Super for retirement, not cosmetic procedures: Jones

The Albanese government’s proposed superannuation overhaul will stop troubling practices such as surgeons pressuring patients to raid their super to fund cosmetic surgery, the assistant treasurer says.

Stephen Jones defends the government’s suggested definition for superannuation that would limit early access to super and preserve the funds for retirement.

At a Sydney Institute speech due to be delivered on Tuesday evening, Mr Jones will say there are business models set up to “game the system” and treat super as “personal rivers of gold”.

“(Some surgeons and medical practitioners) are encouraging, and even pressuring, patients to tap into their super for what might be termed life-enhancing procedures like cosmetic surgery.”

He says super should be preserved for retirement and not be treated as a short-term fix to problems such as unaffordable housing.

“We know that the answer to housing affordability is building new homes,” he said.

On Monday, the federal government released plans to enshrine the definition of superannuation in law with the intention of limiting early access to funds needed for retirement and potentially overhauling “unsustainable” super tax concessions.

The government also wants to broaden the super industry’s mandate to invest in “double dividend” opportunities that benefit the nation as well as deliver strong returns for members.

The proposed definition states: “The objective of super is to preserve savings to deliver income for a dignified retirement, alongside government support, in an equitable and sustainable way.”

The suggested tinkering with the super system has attracted fierce criticism from the opposition as a plan to stop individuals accessing their super in times of need.

Opposition financial services spokesman Stuart Robert told ABC Radio that the government’s 24-word definition of superannuation was about supporting super funds rather than individuals.

“This is the individual’s money so this attempt is all about Labor’s nation-building scheme, but it is not about the individual and what’s right for them.”

Mr Robert denied super tax concessions largely benefited the wealthy.

“That’s cherry-picking numbers to try and drive an emotive response . Tax concessions benefit everyone equally,” he said.

He said the point of the super tax concessions was to provide a low-tax environment for people to save for the future.

Cabinet minister Chris Bowen said he was surprised the opposition didn’t want a fair super system that benefited people equally.

“The treasurer pointing out that we need to ensure it’s equitable and sustainable should be relatively uncontroversial,” he told ABC Radio.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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