Josh Frydenberg backs legislated increase in superannuation


“That’s legislated and we’ve said we haven’t any plans to change it,” Mr Frydenberg said on Sunday.

“We’ve been very clear, both the Prime Minister and I, on that. We’ve said we’re not changing that – it’s already legislated.”

The Gillard government passed the increase in the guarantee levy from 9 to 12 per cent by 2019 but the Abbott government slowed the pace of change so employers would not have to pay the higher rate until 2025, leading to Labor claims that it would be delayed again or shelved.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said there were “no plans” to change the policy while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has ruled out changes to the timetable.

But Liberal backbenchers including Andrew Bragg, Jason Falinski, Craig Kelly, James Paterson and Tim Wilson have questioned the need to reach 12 per cent, while the Grattan Institute has called for a halt to the increase.

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While Mr Frydenberg was criticised by Seniors Australia last week for talking about retraining older workers to keep them in the workforce, he insisted he was not trying to force Australians to work longer.

“It’s a wonderful thing, that people are living longer, but we also need to plan for it, and that’s a demographic shift and we need to plan for it,” he said.

“And it’s not about asking people, forcing people to work longer. What we’re saying here is people should have an opportunity and the choice, if they so choose, to engage in further skilling and other activities.”

Mr Frydenberg fired a warning shot at Westpac over an AUSTRAC investigation in which the nation’s money-laundering and terrorism finance regulator identified 23 million alleged breaches of the law.

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AUSTRAC is seeking civil penalties against Westpac in the Federal Court but Mr Frydenberg signalled further action against the bank. “There must be accountability and that will obviously involve decisions that they take about the futures of senior management, as well as the board,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg said the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority had the authority to punish companies, directors and executives where there had been a failure to perform their duties.

He noted that the Banking Executive Accountability Regime was legislated in 2018 and was not retrospective, while some of the alleged Westpac offences date back to 2013.

“APRA is an independent agency like AUSTRAC and they will determine their own conclusions, but what I will say is that they are looking at it and obviously they have particular powers under that legislation that we introduced,” he said.

Asked on the ABC’s Insiders program what action he wanted to see, Mr Frydenberg noted the Westpac annual general meeting was coming up on December 12.

“These issues develop a momentum of their own … and no doubt there’ll be some very hard discussions between now and then,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg also said he had spoken to Westpac chief executive Brian Hartzer and chairman Lindsay Maxsted and “made very clear” the seriousness of the alleged breaches.

Asked if jail sentences should be imposed on individual directors or executives, as recommended by former competition regulator Allan Fels, the Treasurer pointed to existing laws that could fine companies and disqualify directors.

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