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Survey: Super changes and their impact on the Federal Election

The claims and counterclaims about the impact of the proposed superannuation changes on the 2016 Federal Election result have become as common as the retributions over the Government’s struggles to achieve a majority. On 6 July 2016, The Australian Financial Review ran an article titled, ‘No surprise that voters left Coalition thanks to super changes’ which cited many examples of disenfranchised supporters and the betrayal of principles.

Two pieces of evidence take opposite sides of the debate.

Treasurer Scott Morrison used electoral data to show there was no correlation between swings against the Government and the proportion of the electorate affected by super changes.

The statement from the Treasurer was partly in response to Liberal Senator, Eric Abetz, who had said:

“The issue of superannuation is very dear to the core base of the Liberal party. To have the certainty of that being compromised did send shock waves through that sector of the community that are our core supporters. From right around Australia I got very strong feedback that that was not the way to go forth and I trust that we will ­revisit aspects of that policy.”

Supporting claims of the impact on voters were exit polls taken by Nine-Galaxy in the 25 most marginal seats. It showed that superannuation changes rated as very important for 37% of voters, the fourth most important issue after health and Medicare, education and economic management.

Amid all the anecdotes and anger, we have prepared a short survey to gauge your reaction to these claims, on both your own voting intentions and the overall impact on the election results. We will publish the results next week.

To take our survey on the impact of superannuation changes on the 2016 Federal Election, please click here.


August 08, 2016

I have only voted Labor twice. Once in 1975 and again in 2016. These "non-retrospective" changes affect funds I put into super in 1992. The argument that the proposed changes are fair because they only affect 1% is nothing short evil. I feel stupid for having saved my money and having spent significant sums to ensure that I have complied with all the rules. I should have leased a new Benz every three or four years, spent every holiday break overseas and negatively geared my way into property so that no Gen Y will ever be able to afford to buy their own home. And I nearly forgot--buy myself a big house and collect a pension. I still have time to fix up my mess but I will never vote for the coalition as long as I live. Morrison can undo some of his damage to self funded retirees but he can never assuage the anger.

July 12, 2016

The Libs have a mandate to fix the deficit and fix the economy, but never, never, never do they have the right to meddle retrospectively with superannuation, nor any other legislation for that matter.

People plan for their futures and retirement in good faith within the bounds of present legislation, so to keep trust and faith with the electors, leave it well enough alone.

July 12, 2016

Totally agree with Charles, PR and Ted. I've always voted Liberal but not this time in either the Senate or the House of Reps - the reason being their retrospective and deceptive changes to Super which they blatantly lied about calling them "not retrospective".

There is now no incentive for younger people to put money in Super - you need at least $3M to be in your fund to have any hope of a reasonable retirement pension with current interest rates being so low. This is now unobtainable with the changes made in the last budget.

Scott Morrison needs to totally re-think the changes or resign.

NBN will be an expensive white elephant and obsolete in no time.

Wind Farms have added very significantly to the cost of power and are an expensive, highly subsidized waste of money.

The Liberal Party has a lot of repair work to be done before I vote for them again.

I wrote an extensive email to the Party re the folly of their Super changes during the election campaign but received no reply from them.

Charles DDC
July 12, 2016

The liberals came close to losing this election. They were saved by the Andrews' CFA debacle in Victoria. Shorten must be SO grateful...

The aspirational savers who held their noses and voted liberal this time WILL NOT give the liberals the benefit of the doubt a second time.

Unless the $500k cap is removed plus the $1.6 million raised to say $2.5 or $3 million the liberals WILL lose the next election.

In the meantime, Shorten will have worked out that supporting super is a vote winner. Won't that be ironic.

July 12, 2016

First time I've not voted Liberal. I'm retirement age.

Liberals - want to build lots of windmills, proven to push up electricity costs and harm the environment. (went looking for raptors in SA last month - they've all gone - a known issue with wind turbines)

Liberals - pushing the NBN at a time when most people are going mobile wireless internet, the Governments own figures show this. Telstra says that wireless speeds have the potential to match cable!

Liberals - taxing superannuation retrospectively to 2007 and drastically underestimating the number of people affected. I read of one poor man who was quoted a one off retrospective tax of $25,000.

Liberals, the party with a tin ear.

July 12, 2016

We are encouraged to be financially responsible and save our money. Super is a key component of that, and we spend all our lives preparing our Super for retirement.

There must be a high degree of certainty and continuity regarding the rules for Superannuation, so that people can plan and have confidence in their plan. There must be trust and predictability in the process and the outcome.

I don’t care if it only effects 4% or so. I don’t like politicians tinkering with anyone's Super. The politicians need to look elsewhere to balance their books. They need to be financially responsible themselves, they need to stop spending.

July 12, 2016

If the super measures as announced don't get legislated it will be a sorry day for the young adults and children of the next generation having to unwind the largesse. Howard and Costello I'm convinced would not have intended of creating a situation in this country whereby someone from preservation age onwards, currently 56 can transfer all their super into a tax free earning environment FOR LIFE ie. A super pension. Not even in Singapore can you do this.

I just hope that these comments from bishop and Dwyer are posturing to their electorates to say well at least I tried to voice my objections and my electorates objections to these changes.

Malcolm please push these changes through for the sake of the nation and future generations you don't just represent the selfish baby boomer generation any longer.

July 12, 2016

While the four adult voters in our family voted 1 for our Liberal MHR (he is a Cabinet Minister), I also emailed him and Mathias Cormann, advising that we could never vote for the Libs in the Senate because of the retrospective changes to superannuation arrangements.

July 12, 2016

There are some really good things about the Super changes as well as some really bad ones.

You will be able to contribute to your Super until you are 75, regardless of your employment status. This is a good thing. At present you need to do some part time work during the year to be allowed to contribute to Super if you are over 65.

If your employer has not put the whole of the concessional amount into Super for the year, then you will be allowed to top this up yourself at the end of the year and receive a tax deduction for the amount you contribute. This is also a good thing.

People with really high balances will now pay some tax on their pension mode earnings. This may not seem a good thing if you are affected, but it does seem unfair that retirees can have unlimited tax free income while younger taxpayers with mortgages and school fees to pay are taxed at normal rates. Currently there are nearly 500 people in Australia who have pension mode account balances of over $10m. These people are enjoying tax free earnings of at least $500k.

However the proposed $1.6m cap is a complex way of fixing this, the ALP suggestion of having only the first $75k tax free would be much simpler to administer.

The next bad thing is the reduction in the cap to $25k, making it difficult for people to catch up in the final few years before retirement. Keep in mind that when you contribute $25k you are really only contributing $21,250 after the 15% contributions tax is taken out. It takes a lot of years of contributions of $21,250 to make up a balance sufficient to give you a decent retirement income.

The worst thing is the cap on the non-concessional contributions of $500k for your lifetime. This is very discriminatory as those who have not worked continuously (especially women) are unable to top up their super to anywhere near the $1.6m pension mode cap. We have also been left in limbo on this. The new rule is supposed to apply from the night of the budget, however it is not yet law and may never be law. So we could only contribute an amount for the 2016 tax year that was consistent with both the old and the proposed new rules. The ATO is supposed to be telling us how much we have contributed to date so we know how much we can still put in, but there is no sign of this happening yet although the new cap already applies.

Conrad Hilton
July 12, 2016

Nobody has spoken up about the lowering of the super cap,to wage earners approaching retirement this is a disaster!!!We are losing ten thousand a year that we can put into super from 35k down to 25k,for baby boomers this is a such a kick in the guts to people who were hoping to top there mediocre savings up.

July 10, 2016

Hang on a minute. The exit poll didn't ask people if they were OPPOSED to the superannuation changes. It only asked about their importance as an issue. Many people who regard it as an issue are highly SUPPORTIVE of the changes.

Let's not forget that we have been having non stop analysis and lobbying about the unfairness of superannuation concessions ever since Peter Costello made his radical changes all those years ago. The government's budget changes were in part a response to all that lobbying and analysis about inequity in the system.

When listening to people talk who are opposed to the changes, the key issue for many of them is not so much that the system is being changed to make it fairer, it's the retrospective elements.

But neither the exit poll nor the Cuffelinks survey asks sufficient questions to determine whether people oppose or support the changes. Nor do they ask the more important question of whether people opposed to it are opposed to the whole thing or just the retrospectivity.

At the moment there seems to be a lot of people reading far too much into surveys that haven't asked the relevant questions in the first place.

Graham Hand
July 11, 2016

Hi David, fair enough that the questions could be asked another way, but on this point: "Nor do they ask the more important question of whether people opposed to it are opposed to the whole thing or just the retrospectivity." ... the second question asks if backdating of the NCC was the major factor.

July 12, 2016

Graham, I understand Q2 asks about the major factors. But it doesn't ask whether those major factors are regarded as a positive or negative. From the perspective of "outraged opponents" it is obvious that it is meant to be negative. But from the perspective of people who are supportive of the changes that is not necessarily the case.

Imagine for a moment that you are someone who supports the government's changes and it influenced your decision to vote for them. Then try answering your survey. Someone in that position may well give exactly the same answers as an "outraged opponent" but for completely different reasons.

The "results" of the survey will be largely predetermined by its design and interpretation. Which is fair enough if your primary objective is to give a loyal fanbase an opportunity to vent their spleen in a similar manner to an ACA phone poll.

But if you are trying to be objective and insightful I don't believe your survey is fit for that purpose.

July 10, 2016

Not just pollies (mostly human), all of us act in self-interest. Super is more dear to those of us who make a living out of it, or are close to realising it is not (as many younger people dismissively consider) fake money.

We should be grateful that the genie of unsustainable super concessions is now out of the bottle. How the finely balanced electoral arithmetic will interact with necessary long term reform is unclear.

Those of us who are adversely affected - who took tax-free super regardless of size, use it for estate planning rather than retirement, who gamed the rules of transition to retirement - all legally should pause to consider that many are not so lucky. Salary sacrifice is unavailable to many. Compulsory SG does not apply to the self-employed.

Most of all, the concessions are funded by the taxpayer who on an average is poorer than many beneficiaries of concessions.

The history of unsustainable retirement benefit systems is being played out in Europe, American municipalities and Asian public service schemes (because they are unfunded), literally faith-based. And the rewards will likewise be in the hereafter.

Lucky we are not so unlucky, and have tweaked to the problem before it becomes intractable.

July 09, 2016

Low income households get no tax subsidies from superannuation contributions whereas wealthy households get subsidies that aggregate to more than a million dollars over a lifetime. Other than self-interest, tell me why that is a good scheme? Why is there any reason to provide incentives for compulsory contributions?

Alfred Ellis
July 14, 2016

My wife and I are in our seventies and have non - concessional account balances. We have worked hard to build our account balances knowing that one will suffer dementia and need much care. We have complied with all rules and now find that The Turnbull Liberal Government is retrospectively changing the rules which will penalise us for having uneven account balances with one having in excess of $1.6m and the other far less. The PM said that a couple can have $3.2m and above that the earnings will be taxed. We would accept that but because we are prevented from evening up our account balances now that RBLs are to be introduced we will pay much extra tax.

July 08, 2016

Interesting to see Liberal supporters so passionately defending a measure introduced by Labor to help provide for workers in their retirement. Superannuation was introduced as a retirement scheme, but the Libs saw a great chance to morph it into a tax shelter (the Republic of Superannuation). A great shame, really, as now the precedent has been set for endless changes to long term policy.

July 12, 2016

Ben - unfortunately, these 'endless changes' have already been happening. Personally, I despair at the changes to the point I have now largely lost faith in superannuation which seems to have become a play-thing for political parties with constant changing of the goal posts. There can be no denying the 'equity' arguments around superannuation and also, more generally in the design of good tax policy, a broad base to ensure it does not become a quasi-loophole and estate planning technique.
Cheers, Michael

Been there B4
July 08, 2016

My observation is that after Julie Bishop put her foot in her mouth about Super, both sides took Super off the table as a key issue. Reality is the proposed changes mainly effect the small %age of people who have large balances.

I reckon the Government will re-visit the contribution caps and raise the $500k cap on non-concessional contribs.

July 08, 2016

Everyone seems to have forgotten that over 300,000 part pensioners are getting a pay cut when the new assets test rules take effect in January 17. Some couples will lose over $13,000 of their income.

As this was a Liberal party policy, there would be a lot of backlash against the Libs from these people. This group represents about 2% of voters, and the effect of this policy on the election results may have been considerable. Probably at least as much as from the super reforms.

No-one asked whether the pension cuts affected the decision of voters in any survey or poll I have seen, the media has more or less ignored it from the time it was proposed.

To put the cuts in perspective a couple with $850,000 will no longer get a government pension. If they put this amount into a cpi indexed lifetime annuity they will get around $26,000 per year in income. They still get no pension as the $850,000 is still considered an asset, although this will reduce slowly over their lifetime.

If they spent their $850,000 before they retired so they had no assets, or if they had never bothered to save in the first place, they would get around $34,000 in government pension.

Andrew Main
July 08, 2016

What haven't been considered in this discussion are the long term implications of the super changes.

While some of them are fair and necessary, there's a risk that if the changes are legislated, many savers will be discouraged from contributing to super and thus will end up more likely to be on a pension.

Not what the Budget needs, but in the political cycle that's over the horizon.

Graham Hand
July 08, 2016

Now over 400 votes, please keep them coming as this is likely to receive wide media coverage and the more responses, the better the sample.

July 08, 2016

Noticed in the exit polls that marginally more LABOR supporters say super was very important for their voting.

Bob G
July 08, 2016

Change was justified but many are swayed by exaggerated claims and fail to read and think clearly about the changes which were not unreasonable and very limited in their impact. Only the very wealthy plundering the system unfairly will be affected.

Graham Hand
July 08, 2016

Now well over 300 responses. Great to see, makes the survey a good sample for analysis.

Genelle Thomson
July 08, 2016

It seems to me that the greater common good is hardly ever considered nowadays.

We are lucky to have a very good super allocated pension and pay no tax. Compare this with a family with two children who pay 30% on a similar income. Is this fair? We don't think so and expect that we should make a contribution too. We were able to make large undeductible contributions with no charge and able to use two inheritances to boost our super total.

Peter S
July 07, 2016

Agree with Alex completely. The one reasonable policy produced by the coalition.

Graham Hand
July 07, 2016

Over 200 responses already ... which way do you think the voting is going on the first question on influencing their vote?

July 07, 2016

This is a storm in a teacup. Get the facts people, and have a bex and a good lie down. Both sets of proposals just rein in an unreasonable inequity. FWIW, I am affected by the proposed cap on pensionable funds and on the maximum tax free pension but agree with their intent and direction

July 07, 2016

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said 'What a good boy am I!

Turnbull had an idea about paying for his super by taxing my piggy bank 15%
The collective wisdom of the Liberal MP's was circumvented by his unilateral decision after Bill Shorten secretly agreed to do the same mischief.

Mal, you are not a good boy and you lost your integrity by overturning contractual promises given by previous PM's and Parliaments.

The ambushed sheep (resisting the intended 15% haircut) have spoken.

July 07, 2016

Morrison like most politicians only see what they want in polls.

July 07, 2016

It was not a matter of whether a voter was actually affected by the super changes, it was the issue of broken promises and the attitude that core conservatives had nowhere else to go. But they did, didn't they?

Graham Hand
July 07, 2016

Thanks for the passionate responses - already over 100 in the first half hour. Lots of people very angry. Results next week.


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