Conservative Liberal Party Senator Eric Abetz has lashed out at his party for its handling of superannuation in the lead up to Election 2016, saying the Coalition got a “kick up the pants” for not heeding public opinion about super.
Mr Abetz believes the Liberal Party ‘just fell over the line’ in the election, and feels his party’s election win was the “barest of victories”.
“When you have had such a big kick up the pants, as we have had as the Coalition, and especially the Liberal Party element of the Coalition, then I think it is worthwhile to ask the question; ‘why did we haemorrhage so many seats? Why did we haemorrhage so many votes?’,” Senator Abetz told Radio National yesterday.
The outspoken conservative said the Coalition’s proposal for a $500,000 lifetime cap on after-tax super concessions was a sore point for older voters.
“The superannuation measures were presented to the party room at the budget and then the budget was immediately announced to the people and we went off to an election, so this matter has not been properly ventilated through the party room,” said Mr Abetz. “It’s quite clear now from leaks from within Cabinet that there were misgivings within the Cabinet and backbenchers right around the country have indicated their misgivings.”
Senator Abetz says his party now needs to respond to the way Australians voted, with recalibrated super policies being a top priority.
Western Australian Liberal Senator Chris Back agrees with Mr Abetz, saying that voters told him personally that they were happy to back the Liberals in the Lower House, but were hoping to keep them out of the Senate so its super changes would be dropped.
“There were certainly people who said to me we will vote Liberal in the House of Representatives but we won’t support you in the Senate,” said Senator Back.
Monday marks the Liberal Party’s first post-election party room meeting, and Senator Back is hopeful that, as a result of the meeting, disaffected retirees will feel some sense of relief.
“Dyed-in-the-wool Liberal voters said to me they were very, very upset by the suggestion that something backdated to 2007 was not retrospective, they felt insulted by that comment,” said Mr Back. “I look forward to a debate on Monday and indeed I can understand the position of the leadership team, saying we have got to make these savings, and they do.”
However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised that his Government will deliver on its election promises over its forthcoming term and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann stated that the Government will implement the proposed changes to super tax concessions.
“We took an agenda to the election, the Australian people voted in this election about their preferred team, their preferred plan and we now have a responsibility to get on with the job of implementing the plan that we took to the election,” said Mr Cormann.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also told ABC radio yesterday that because the Coalition campaigned with its super policy in the lead up to the election its super policy should remain the same.
Did the Liberal Party’s planned super changes influence your vote? Which aspects of the Government’s super policies would you like to see scrapped? With which policies do you agree?