The Labor government has once again taken fright at the slightest billionaire whingeing over its mildest-of-mild proposal to tax superannuation balances of more than $3 million from the discounted 15% to 30% in 2025 (after the next federal election).
The fact is that the billionaires have exploited the generous superannuation tax concessions just as they have always exploited every other tax concession or loophole.
And they have protested even the slightest attempt to wind back their rorting.
The cartoonists have had a field day pointing out the obvious, but Labor Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese are shivering in their suits.
There was always a problem with the private superannuation system that the Paul Keating Labor government introduced back in 1992.
It always was a plan that best served big business and the rich.
They enjoyed a new avenue of tax minimisation and, more importantly, it was a forced saving scheme that placed a large proportion of ordinary workers’ wages at the disposal of the big corporations to invest in whatever they choose — including in ecologically- and socially-destructive ventures.
It had another big flaw: it created an ever-growing drain on tax income that would then turn into pressure for ever more cuts to important social services.
The Australia Institute (TAI) warned in 2014, that “super tax concessions, most of which are being claimed by people able to afford early retirements if they choose, will soon cost more than the age pension”.
We have now passed that point.
Superannuation tax concessions now cost as much as the age pension and more than the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), both of which are inadequate and failing some of the most vulnerable people, TAI revealed on February 28.
A detailed TAI study, Sustaining us all in retirement, published by David Ingles and Richard Denniss in 2014, made a powerful case for a universal public age pension scheme instead of the private superannuation mess. It would cost less and be fairer, the study found.
Superannuation tax concessions are just one of many perks that are routinely exploited by the billionaire class.
In fact, these days many of the biggest corporations — including the mining companies, the arms industry, the road tollway monopolies, developers and the construction companies — fatten their profits with public subsidies.
The wealthiest have been getting tax cuts for ages, and Labor government is about to deliver them the Coalition’s Stage 3 tax cuts.
All this is happening while the federal budget is weighed down by debt, ballooned by the COVID-19 pandemic subsidies, which were also shamelessly exploited by big corporations.
The richest 1% increased their wealth 10 times more than the poorest 50%, Oxfam Australia revealed in January. The 1% “squirelled away more than $2500 a second (or $150,000 per minute) for 10 years straight”.
The billionaire class uses its domination of the mass media, and the little army of politicians and commentators it keeps in its pocket, to routinely tag the poorest in our society as lazy bludgers, when the former are the biggest bludgers of all.
Their wealth and privilege does not come from their hard work, but rather from their exploitation of the hard work of the rest of society.
Green Left has sometimes felt a bit alone in calling out the rich and powerful. But when the billionaires outreach themselves with their greedy demands, such as right now, we find ourselves in a lot of good company.
But the struggle to build a new world liberated from the billionaire class is a long one. We need your help to persist with it. So please take out, or encourage, a Green Left supportership, or make a donation to our Fighting Fund.