But the impact on the overall superannuation funds available for people’s retirement will be great. For many lower-paid members of our not-for-profit funds, the tax on their superannuation contributions (15 per cent) will be effectively scrapped. This will greatly assist over the long-term because every dollar that they put into super can begin earning from day one of their working lives. The “compound interest” effect of this reform for the final retirement benefit of these people is huge. And for those workers, particularly women who are now in their 50s and are hurrying to catch up after a lifetime of broken work patterns and lower wages, the commitment to allow them to put up to $50,000 a year into their super (up to $500,000) through salary sacrificing will be a great relief to many.

AIST has campaigned long and hard to give this group of workers – people such as nurses, teachers and middle management – an opportunity to save quickly for their retirement. It has also campaigned hard to get the super guarantee rate to 15 per cent, so we’ve still got some distance to go. But the move to 12 per cent has restored Australia’s place as an innovative global laboratory of progressive and sensible social reforms. This time around, amid the brickbats it’s copping from the mining industry lobbyists, the government deserves to take a bow and its policy deserves bipartisan support.

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