Bill Shorten (Australian Labor Party) claims that the changes to superannuation (2016) are retrospective. Is this really the case if so how / why?

The QandA episode this statement was made in http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s2721753.htm


1 Answer 1


This article explains why the changes should not be considered retrospective.

The implication of the article is that Bill Shorten's argument is that the changes are retrospective in that they apply to interest on money that is already in accounts. Those accounts were created under the assumption that the money in them would receive a certain tax treatment. This is changing the tax treatment going forward.

The article says that the changes should not be considered retrospective, as they only apply to future income. It gives a legal definition of retrospective that looks correct.

Note however that Shorten's policy may still be a good one. It is quite possible that this kind of change should be opposed, even if it is not technically a retrospective change. It is quite possible that he is simply describing the problem incorrectly. You'll have to make up your own mind on that.

The basic thrust of his argument is that people contributed money to a superannuation account under the understanding that it would receive a certain tax treatment. Those people should not now get a different tax treatment in his opinion. They should get the tax treatment promised when they invested.

  • The counter-argument would be where does this end? For example, if Australia had a flat tax of 35% and taxed excess superannuation income at that rate, could they increase the flat tax to 40%? Or would older accounts still only pay 35%? If you say no to that, what if they add the 15% tax under discussion only to new account deposits above the cap? Could they change that rate to 20% in the future? Or is it always going to be 15% on those moneys? Now consider that the current tax rate is 0%. Can they change it? Should they be able to do so? Where's the line?
    – Brythan
    Jun 22, 2016 at 3:31

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