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Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd slam 'cruel' Scott Morrison over plans to scrap superannuation increase

Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd have launched blistering attacks on Scott Morrison’s government, accusing it of using the pandemic to rob Australians of a compulsory superannuation increase. 

Mr Keating, who as treasurer between 1983 and 1991 played a leading role in the introduction from 1992 of the superannuation guarantee, on Monday said returns on labour productivity rises since 2012 had all gone back to companies.

He said that with wages likely to remain stagnant throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath, the super guarantee increase was the only rise workers might get.

The current super guarantee has sat at 9.5 per cent since 2014 and is legislated to increase to 10 per cent next year before gradually rising to 12 per cent. 

‘Under the cowardly talk of the COVID crisis, they want to gyp ordinary people by 2.5 percent of their income for the rest of their life,’ Mr Keating said. 

Former prime ministers Paul Keating (pictured) and Kevin Rudd have accused the government of using the pandemic to rob Australians of a compulsory superannuation increase set for 2021

Former prime ministers Paul Keating (pictured) and Kevin Rudd have accused the government of using the pandemic to rob Australians of a compulsory superannuation increase set for 2021

The legislated increases had already been delayed a number of years in 2014 by former prime minister Tony Abbott and treasurer Joe Hockey.

‘Working people have contributed just on 10 percentage points of labour productivity since 2012 and none of it has gone to wages, zero,’ Mr Keating told reporters.

‘The only bit that can go to wages is the 2.5 per cent super (increase).

‘We’ve had 10 per cent labour productivity … what is the superannuation guarantee asking for? It’s asking for a quarter of the productivity to come back to them.’

Mr Keating also accused government members of hypocrisy as they take home a 15.6 per cent superannuation guarantee while seeking to cancel a super rise for others.

He said the super guarantee issue would serve as a ‘litmus test’ of treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s ability to enact structural change in the economy amid the pandemic.

The former prime minsters (Kevin Rudd pictured) labelled the move to scrap the compulsory increase as a 'cowardly' and 'cruel' attack on working class Australians

The former prime minsters (Kevin Rudd pictured) labelled the move to scrap the compulsory increase as a ‘cowardly’ and ‘cruel’ attack on working class Australians

‘The gall of it, the heartlessness of it, the unfairness of it,’ Mr Keating said.

‘This malarky they talk of ‘if they take it in super, they won’t get it in wages’ … as the (statistics) make clear, there’s been no wages growth for eight years and there’s not going to be.

‘It’s a dipstick into whether the government has any ideas about the future.

‘The so-called party of business (in Australia) does not understand capital.’ 

Mr Rudd labelled Mr Morrison’s argument that the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on businesses and employment lead to the idea as ‘bulls***’. 

‘That is the biggest bulls*** argument I have ever heard against going ahead with decent provisions for people’s superannuation savings for the future,’ he said.

Mr Rudd said Mr Morrison's (pictured) argument that the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on businesses and employment lead to the idea was 'bulls***'

Mr Rudd said Mr Morrison’s (pictured) argument that the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on businesses and employment lead to the idea was ‘bulls***’

‘This is a cruel assault by Morrison on the retirement income of working Australians, and using the cover of COVID to try and get away with it.’ 

Mr Keating demanded the treasurer stare down the ‘pipsqueak ideologues’ and ‘bumpkins’ on his backbench and dismiss calls to scrap the legislated increases to the 9.5 per cent compulsory superannuation guarantee.  

A number of coalition backbenchers have called for the annulment of this legislation to reduce strain on businesses, a measure not yet ruled out by Mr Frydenberg.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers accused Mr Morrison and Mr Frydenberg of seeking to break their election promise to commit to the super guarantee increase.

Australians negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can until the end of the year extract up to $10,000 from their superannuation accounts.

‘When those working people go and retire in the decades ahead they will have gutted their retirement income, and that’s because this government has allowed them to do that – and in fact forced them to do that – in the absence of an economic policy alternative,’ Mr Rudd said.

Mr Keating has demanded treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured) stare down the 'pipsqueak ideologues' and 'bumpkins' on his backbench and dismiss calls to scrap the legislated increases

Mr Keating has demanded treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured) stare down the ‘pipsqueak ideologues’ and ‘bumpkins’ on his backbench and dismiss calls to scrap the legislated increases

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