Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has urged the government to address gender inequality in the super system at the coming federal budget by scrapping the minimum earnings threshold for contributions, which could have a dramatic effect on women’s super balances.
Addressing the AIOFP conference in Hobart on Wednesday, senator Jacqui Lambie said the government needed to “change the rules of the game” when it came to saving for retirement to make the system fairer for women.
Reflecting on her own experience relying on super for hardship purposes after being discharged from the army with an injury, Senator Lambie said women were badly in need of a retirement nest egg to fall back on but were often discounted from the system due to working odd hours while raising a family.
“The solution for most women isn’t going to be to run for Parliament – the solution is to stop them from getting to that point in the first place and to give them support if something goes wrong,” Ms Lambie said.
“We need to change the rules of the game so that it’s fairer for women, and the Treasurer can start doing that right away when he hands down the budget next month. There are two things to focus on – helping women save when they’re working and putting them back on their feet when something goes wrong.”
Senator Lambie said the easiest way to boost women’s super accounts was by scrapping the current earnings threshold for contributions, which restricted those who earned less than $450 a week in a job from getting super payments.
“The simplest way to help women save more is to get rid of the stupid rule that says employers don’t have to pay super to workers who make less than $450 a month, which is mostly women,” she said.
“Women are more likely to be working a few jobs to make ends meet, and randomly cutting them off from super makes no sense.
“Why would a woman who works a few shifts a month at a cafeteria miss out on getting that extra bit of money? If she had a few odd jobs she could be making as much or more than a bloke who earns minimum wage in one full time gig, but for some reason he gets super on all his money while she might get nothing at all.”
Senator Lambie said scrapping the earnings threshold would have an immediate and dramatic effect on the super balances of women.
“Plugging that gap is an easy fix – that would put nearly $5 million into women’s super accounts every month,” she said.