Joe Hockey is either misrepresenting the facts or hasn’t fully read up on the Government’s changes to lost super, and should apologise to Australian superannuants.
This is the assessment of Labor MP Andrew Leigh, who has launched an attack on the Shadow Treasurer’s statements on lost super.
“Yesterday he made numerous statements trying to scare Australians into thinking that their superannuation will be transferred to the ATO if they don’t make a contribution for 12 months,” said Leigh.
“These assertions by Mr Hockey are completely wrong as super accounts will only be transferred to the ATO if they have been inactive for a period of five years, and only if the balance is under $2,000.
“Mr Hockey should retract these incorrect comments and apologise for misleading Australian superannuants.”
According to Leigh, Hockey made the following “false claims” during a press conference with opposition leader Tony Abbott:
“After 12 months of a dormant account, your superannuation will be transferred to the Australian Taxation Office. This year alone it’s worth $555 million – this year alone, in six months. So, don’t go overseas for 12 months to work. Journalists get postings overseas, Wayne Swan’s going to take your super which I’m expecting would be very generous.”
Leigh went on to quote similar claims made by Hocket during a Sky interview with Kieran Gilbert and a Lateline interview with Emma Alberici.
He added that Hockey failed to stop “peddling these falsehoods” the following morning, telling 2GB radio host Alan jones the following:
“If your kids go overseas for 12 months or you’re unemployed for 12 months and you don’t access your superannuation account, then it’s going to go to the tax office. And if you go to claim it back a year later, the question will be whether your superannuation fund will take the account back and what fees and charges they’re going to charge.”
Leigh has claimed that Hockey’s comments misrepresent a government measure which only applies to the “tiny proportion” of super accounts where the fund does not know who the owner of the account is.
According to Leigh, both the media release announcing the changes to lost superannuation, and the measure description in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) document clearly stated that it was only unidentifiable members who would see their super funds transferred to the ATO after 12 months.
“Currently super funds can hold these accounts for five years after the last contribution was made before they are required to transfer them to the ATO. Reducing the period of time that a super fund can hold the account of an unidentifiable member will encourage super funds to make further inquiries to discover who the owner of the account is, during the period when contributions are being made,” said Leigh.
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