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Tuesday 26 July 2016

Super stuff-up!

If there was a single policy that contributed most to the loss of faith in Turnbull and Morrison in this election campaign it has been their ill conceived Superannuation policy. This policy alone turned many from loyal LNP supporters into at the very least skeptics but some into outright enemies.

Given the many and oft repeated claims by a broad spectrum of LNP ministers, including, most pointedly, our current treasurer that "we won't touch super", " the government is not after your money", it is no wonder that many have turned their backs on the party. It has left a deep scar that will heal but not for a while.

Change or stay the course?

Before the election Turnbull and Morrison could have retreated from some of the most controversial parts of the policy, those relating to the lifetime after tax contribution cap of $550,000 and the blatantly retrospective commencement "from 2007". Yes, this would have been a loss of face and it would have lost some credibility, but by any measure sticking to the controversial policy they have lost much more.

After the election however that option is not so easy.

They are left with only unsavory alternatives.

If the Super policy legislation is presented to the parliament in the form in which they were advocated at the election, it will remain as an ongoing scar against Turnbull and Morrison that will haunt them for whatever period they have in office.

If on the other hand they modify it, they will not only have angered their base for no reason, worse still they will repeat the policy flip-flops that contributed to the downfall of both Abbott and Gillard governments. You cannot change the policy you have taken to an election without serious adverse consequences.

Reluctantly I have to accept they have no choice but to present the legislation as proposed at the election, and hope the Senate saves them.

The Senate may well save them

Although this is by no means likely, it is possible that the Senate will reject or insist on modifications to the policy that was taken to the election.

Many in the crossbench owe at least part of their support to their stated position against the government's Super and so will naturally reject the most controversial propositions. So in this case at least Turnbull will get help from the cross bench.

It then really depends on the ALP.  

The ALP was very vocal about the 'Retrospectivity" in the proposed rules but then 'banked' all the savings. This inconsistent approach may have been expedient during an election campaign but now needs to be reconciled. If they dig their heels in and insist on modifications, it will give Turnbull an out. He will be able to modify the policies to smooth over the most controversial parts relating to the lifetime limit on after-tax contributions. It would be hard for the ALP to argue against the removal of the retrospectivity thorn from the policy when they had argued against in during the campaign, but of course this is the ALP and they have done similar policy flip flops in the past.

However the very fact that it gives Turnbull an out may sway the ALP to simply support the legislation as proposed to entrench the resentment by the LNP supporters against Turnbull and Morrison. 

My guess is the ALP won't do this. They won't be able to resist grandstanding and will choose to reject the legislation. I guess we'll see.

In any case if the legislation is rejected, it will give Turnbull the justification to make necessary changes to remove the controversial aspects of the policy and find a middle road to calm LNP supporters. Let's hope he takes that road. He seems doggedly deaf to advice and I fear he may not.

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