be no major changes to superannuation. And yes, Stephen Jones the self-opening pinata of the government. This week said and let me get this one right. I think I'd have to read it because it is a very important quote. With the budget under considerable pressure, we need to consider reforms that put all elements on a more sustainable basis. We want to make sure there is plenty of honey to go around. Well you can understand Tom, why Australians would hear that and think Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, where did that come from? Where did that come from? How on earth you could refer to my personal savings as your personal honey pot. It's not just offensive, it's terrifying.
TOM CONNELL: I feel like you've been practicing that one minute opening spray you usually give with Jenny McAllister because there was a lot there. Let me ask you though, just on the changes. So if Labor says because to be fair, I have an outline and then they do so far even timing if I were to take this to an election, would you then look at it on merit and assess whether it is a good idea because it is a budget under pressure?
JANE HUME: Well, let me understand what it is that they're taking to an election. At the beginning of the week, they were talking about setting an objective about the purpose of super. Now, the Retirement Income Review that was commissioned by the former government said that it would be far better to establish our purpose or an objective for the retirement income system, of which superannuation is just one part. Because, of course, our retirement or the quality of life and retirement is not just determined by your superannuation balance, but also by the age pension, your super, your savings outside of super including your family home, and the interaction between all three of those elements. Now Labor have just simply focused on superannuation because, and they have said, they have said that this is a budget repair. Now that is something that is completely new. We know that when Labor run out of money, they come after yours.
TOM CONNELL: Let's talk about what has been floated then, albeit in a sort of, we are doing a lot of passing this week. But $3 million super account, so accounts with $3 million or more and then looking at not necessarily scrapping the concessions, but they're currently those earnings are taxed at 15%. And those sort of accounts would earn something at approaching the top tax bracket which is nearly 50%. So is there a bit of fat to trim there? Is this the right area to look?
JANE HUME: Is that exactly what they're proposing because we've heard three different numbers. We've heard 2 million we've heard 5 million, we've heard 3 million. Are they planning to do it retrospectively? Or is it just prospectively? Are they planning to increase it up to a marginal tax rate or simply add another 15% There are so many different elements to this there is no way there was no way we could say all the government with the opposition would consider this or consider that because there’s nothing clear.
TOM CONNELL: Okay, so that’s fair enough that you're gonna wait to say yes or no on a concrete proposal, but what about broadly looking at this, when you see figures such as Super cans with $5 million or more in them, that at the moment they get tax breaks of $1.5 billion, then in a tight budgetary situation? Is that really a good use of taxpayer money? What do you think?
JANE HUME: Now, in a tight budgetary situation I think that you have hit the nail on the head there, Tom. In a budgetary tight situation, what a government should do, particularly one that committed to no changes in superannuation and no new taxes. In a tight budgetary situation, then a government should control its spending, not necessarily look for opportunities to tax people more particularly, potentially, retrospectively. Particularly people's retirement savings. Particularly when people have relied upon the existing rules to make those contributions to superannuation. This is no doubt about it a broken promise pure and simple, pure and simple.
TOM CONNELL: Well, we have to wait to see if they do it before it's a broken promise. But whilst you say you know people put their money in good faith, you can easily reduce the tax concession from say 15 to 30%. And it's still a better vehicle for tax than anything else someone was going to do with their money. So whilst you are changing the rules, you wouldn't really be feeling too sorry for the people with say three or $5 million plus in their super accounts, would you?
JANE HUME: And we're changing the story to. I mean, this is all about apparently making sure that a superannuation system is sustainable but in fact the Retirement Income Review told us that the system is sustainable. One of the reasons why that is, is because the coalition government previously introduced a transfer balance cap, which means that above and beyond a certain amount, but the tax concessions are reduced in superannuation, that's why it's a sustainable system already. This is a trojan horse. It's a trojan horse for opportunities for this government to dip into your retirement savings to pay for their spending wishlist.
TOM CONNELL: At this stage, it's not mine at 3 million but I suspect you're using the plural you there. Jane Hume we’ll talk again soon, we'll talk next week. Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume, thank you.