Superannuation has emerged as one of the earliest battlegrounds in the 2013 Federal Election campaign with the Government attacking the Opposition on suggestions it will abolish the low income super rebate, while the Coalition is attacking the Government over its signal it will lift super taxes on high income earners.
The Minister for Financial Services, Bill Shorten, kicked off the tit-for-tat debate referencing an interview in which he said the Federal Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, had confirmed the Coalition would scrap the low income super rebate.
Shorten said this represented a confirmation that under an Abbott Government, 3.6 million low-paid Australians would see their taxes rise.
However the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Senator Mathias Cormann, countered by claiming a policy announcement by the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, dealing with superannuation tax concessions for higher income earners indicated she wanted to treat Australian super savings as an "ATM to help fund Labor's wasteful spending".
"Julia Gillard has all but made clear that under Labor there will be more pain for Australian super savers," he said.
"Every time Labor increases taxes on Australian super savers they reduce the incentive for them to do the right thing by saving towards achieving a self-funded retirement."
While organisations such as the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia called for policy certainty on superannuation to bolster confidence in the system, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) criticised the Coalition's decision not to support the Government's low income super rebate.
AIST chief executive Fiona Reynolds said it was very disappointing that the Coalition was not supporting the measure, which was aimed squarely at boosting the retirement savings of those most in need.
"While the Coalition has been quick to criticise floated changes to super taxation concessions to very high income earners, they have no such concern for the lowest paid workers and their comfort in retirement," she said.
"We hope that the Coalition's commitment to not making any negative changes to super includes supporting the Future of Financial Advice Reforms, the productivity recommendations for default funds and maintaining the equal representative trustee system for not-for-profit funds, as all these measures benefit working Australians," Reynolds said.