WEDNESDAY, 6 MARCH 2019
SUBJECT: The Morrison Government asking the Tax Office to enforce an unlegislated tax amnesty to benefit dodgy bosses.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Last year, the Liberals introduced a bill into Parliament that would give a 12 month amnesty to employers who hadn't paid their employees superannuation. Let's be clear what this means. If you're a boss who failed to pay your required superannuation obligations to your workers, you wouldn't face any penalties. Those penalties are significant. They can be up to 200 per cent of the amount unpaid, reflecting the fact that when an employee doesn't get superannuation then they miss out not only on the money but also on the earnings – the compounding returns.
Labor didn’t back that bill. We said we didn't believe that employers who had failed to live up to their obligations to their workers should get off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. We said that it wasn't appropriate to be letting dodgy bosses off scot free at the same time as the government came down like a ton of bricks on any welfare recipient who did the wrong thing. Yet the Liberals went ahead and asked the Tax Office to enforce the amnesty. It turns out from reports today that hundreds of applications rolled in and the Tax Office continued to process them. Now, recognising that the bill won't pass parliament - it's been languishing in the Senate since June last year - the Tax Office is going to use its discretion to waive penalties against these employers.
So let's be absolutely clear what this means. The Liberals wanted an amnesty on dodgy bosses that didn't pay their workers’ superannuation. Parliament said no and they went ahead and did it anyway. This shows how arrogant and out of touch the Liberals have become. Under Scott Morrison, the Liberals are a party of hubris who think that they can do whatever they like regardless of what the parliament says. This scandal has all of the incompetence of the Census failure and all of the arrogance of the Helloworld affair.
Labor has a strong policy on unpaid superannuation. Clare O'Neil last year announced a policy to tackle unpaid superannuation, including a commitment to include a right to superannuation within the National Employment Standards. This would give all employees the power to pursue their unpaid superannuation. But we won't tackle the issue of unpaid superannuation by simply saying to dodgy bosses they don't need to bother paying because they can just wait on another amnesty. That sort of lackadaisical approach to public policy won't see Australian workers get the superannuation they deserve. Superannuation is theirs. It is deferred wages. Labor takes the non-payment of superannuation extremely seriously and we are shocked that the Liberal Party would have the Tax Office enforce this amnesty despite the fact that Parliament had clearly decided not to approve it.
Any questions? Thanks very much.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra.