The Government could act by enhancing enforcement to combat this abuse, and if necessary, change the law to facilitate enforcement. Adequacy for women is in need of urgent review. There has to be more thought about how women can catch up with their super given their broken works patterns and lower incomes. Australia has one of the least generous maternity schemes among developed countries. Unpaid maternity leave, with the attendant loss of super contributions, is a major contributing factor to women’s lower super savings. In the absence of a paid maternity leave scheme, AIST recommends the Government top up the super accounts of new mothers with a ‘Super Baby Bonus’.
Minister Sherry is to be congratulated on his recent initiative to amalgamate lost super accounts. However AIST urges caution and industry consultation as there can be good reasons for members to maintain two or even more separate accounts. New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in January show that that while average super balances have increased in recent years, there remains an enormous gap between the lifestyle expectations of those who are about to retire and their likely retirement income.
Spruikers of superannuation products constantly bombard us with images of retired couples frolicking along the beach and living a carefree high life. Unless the industry and government can come up with better targeted superannuation policies, retirement will be far from carefree for the vast majority of Australians including those young enough to think they have plenty of time on their side.