The Australian Labor Party (ALP) has declared it wants an electoral mandate to cut superannuation tax concessions.
The Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, has vowed that the ALP will stick to its policy announced in April to tax superannuation earnings returning more than $75,000 during the retirement phase, and to lower the threshold for the 15 per cent High Income Superannuation Charge from $300,000 to $250,000.
Bowen yesterday told the National Press Club in Canberra that despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott's declaration that the Government would not be changing the superannuation settings, Labor would be seeking an electoral mandate to do so.
"Someone has to show the courage to say it and to deal with it and Labor has decided not only to do that, but to do it before an election and seek a mandate to deal with it," he said.
"An important criterion for a well-functioning tax system is fairness, where there are some contentious and important issues that need to be explored. For example, substantial tax assistance is provided to superannuation savings," Bowen said.
"We need to consider whether the level and distribution of these concessions remains appropriate."
Acknowledging that Labor's policy announcement had been controversial, the Shadow Treasurer said a politician telling people that a tax break can no longer be afforded is never going to be universally popular.
"But it has to be said that the taxation concession on superannuation earnings in retirement is unsustainable. We can't afford it as a nation," he said.
"Tax concessions don't just happen – a tax concession for one person is paid for by higher taxes on another. In this case, the tax concessions for the highest income earners are paid for by the taxes of mums and dads."
The Federal Treasurer, Joe Hockey, questioned the ALP approach and suggested that Labor had failed to deliver on superannuation while in Government.