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Karl Stefanovic clashes with Bill Shorten over proposed superannuation shakeup

An enthusiastic Karl Stefanovic slammed Bill Shorten for Labor’s push to increase taxation of retirement contributions and restrict early access to funds.

The Today presenter clashed with the Minister for Government Services on Friday, accusing the government of effectively introducing a ‘new tax’ on high earners.

He was angered by reports that the government is considering restricting the tax breaks that are available to those with retirement balances of more than $3 million.

The proposal is among several changes the Labor government is considering after it launched a consultation on reform of retirement savings laws this week.

An enthusiastic Karl Stefanovic has criticized Bill Shorten over a proposal to introduce massive retirement reforms.

Addressing a bee-themed conference on Thursday, Deputy Treasurer Stephen Jones compared the government’s proposal to reduce the number of Australians withdrawing their super early to handling ‘honey’ in the best interests of a ‘hive’ ‘.

‘In the self-managed sector, there are over 600,000 funds that have about $870 billion in retirement savings, that’s a lot of honey. We want to make sure there is plenty of honey for everyone.’

Stefanovic disagreed with the comparison and compared the metaphor to communism, where the collective is prioritized over individual wealth.

“I didn’t realize that our super honey was for the collective, comrade,” he joked.

The Today presenter also said Mr Jones’s comments all but confirmed reports of impending changes to the super regulations.

Those reports indicated the government was seeking to stop the wealthy from getting significant tax breaks by putting large sums into their retirement funds rather than taking it as income, in which case it would be subject to much higher tax rates.

“He confirmed that the government is looking to impose higher taxes on funds over $3 million, just in case, someone missed the bee buzz, that’s a new tax, isn’t it?” he said.

Australians can deposit up to $27,500 a year into their super and pay a favorable tax rate of just 15 per cent if they earn up to $250,000 a year.

This grant costs $53 billion a year, and the wealthiest Australians invest money in super paying a favorable rate that is well below the 45 per cent marginal tax rate applied to income received by those earning more than $ 180,000.

Shorten defended the proposed reforms.

‘Do you think it’s right that people who go to work every day pay their taxes, should they pay their taxes to give a concession to someone who has several million dollars in their account?’ he said.

‘There are about one percent of people who have more than $3 million in retirement. The average for this group of people is $5.8 million,’ she said.

“I was raising the question, should taxpayers subsidize someone who already has almost $6 million in their retirement account?”

3AW presenter Neil Mitchell sided with Stefanovic, calling the proposal “class warfare”.

‘It’s a new tax, come on Bill, it’s a new tax, isn’t it? Aren’t you going to try turning that one around? he said.

Shorten defended the decision by questioning whether it was fair for taxpayers to subsidize high earners.

Shorten defended the decision by questioning whether it was fair for taxpayers to subsidize high earners.

Shorten shot and stabbed Mitchell for his comment.

First of all Neil. I’m glad she stepped up to defend people with $6 million in their retirement account,” he said.

“The fact is that we said in the last elections that we want to legislate the goal of retirement.”

Mitchell applauded the idea that people with high incomes should have their retirement taxed at a higher rate.

‘These horrible people who have been successful enough to get money into their super account. What horrible people succeed,” she said.

Stefanovic said it amounted to a broken election promise after Labor said there would be no significant change to supermarket arrangements.

However, Shorten said he was not confirming that the tax concession cap would be approved and that it was still in the discussion stage.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers seemed to suggest Wednesday that the tax and early access changes would hardly be sweeping.

“We are not contemplating major changes in retirement,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“We think there should still be generous tax breaks for people to save for retirement.”