Cox says a major issue with raising the SG is that it will force a cohort of the community to save who cannot in fact afford to save.

“You’re asking low-income people to save for their retirement,” she says. “Can we stop sort of acting as though somehow or other the rest of life is preparation for retirement? We actually live for a lot longer doing a variety of things than we do when we retire, but there’s this sort of magical fantasy that, you know, that at retirement you will have enough money to do all of those things you’ve deprived yourself of earlier in life.

“People need money for housing, and quite frankly, you know we’ve got 69 per cent home ownership or potential home ownership there. That leaves a lot of people out of it – and that will increase, because younger people are having more and more difficulty getting into highly difficult housing markets.”

Cox says the tax concessions that go to high-income earners could be productively directed elsewhere.

“The amount of money that we spend on the superannuation tax concessions is… growing to the point [that] it’s more than we actually spend on the Age Pension,” Cox says.

“You know, we’re talking about $30 billion in tax concessions and we’re talking about 34 per cent of that going into the top 5 per cent of income earners. Nick, I think if we actually knocked them out of the system, that would give us another 10 billion dollars to put into funding much better retirement things for the people at the bottom end that haven’t got it.

“This is one of the points that has bugged me from the feminist viewpoint for a very long time: there is no outcome difference between a tax expenditure and a welfare payment. The outcome is exactly the same for the Budget. Yet, I have sat around for years with men in suits at tables who’ve told me they’re entitled to tax expenditures, but nobody’s entitled to welfare.

“I would like us working together to set up a fund which has a fair tax system where everybody contributes, and gets concessions at a reasonable rate. And I would like to see it actually covering things like time out of the workforce for having kids; I’d like to see it covering housing; I’d like to see it covering various other life crises so that you actually can live your life before you get to the final stage like that. And I think we also need an acknowledgement that, even if it goes up to 12 per cent and 15 per cent – there’ll be a large proportion of the population that still will not be independent.

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