The Government’s response to the ‘A Husband is Not a Retirement Plan’ report represents an abysmal failure to boost the inadequate retirement savings of women, according to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).
The report, a result of a Senate inquiry into economic security for women in retirement, made 19 recommendations intended to help women increase their participation in the workforce and improve their superannuation savings.
The report found that women’s low superannuation balances at retirement are the result of multiple factors, including, but not limited to: the gender pay gap; women having more breaks in their career for family and other reasons; and women representing a higher proportion of the part-time workforce than men.
While the report was delivered in April 2016, the Government response to the findings was only delivered last week.
Some of the recommendations in the initial report included removing the $450 minimum earning threshold, paying superannuation on parental leave payments, accelerating the increase of the super guarantee to 12 per cent, increasing paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26, fixing means-testing of the pension, making tax on super contributions fairer and ensuring tax concessions benefit low income earners.
None of these recommendations were taken up in the Government’s response, preferring instead to extend the spouse offset for superannuation contributions as the preferred method to address the unfairness in the current system.
The 2017 Per Capita report ‘Not So Super for Women’ found that women retire with 47 per cent less super than men and that structural reform, not band aids and expressions of sentiment, is desperately needed to ensure Australian women are not retiring into poverty.
ACTU President Michele O’Neil said the Government response was inadequate.
“Working women have the same right to a dignified retirement as men. But we retire $100,000 worse off under our current system,” Ms O’Neil explained.
“It’s an indictment on Kelly O’Dwyer and her government that their response has been to extend the spousal offset, cementing their view that a husband is an appropriate retirement plan.
“The Turnbull Government can fix this by implementing the recommendations of this report. But Kelly O’Dwyer and the Turnbull Government have decided to ignore the most crucial recommendations of the report, leaving women to retire in poverty.
“This is irresponsible and negligent. We will continue to campaign for meaningful change that secures a dignified retirement for working women.”
What do you think the Government should do to address the inequality in the superannuation system?