Bill Shorten

“Small business is about the real world,” Strong says. “And most small business owners, when they went into business, did not expect to become administrators for the Government and the superannuation industry. It’s difficult enough to run a small business without that burden and distraction.

“When we’re talking about superannuation we’ve got to make sure we don’t wear the cost – or if we do, it’s compensated, and that we don’t wear time-cost, and confusion,” Strong says.

“And there’s a way of doing that…as you may have heard: putting it in the tax system, rather than putting the onus upon the employers to do the collection and distribution of the money.

“The fact that small business collects money from large, multi-billion-dollar national financial institutions, and we do it for nothing, is amazing. And we’re forced to do it, by Government. It’s amazing, and we’re fined it we don’t.

“Everybody else in the system gets paid – everybody. The directors of super funds, in some cases we don’t know how much they get paid, but they get paid is my understanding. The paymasters of big companies, people in Treasury, people in finance, people in the Tax Office – they all get paid. But the [small businesswoman] on the Sunday morning, collecting the super, taking those four hours once a month, or once a quarter, doesn’t get paid, and it’s wrong.”

Strong’s proposal to remove the superannuation compliance burden from small business has the support of Nicholas Gruen, chief executive of Lateral Economics.

“Peter was making his point with regard to a sort of fairness idea: why ask employers to do this?” Gruen says.

“You could say exactly the same thing about income tax – and FBT [Fringe Benefits Tax] and all the rest of it. Those things embody certain kinds of social and political compromises, but I’m actually quite sympathetic to what you’ve said, because the criterion for me is not some kind of Olympian fairness, but economic efficiency, and I would imagine that what you’re suggesting is more economically efficient

“Now, I haven’t looked into it, but [I have] watched the nice idea of super choice be implemented with complete disregard for the way people actually function cognitively. There are lots of opportunities here, I think, for the Government, in trying to quite explicitly say: ‘We know people’s lives are too complicated. We know they resent that, it’s not all that easy to fix it up, because we live in a complicated world, but we can do some quite reasonable programmatic things to make things better’.

Join the discussion