The free-market think tank Institute of Public Affairs is preparing to campaign against the budget measures, which include capping at $1.6 million the tax-free balance of retirement accounts.
Any excess would have to be put into other investments or treated as superannuation in the accumulation phase and taxed at 15 per cent.
A second measure, which came into effect immediately on budget night, was a $500,000 lifetime cap on non-concessional contributions, backdated to 2007.
Critics say the government is applying the changes retrospectively.
Not so, says Malcolm Turnbull who was forced to defend the changes while campaigning in the marginal western Sydney seat of Lindsay on Wednesday.
“Very, very clear. It is not retrospective at all,” he told reporters.
The prime minister insisted only one per cent of the population – those on high-incomes would be affected by the cap – while four per cent would be impacted by other changes.
“I’ve got to stress this: these changes that we’ve made to super are designed to make it fairer and more flexible,” Turnbull said.
Earlier Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government would stand by the changes.
Treasurer Scott Morrison insisted the changes were not taxing any income people had earned in the past.
“All we’re doing is changing how much tax people will pay in the future, on earnings they make in the future,” he told reporters in Launceston as he campaigned for Bass MP Andrew Nikolic.
Former deputy prime minister Mark Vaile, a director of the Hostplus SuperFund, said retrospectivity would never have been contemplated during his time in the Howard government.
“Superannuation has just become an issue which is tampered with too much and people can’t keep up with the changes,” he said.
The IPA’s executive director John Roskam said emails had been flowing in from members, furious about the proposed changes.
“Phrases that people have used with me include disappointed, devastated, white hot with anger,” he told ABC radio.
“For the government to pretend these changes are not retrospective flies in the face of common sense, flies in the face of all legal analysis.”
Labor says it’s clear the provisions are retrospective.
“When the start date is July 2007, that’s a pretty strong starting point on retrospectivity,” opposition finance spokesman Tony Burke said.
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