Tuesday, 9 May 2022
Aware Super has welcomed measures in the Federal Budget to improve transparency and fairness in the superannuation system and support Australians struggling with rising living costs.
Far more work is still required, however, to overcome the systemic issues that contribute to gender inequity in the system and consign many Australian women to severe financial hardship in retirement, the fund says.
Aware Super, which has more than 700,000 women among its 1.1 million members, said it was disappointing that paying super on paid parental leave had again been consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket, and other low-hanging fruit to improve gender equity had also been left untouched.
Aware Super’s Chief Executive Officer, Deanne Stewart, said several measures being rolled out by the Federal Government would nonetheless strengthen and help ensure the sustainability of the super system.
“On balance, this is a positive and welcome Budget – we just would have loved to see the Government grasp the nettle on some other much-needed reforms,” Ms Stewart said.
”We’re pleased the Australian Taxation Office will be given more resources to tackle the scourge of unpaid super and help with the recovery of payments owed to workers.
”Coupled with the introduction of the rules requiring all employers to pay super at the same time as they pay wages – an important transparency measure – this will help ensure Australian workers aren’t deprived of important retirement savings they’re owed and are better placed to keep tabs on their super payments.”
The higher earnings tax on super balances in excess of $3 million would help ensure sustainability and fairness remained central to the system, but ideally the Budget would have directed part of that revenue to helping fund super on paid parental leave and other measures to improve equity, Ms Stewart said.
“Women are still wrestling with a stubbornly high gender pay gap of 13.3%, and that gap blows out dramatically when it comes to superannuation balances at retirement – to around 30%. As a nation, we should be seizing every opportunity we can to address this.
“Paying superannuation guarantee contributions on paid parental leave is overdue. Women still shoulder a disproportionate share of caring responsibilities in families and often take time out of the workforce to do so. This is one of the key reasons the gender super gap is so much bigger than the gender pay gap, and super on paid parental leave will help with this.
“Raising the low income super tax offset (LISTO) is another step we’d urge the Government to take, as is continuing efforts to make childcare affordable and accessible to maximise workforce participation.
“We’d dearly like to see this Government implement a comprehensive gender-equity strategy to support women right through their working years and into retirement, rather than the piecemeal approach governments have used historically.
“The Government’s efforts to ease the cost-of-living pressures buffeting Australian families are important and commendable, but they needn’t come at the expense of addressing gender inequity.
“All in all, the Budget gets a tick from us – just with the caveat of ‘more reform needed’. On behalf of all our members, we’ll keep pushing for more initiatives to further strengthen the super system and ensure it can help all Australian workers achieve their best possible retirement.”