The government has rejected nearly all of a Senate committee's recommendations aimed at improving women’s retirement savings, a move that has been criticised by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees.
On 29 April 2016, the Senate Economics References Committee presented a report to government outlining reforms that would improve women’s superannuation savings at retirement.
The report, titled A husband is not a retirement plan: Achieving economic security for women in retirement, put forward 19 recommendations to the government in total, including the extension of paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks, the abolishment of the $450 threshold and raising the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent ahead of schedule.
The government issued its response the committee’s report on 16 August 2018 which stated that it agreed or agreed “in part” to four recommendations, disagreed with two and “noted” 13.
In “noting” the recommendations, the government cited its own work in improving women’s retirement savings, such as extending the spouse tax offset amount for superannuation contributions from $13,800 to $40,000, and allowing members with low super balances to ‘catch up’ on their super by tapping into unused parts of their concessional contributions caps.
However, speaking to InvestorDaily, AIST chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said the committee’s recommendations that would have made the most difference to women would have been raising the super guarantee, removing the $450 threshold, and paying superannuation on all forms of parental leave.
“The government is spruiking a response that relies on individuals (husbands) fixing the super gender gap. This is absurd,” Ms Scheerlinck said.
“The problem is not the fault of individual women and the government should not expect individual women (or their husbands, if they have them) to fix it.”
In a statement, she added: “Extending the spouse offset and allowing higher catch up contributions will do nothing to help ordinary working women who may not have the spare cash to put more into super, nor will it do anything to help divorced and single women who experience some of the poorest outcomes in retirement.”
Ms Scheerlinck also observed that it had taken the government two years to respond to the committee’s report.
According to research commissioned by AustralianSuper and Cbus Super, many Australian workers have been excluded from the superannuation system because of the rise in non-traditional forms of work, women in particular.
In July, Roy Morgan published research that found there had been “no real progress” in closing the gender gap in superannuation in the last decade.
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