A group of millionaires unhappy with the impending changes to superannuation legislation, which will see increased taxes on contributions for those earning over $250,000 from 1 July and reduced tax concessions on retirement accounts is taking responsibility for the campaign to unseat Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer at the next Federal election.
A group called Save Our Super, led by lawyer Jack Hammond QC, is spearheading the push to see Tony Abbott’s former chief-of-staff Peta Credlin preselected for the federal seat of Higgins, currently held by Ms O’Dwyer.
The timing of the push, just days after Ms O’Dwyer had given birth to her second child, was intended to cause maximum damage while allowing her little recourse to defend herself.
Mr Hammond, who appeared on 7.30 on Monday night, claimed that the campaign wasn’t meant to interfere with her maternity leave, but he was quite happy to joke about it when he went on the attack.
“It’s a complete, if you pardon the pun, misconception. It’s got nothing to do with her being on maternity leave,” he said. “They gave birth to an appalling policy.”
The policy changes, which were championed by Ms O’Dwyer when she was the Minister for Superannuation and Assistant Treasurer, sparked anger last year for being retrospective, penalising those who had already invested a great deal in their superannuation.
Ms Credlin has since denied that she is interested in standing for the seat of Higgins at the next election, appearing to scupper the plans of the Save Our Super group.
The new outbreak of infighting is further bad news for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with former Prime Minister Abbott constantly appearing in the media to offer his criticisms of the Government.
The Liberals faced a strong challenge for the seat of Higgins at the last Federal election with high-profile Greens candidate Jason Ball finishing second on 42 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
Jack Hammond QC may have a case about allowing the Government’s superannuation changes to be grandfathered, so the goalposts are not moved on those that have already invested their money or planned their retirement based on the old rules. But let’s face it, in this instance we are talking about people who can afford expensive financial advice to minimise the effect of such legislative changes.
However, the timing of his move, waiting for Ms O’Dwyer to be on maternity leave, is nothing short of despicable.
Making it a personal attack on Ms O’Dwyer when the changes were essentially the brainchild of Treasurer Scott Morrison only adds to the belief that there are sections of the Liberal party and its base that have an issue with women in politics.
This Government already has just five women in the 22-member Cabinet and the attacks on Ms O’Dwyer while on maternity leave will not do much to improve the party’s votes among women.
Ms O’Dwyer worked right up until the birth of her second child and is only taking six weeks maternity leave from her position.
Mr Hammond, who was an adviser to Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser in the 1980s, knew exactly what he was doing with the timing of his announcement.
Unfortunately any point he has been trying to make has been lost in the grubbiness of his attacks and the misplaced logic of going after a relatively junior minister.
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