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Beware the wounded senior

By Graham Young - posted Thursday, 14 March 2019

Thirty-eight per cent of One Nation/Australian Conservatives voters expected to be comfortable, versus 32 who didn’t. Among minor parties the result was 38 per cent each. This will factor into preference allocation.

When we asked people about their preferred form of retirement savings, Australians put the family home above all else.

Seventy-four per cent nominated it as their first choice for ­retirement savings. It was followed by superannuation, then cash. Real estate, managed investments and shares were next. Last was owning a business.


That means policies that hurt real estate are likely to be more dangerous for Labor than those that touch superannuation.

Those policies are negative gearing and capital gains tax, which don’t impinge on owner-­occupied housing but do affect the housing market generally.

Labor is ahead of the Coalition on negative gearing but only just, by 40 per cent to 37 per cent.

Labor’s pitch for fairness works here. Negative gearing is seen as a sop to the rich, with the word “rort” appearing frequently.

It appears to be this emotional appeal, more than housing affordability, which is driving its support.

Arguments against abolishing negative gearing include it will penalise owners by lowering house prices, penalise renters by increasing rents and jeopardise the retirement savings of those who have chosen housing ahead of super as a savings vehicle.


When it comes to capital gains, the Coalition is ahead. Labor would increase the tax by 50 per cent, which means 75 per cent of an asset will be subject to capital gains tax. Forty-one per cent supported the Coalition versus 34 per cent Labor. The arguments against Labor’s proposal were concentrated on the effect it might have on the economy and savings, the thought the tax is already too high, and a belief Labor will squander the proceeds. Those who favoured increasing the tax saw capital gains as an unearned windfall for the wealthy, a blunder by John Howard, robbing the government of money needed elsewhere. For those who believe taxation needs to be increased, this is a relatively painless way of doing it.

Only a small minority of Australians own shares either directly or through self-managed superannuation, so the electoral impact of Labor’s franking credits changes is likely to be less. The Coalition received 42 per cent support on the issue to Labor’s 31 per cent.

If the Coalition is thinking about opposing the increase in super to 15 per cent it should think again. That was the only proposition that got majority support, with 53 per cent supporting and only 21 per cent opposing.

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This article was first published in The Australian.

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About the Author

Graham Young is chief editor and the publisher of On Line Opinion. He is executive director of the Australian Institute for Progress, an Australian think tank based in Brisbane, and the publisher of On Line Opinion.

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