Women in Super is urging the future government to focus on the critical issue of improving women’s retirement outcomes.

The organisation’s chief executive Sandra Buckley says it is imperative that something is done sooner rather than later to change the current superannuation system and to ensure it is updated to suit modern working practices.

Otherwise, she goes on to say, future generations of women will be condemned to the same outcome as the current cohort of soon to retire and retired women who are facing economic insecurity in retirement or worse, poverty.

“We need to address the structural inequities in the system and re-balance the super tax concessions so they are better targeted to those who are struggling to accumulate super,” she adds.

“Namely, lower income earning Australians. One in two working women in Australia currently earns less than $37,000 per annum and they receive no superannuation tax concession for saving for retirement.

“We are in the midst of a crisis with more women than ever in their late 40s to early 50s facing impoverishment in retirement and yet again this issue is overlooked.”

Buckley’s comments come just as the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Bill Shorten opened their election campaign for a May 18 poll.

The WIS chief noted Labor’s commitment to conducting a review of the current superannuation system if elected.

“Otherwise, we can only hope that the Liberals will remember that 50 per cent of our population is female and that they will prioritise addressing the structural issues in order to update what could be a world class superannuation system so that it meets the needs of all Australians – men and women.”

Buckley sees it as “extremely disappointing” that the 2019 budget handed down by Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier this month did not focus on removing the major structural inequities in the system.

“While tax cuts, committing to increasing the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent, and widening the rules on additional voluntary contributions may seem positive moves for super, these are simply out of reach for the majority of working women (and men) and more importantly, are not well targeted nor sustainable.

“It is disappointing that yet again the Federal Government commits to spending additional money on increasing superannuation tax concessions that benefit a minority whilst there are no superannuation tax concessions for those in the lowest income groups.”

WIS, which recently celebrated 25 years, is also calling for structural reforms to include removal of the $450 monthly threshold before the SG is payable so that all Australians have access to superannuation and a dignified retirement. And not just the lucky minority.

“This is simply unfair, unsustainable and inefficient. We know that many women work multiple jobs and earn over $450 a month yet this measure acts directly to lock them out of the superannuation system.”

Recent research undertaken by Rice Warner for Women in Super shows that less than one in four older workers made voluntary contributions. Their average extra payments were only around $7000, indicating that most Australians simply don’t have excess cash to contribute to their super.

 

 

 

Elizabeth Fry has been a financial journalist for more than 25 years and has written for a number of publications, including CFO, The Financial Times and The Australian Financial Review.