Labor Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers says increasing super will be a key election promise

Labor will go to the next federal election defending the legislated rise in superannuation contributions for workers, Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers says.

Scheduled to speak on Friday afternoon at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia conference, Dr Chalmers will launch the opposition’s pledge to lift the superannuation guarantee to 12 per cent, claiming its scrapping would make Australians poorer at retirement.

A slew of Coalition MPs have called for the hike to either be canned or delayed as it would hamper the nation’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Morrison government should stop pretending another super freeze is about higher wages instead of higher super, when the truth is they want neither and they have form on both,” an excerpt from Dr Chalmers’ forthcoming speech reads.

“Instead of developing a plan to boost wages and retirement incomes at the same time, the government wants to undermine both by framing it as a simple but fundamentally false choice.”

Labor’s stance on superannuation echoes similar words by former Prime Minister Paul Keating and major industry super funds, which have branded the Morrison government of attempting to unravel the country’s retirement income system.

Dr Chalmers’ speech will follow on opposition leader Anthony Albanese’s cornerstone election pledge of creating secure jobs.

It has been argued the rise superannuation would come at the expense of real-time wage growth, which the Reserve Bank has tipped will remain stagnant for years.

RBA governor Philip Lowe last year said a superannuation guarantee rise would affect wage growth and was a matter the government needed to discuss.

In his speech, Dr Chalmers noted the last time a super freeze occurred, wages did not significantly increase.

“The last super freeze didn’t spur wages growth,” he said.

“In the six years before the government froze the super guarantee in 2014, wages grew at about 3.3 per cent, but in the six years since, wages growth has averaged barely 2 per cent.”

The government has made no formal announcement that it intends to scrap the superannuation guarantee rise.

Following the retirement income review report last year, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the government would look at policy settings to see if changes needed to occur in light of the pandemic.

“We’ve always been quite cautious through the course of this pandemic to try and make decisions at a time when the information is at its best,” Mr Frydenberg said in October.

“And we’re not at that point, when it comes to making a number of those decisions.”

The superannuation guarantee rate is set to rise to 10 per cent on July 1 and incrementally increase by 0.5 per cent to 12 per cent by July 2025.

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