The Opposition owes it to the State's public servants, and to the wider community, to explain its superannuation policy, Minister assisting the Treasurer Geoff Gallop told Parliament last night.
Dr Gallop said the Opposition's claims that it would have to raise taxes to pay for the scheme's unfunded liabilities were absolute rubbish.
"The Opposition is apparently referring to the Government's current liability for superannuation of nearly $4.2 billion," he said.
"It is scandalous that such criticism should be made by an Opposition which in its years in office did nothing to reduce the State's liability for superannuation.
"The Opposition describes the unfunded liability as large. But it should be noted that it is nowhere near as large as it was, in real terms, under the former conservative government.
"Nor is it anywhere near as large as it would have grown to under the pension scheme inherited by the Labor Government in 1983."
Under that scheme, the State's liability would have grown to around $7 billion by 1988, and to more than $8.5 billion in 1990, Dr Gallop said.
"The Labor Government's introduction of the new lump sum scheme has therefore halved the State's liability.
"But the current liability is no cause for the sort of alarm we are hearing from the Opposition.
"The Opposition's arguments are not only emotive, they are wrong."
Dr Gallop said the size of the liability reflected the traditional approach of successive State Governments in funding their superannuation obligations.
"Most major public sector schemes throughout Australia are traditionally largely unfunded, as is Western Australia's," he said.
"This means that employer contributions are, by convention, not paid concurrently with those of employees, but are paid when the benefits emerge.
"Having said that, it is important to note that the scheme is being funded concurrently by non-Consolidated Revenue Fund agencies.
"The sorts of changes being signalled by the Opposition could lead to the situation in New South Wales, where the Liberal Government's contributory superannuation scheme is not being made available to newly recruited public servants."