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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor must do its homework before announcing new policies

The Labor Party’s superannuation policy announcement yesterday by Opposition Leader Mark Latham was marred by a serious error, which Shadow Minister for Retirement Incomes and Savings, Senator Nick Sherry, attempted to pass off as merely a “definitional” error.

Labor’s attempts to gloss over its “super blooper” as merely a “definitional” error cannot hide its sloppy policy approach and inattention to important details. Such a casual approach raises serious questions about Labor’s ability to manage taxpayers’ money.

Mr Latham demonstrated his lack of understanding of Australia’s pension scheme and in so doing has threatened to blow the budget by $8 billion over four years.

Less than twenty-fours hours later the Shadow Minister for Retirement Incomes and Savings, Senator Nick Sherry, was forced to correct the confusion caused by his leader’s bungle.

Mr Latham claimed during his speech on superannuation that Labor would ensure that the age pension would not fall below 25% of Male Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings.

Applying this index resulted in Mr Latham making an $8 billion error in his pensions policy and the Opposition’s forced correction when the Government found the mistake.

This “definitional” error would have cost almost $17 billion if applied to all pensions currently linked to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings.

As the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have pointed out the devil will be in Labor’s policy detail. Labor must do its homework before announcing new policy.

Labor’s superannuation policy lasted one day. Pensioners have a right to be concerned about Labor’s $8 billion “super blooper” which confirms taxpayers’ fears about their competence and ability to get key policy details correct.