Senate inquiry to address the gender superannuation gap

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Australian women, on average, retire with approximately half the retirement savings of men. The most recent statistics from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia show that in 2011–12 the average superannuation balance for women at retirement was $105,000, while for men it was $197,000. This equates to a gender retirement superannuation gap of 46.6 per cent.

However, a Senate inquiry into improving the finances of retired women is underway. On 17 August 2015, the Senate referred the matter of economic security for women in retirement to the Economics References Committee (ERC).

The Senate noted that despite the increased participation of women in the workforce, there remains a significant socio-economic disparity between men and women, with a pay gap of 18.8 per cent and a superannuation gap of 46.6 per cent. While the ERC acknowledged that the average superannuation balance at retirement is too low for both women and men and should be resolved, women are bearing the brunt of this financial hardship.

A combination of factors all contribute to women having less money to live on in their later years: these include having a higher life expectancy, spending more time in unpaid caring roles, taking time off work during prime working years to produce children, and having a higher likelihood of taking on part-time and casual work. As a result of the gender pay gap, women account for over half (58.3 per cent) those receiving the Age Pension. According to a Australian Human Rights Commission report, Accumulating poverty? Women’s experiences of inequality over the lifecycle, single women are also more likely than men to rely on the full Age Pension for income.

The inquiry has received 89 submissions and finished public hearings on Friday. It is set to report by 29 April 2016. As detailed on the Parliament of Australia website, particular reference will be given to:

  1. the impact inadequate superannuation savings has on the retirement outcomes for women,
  2. the extent of the gender retirement income gap and causes of this gap, and its potential drivers including the gender pay gap and women’s caring responsibilities,
  3. whether there are any structural impediments in the superannuation system [impacting on the superannuation savings gap],
  4. the adequacy of the main sources of retirement income for women, and
  5. what measures would provide women with access to adequate and secure retirement incomes; including:
    1. assistance to employers to assist female employees’ superannuation savings,
    2. Government assistance, with reference to the success of previous schemes, and
    3. any possible reforms to current laws relating to superannuation, social security payments, paid parental leave, discrimination, or any other relevant measure.

You can download the full Issues Paper about the inquiry at aph.gov.au.

Opinion: Finally, some real action

Over May 2015, the Westpac bank released a report which stated that a woman earning $53,700 per year would need to work until the age of 74 to retire with as much super as the average Australian man.

In the last year it has been encouraging to see an increased focus on the gender pay gap and the superannuation disparity. In July last year the ANZ bank introduced its free financial advice service for women who have less than $50,000 in super. Additionally, some politicians including Greens MP Adam Bandt, have been fighting to push through legislation to allow employers to boost superannuation payments to female employees.

What we really need to see are strong policies to help give women the financial boost they require in order to live comfortably, especially in retirement.

This inquiry into the economic security for women in retirement is a strong indication that politicians and governing bodies are finally willing to work actively to rectify the gender superannuation gap. The inquiry will look at the facts and figures and assess the extent to which the pay gap affects women and their families. Most significantly, the inquiry will analyse any structural impediments in the superannuation system and address how these can be fixed.

This inquiry is sure to be a huge undertaking and it is likely to be some time before any real action can be implemented because they’ll want to turn over every stone first. However, this focus on women’s financial comfort and independence gives us all good reason to hope for better things.

Do you feel the gender pay gap has an effect on your life? Does the Senate inquiry into the economic security for women in retirement give you hope? What policies would you like to see come out it?

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Written by ameliath

121 Comments

Total Comments: 121
  1. 0
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    Here we go again. The ‘poor woman’ lament!
    I guess what is coming next is that women will be paid to have children, have their jobs kept open for them as they have a family, and get a promotion over their male counterparts who do not leave the workforce. This is what many women call fairness.
    OK, I see the issue. The solution: men to have babies in future.
    I also see who the author is of this piece. What a surprise! Ho hum.
    This is not an issue about ‘fairness’. It is an issue about gender.

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      misogynist mick, please get a grip.

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      Yes mick, the problem is the women themselves and the poor choices they make.

      If they just married a guy with a good paying job and good prospects, the future would take care of itself.

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      Polly ir is misandrist to consider any changes without considering discrimination against men. Discrimination against men seems culturally endorsed particularly if it favours women.

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      I quite expected to be mauled.
      It never ceases to amaze me how self interest gets in the way of the facts and fairness. The issue may not be palatable but there are always reasons….which are ignored if they do not fit the model.
      As far as being a misogynist….well I do not hate women Polly. A cheap shot. What I find particularly obnoxious is that fairness frequently is missing. Don’t get me started about men being fair game!

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      I’d like to add to your mauling mick, you left out that women should be paid Jobstart while they are off having children and employers who have to keep their job open must have Jobstart topped up to the wage they were receiving until they choose to return.

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      Being serious, it is almost impossible to have men and women equal in all cases for the following reasons:
      1. Some women choose to stop work to have children.
      2. Some women choose to stay home and raise children.
      3. Some women choose to work part time.
      4. Some women only return to the fulltime workforce when their children have become adult.
      This means that either no super or limited super is attracted and, sadly, if super is not paid, it cannot be accumulated.

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      yes misogynist mick, do get a grip. And MYGheater, life doesn’t always work out that way. AS much as many of women would like to wait until that right person comes along. but often we could miss out on having children, and many of us have worked hard straight after having children. REally do becareful of what you say.
      Old man, that would have been a good idea, paid jobstart in between, so i could have even bonded with my child. She may have not hated me so much cause i wasn’t there for her then!!!!
      Instead i had to work, because the shameful brute never gave me much money for anything, he was spending UP BIG on motorbikes and such. and i still had to fight for every penny to pay the bills, and i went without a lot of things……
      TIMES have NOt changed much.
      WE women are still being treated like slaves!

  2. 0
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    “Additionally, some politicians including Greens MP Adam Bandt, have been fighting to push through legislation to allow employers to boost superannuation payments to female employees.”
    Why does this act of generosity require legislative change? What is wrong with employers increasing contributions to female employees?

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      What is wrong indeed? Thank you Frank.

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      What is wrong with putting a young woman today putting in the price of a cup of coffee extra/or maybe even two. . In my day we made it at work ourselves. There is a lot of money wasted on miscellanous purchases which could be put to better use and would not even be missed I am sure.

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      What happened to gender equality, we are either equal or we are not.

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      mick, would you be sayin that the PC in our current legislation prevents such discrimination?

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      How can an employee be required to put in more superannuation for a female than they del for a man. Is a man on the same salary as a woman, thus aggrieved.

      This seems like another solution based on discredited figures on wage gap and superannuation, and subsidising women’s inadequacies.

      Apart from that if women live longer they inherit all of their partners superannuation. The grey rinse set make up about 80% of all world travel expenditure, spending the husband’s super.

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      Gillham, you may have a point? Especially when considering most people die with more than 50% of their super being paid to beneficiaries.

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      gillham,

      Your final comment “spending the husband’s super” is the crux of the problem.

      They are spending their husband’s super as they have less super of their own because they earned less during their working lives.

      They have less because of wage inequality, time out having children, part time work when children were young, etc.

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      Mygasheater, they spend their husband’s super plus their own.

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      mick and gillham,

      If you are interested in the state of wage equality in contempory Australia, the following link may be informative.

      https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

      Do a copy and paste into your browser.

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      Myasheater, Thank you. The main problem being if you contract to the Government and want the next contract, your report reflects what the Government wants to hear, and is made very clear to you in the tendering process.

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      Frank: are you posting under my name again?
      Wage inequality: please explain WHY there is wage inequality. There seems to be a reluctance to discuss the problem….that women often flit in and out of the workforce to have children. Sorry but gender is the issue and no amount of unfair super top ups or artificial pay increases can mask the fact that not being at your job constantly is indeed the problem. So why belly ache about perceived unfairnesses?

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      gillham,

      You’ve lost me, what has tendering for government contracts got to with gender wage differences?

    • 0
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      mick,

      If only men were allowed to take responsibility for birth control, there would be no way “that women often flit in and out of the workforce to have children”.

      Oh, for “the good old days” before The Pill, when a postcard from Paris was OK but a French letter was something different altogether.

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      If that were the case mick, then yer’d be talkin’ ter yerself.

      I keep hearing about women getting paid less than me but I have never seen an actual example.
      I did hear about some female actors complaining they were getting less. Not sure I understand how that can be when a contract for service determines the actors pay? I would think that if they wanted $20m why not ask?

  3. 0
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    This post states women and men, then proceeds to women with children and raising the children.
    There are single women and men to this there can be a direct comparison, for the other you would have to combine both superanuation funds then divide by two to get the real situation.
    My understanding of being in a coupled relationship and with children that it is a shared earnings,expences etc. Tell, how there is a disconnect with superanuation, is it gender bias or is it that someone is out of or in reduced employment.
    When there is a separation/divorce this is what is happening now, superanution split.
    The Pension is the most Divisive when you talk about maried couple’s/partenerd compare to single’s.
    Will anything come of it probably not, what is fair and reasonable would be to make direct comparison’s.

  4. 0
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    Mick, all I can say is you need a good slap (perhaps your wife can oblige me!)
    I am in my seventies, raised children with one man (husband) had no access to Super, because of his job I did not work, had no idea what was in our bank account, after 25yrs he decided to go it alone! I had to clean toilets to finish bringing up children at high school. You cannot make sweeping statements like you do. You are so smug!!

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      I’m waiting with bated breath for all the “free” advice, no, suggestions from our “financial adviser” Bonny, where are you this morning?

    • 0
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      Dizzy, I think it might be too late to appeal to Mick’s wife. I suspect she removed herself long ago. That would explain his unreasonable bitterness to all women. He makes so much sense sometimes with other topics but is totally unreasonable when it comes to admitting that in many areas women have received a raw deal. Sure, not every woman. And of course there are men who have had it rough, but he can’t seem to see that in many ways in general women have been disadvantaged. I suspect YLC raises the men/women divide every time they think this site needs more controversy.

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      Well said Happy Cyclist. Without reading all the posts, I know what some of the contributors will say. However,gone are the days when having a man was the only financial plan a woman needed (if it ever existed). I welcome an enquiry and hopefully some positive outcomes.

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      Dizzy I have no intention of being personal, but marriage is a partnership? Is it not? You an hubby get a divorce and split assets? Why are you the one hard done by?

    • 0
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      Frank, Dizzy is hard done by through the fact that his wife will receive a greater split than he will.

      And if the wife gets 1/2 or more of his assets, WHAT IS SHE COMPLAINING ABOUT; aka the topic of this article

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      I need to start thinking outside the dots. 🙁 Gillham, you think Dizzy is also a man? If so how does he benefit from women getting an increase in their employer super contribution?

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      The difference is Frank , that if it were 2 men separating they’d get about 30% ea on separation which would leave 40% to go to Government coffers, (or to benefit some female charity).

      To answer your question: men never benefit from anything women get, women see to that. Superannuation? If it’s a same total package pay wise then I do not care how women split it. They can already choose to make larger contribution than the 9%. But f women get a separate top up that is discrimination. Just like all the other discriminatory benefits to women, when the Sex Discrimination Act , generated at the behest of women, is waived.

      There has NEVER been a waiver in favour of men.

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      You obviously did it hard Dizzy. So have many men. More than a few were skinned of everything they own, including the family home, by the courts.
      If we put things into perspective then arguments will be for and against rather than the one sided view from those who always want more.
      Maybe Malcolm will make some election promises. A good time to get what you want.

    • 0
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      Dizzy, that was mick posting under the name Frank.

  5. 0
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    A man has to be responsible for the money on the table from the minute he takes a wife, no matter what. A woman can leave the workforce whenever we are sick of it, whenever we have kids, we can rely on the male breadwinner while we do other things. But the man has to stump up the money every week – pay those bills and keep the wife’s demands (and there are plenty of those these days) up to scratch. That’s a very big responsibility that never ends until their kids are grown up, and then some. So can we please have some more columns that see the male point of view because to be quite frank, my gender has become a whining, complaining industry. We can’t have it all. We never could. We had different lives because we are different. If we want it all, and all at once, we should not get married, not have children and look after ourselves by being independent of a man. Just stop leaning on men for convenience. Thank you. (And don’t say I am not a woman. I’m willing for the author to contact me directly by email for my phone number to confirm once and for all, that I definitely am female and a fed up one at that).

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      Brissiegirl — what century are you living in? You are certainly very confused about the realities of the 21st century.

    • 0
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      Brissiegirl,I think you are spot on.

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      Yes, you are spot on Brissiegirl. Those who championed that we could have it all were wrong in my opinion.

      We see what is happening in society with women “who want it all”.

      I feel very sorry for a great many men today.

    • 0
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      Absolutely spot on Brissiegirl.

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      BRISSIEGIRL FOR PRESIDENT

      Very well put.
      I was one such breadwinner in a traditional single income family, and we went without a lot of things to provide a good home to our two sons. Now they are grown up, and it took them both until their late twenties to finally secure full-time permanent employment because all the jobs have been snaffled up by the greedy two-income families, who never stop whining and wanting more.
      Now I am being made to feel guilty because I provided for my wife instead of sending her out to work to steal a job from somebody else and putting them on the dole. What sort of world are we living in these days?

    • 0
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      and your very lucky you never got my husband Brissiegirl, cause he would have abused you in everyway possible…….AREn’t you the lucky one!!!

  6. 0
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    Well here we go. Another chestnut to waste public money on.

    Firstly I do not believe the wage gap is 18.8%, nor that women have 1/2 the superannuation of men.

    With a tainted education system that sees females culpably better educated than men, women have no excuse for not earning better than men. As conceded, women live longer than men and therefore all superannuation accrued by a couple usually ends up in the hands of the female. Most aged travellers are women who make up around 80% of post retirement overseas tours.

    To treat women differently to men under superannuation regulations would be discriminatory

    We ARE in an age of entitlement where women wish to set in stone that someone else pays for their life style. As a young kid I was married with considerable savings because I knew my obligations. My wife was in debt and had spent all her money on herself. So she knew her obligations. This was early 70s and nothing has changed , other than men always being the problem.

    Has anyone ever taken the approach of complimenting men on their workforce achievements, other than saying it is discrimination against women for men to achieve anything by dedication hards work, and application. I have never, repeat NEVER seen men complimented as a gender for what they achieve. All I ever see is men berated for not doing enough and being the benefactors of systemic discrimination. Discrimination which sees a wife with Society funded benefited of breaks from work, guaranteed entry and re-entry to the workforce, time with their children, flexibility, and nominal membership of the cafe latte sipping, movie attending, beach patronising, self ordained special species of the day.

    On the other hand men have had conscription to war zones, attendant loss of lives, uninterrupted obligation to work and provide. decimation by Family Courts with the very people they provide for implementing, or being used as tools of revenge, in separation, along with superannuated subsidy to the female by decimation of accrued assets.

    Facts are many men remain married because of the decimation they can anticipate through the Family Court.

    I think today’s women are a whining bunch of individuals who know that they have kidnapped Society to the extent that they can demand anything they wish and will likely get it, because no one has the temerity to stand against their demands.

    It is long overdue that we called a halt, welcomed men back into Society, and ceased preference of women over men.

    • 0
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      I watched some men concreting a steep driveway today. Not a female concreter in sight. Then a man atop a very steep roof, jet-spraying the tiles and later re-pointing them. I saw a man lifting heavy furniture from a removals truck. Not a woman lifter in sight. There was a man on a cherry-picker, very high above ground level, fixing overhead wires. A very dangerous job. No female line repairers in sight. Saw a gardener, pushing a lawn mower uphill. Saw a painter up a high scaffold, sanding eaves four storeys high. Saw a man in a park, comforting a girlfriend who was using his strong shoulder to weep upon.
      Happy cyclist: if I am confused about the 21st century, why am I not seeing 21st century women doing all of the above 21st century heavy lifting, and why are 21st century women still weeping on men’s shoulders?

    • 0
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      The views expressed above will not be popular with those who simply expect something for nothing. Notice that many of the regular ladies are not posting?
      The examples above have no answer. They are reality and no amount of bleating from women who have made life choices can change the facts that men get a pretty hard lot generally and often say nix.

    • 0
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      and you know brissie, it was I that helped my husband pull out a motor, and do mechanical work, and it was i that cooked and cleaned and hung out the washing. NO man ever did anything in that area to help me…OH i also mowed the lawn and did the gardening, and worked in a factory sometimes 7 days per week.
      NO husband ever cleaned while i worked!!
      But you know women are doing many more tasks now, because they are being trained to do so. Because many men JUST won’t work…
      NOT all men are like that. but many that i have known WERE.
      ONE wouldn’t work all HIS life. Always complaining HE was sick……..
      How would you be on benefits all your life. Then waiting on your parents death. To benefit to survive on the rest of your life…..
      YEh some are Weird. I can tell ya

  7. 0
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    This whole premise makes me very uncomfortable. The concept of equal pay for equal work has been in place since 1969. And since 1972 there has been legislation supporting it. If there are cases where men and women are being paid differently for the same work thus resulting in a shortfall in superannuation savings, then that is a matter for the courts.

    Where lifestyle decisions are the primary factor in women accumulating less super savings than men, that is an entirely different matter.

    What makes me uncomfortable is the assumption that only women (and ALL women at that) are somehow disadvantaged in super. There are many men who are the primary care giver for children and elderly parents. There are many men in part-time positions. There are many men with periods out of the workforce (maybe for reasons other than bearing children but the effect is the same). There are many men in low paid jobs. None of this is the exclusive domain of women. Why then is this apparent inequality not also including men with similar super levels?

    If childbearing/rearing is the main issue then this is something that needs to be addressed by the couple deciding to have children. Making provision for super of the person who will take time out to parent should be part of the decision to have children in the first place.

    As for the idea of making employers pay women more super – ridiculous! Where is the equality in that?

    I would expect women to make up greater than 50% of those claiming the age pension. Women live longer than men – often up to 15 or more years. And more single women than marrieds? Well doh! If their men die younger, the women left will be classified as single! Not only that according to the BoS in December 2015 the ratio of men to women is 99.1:100 so there are just simply more women than men!

    I’d also like to know what the ‘live comfortably in retirement’ comment means in relation to women.

    I hope that this enquiry proceeds with caution and does NOT result in any affirmative action based on gender alone.

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      No wonder women live longer.

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      KSS,

      Re equal wages, please read the following from a government report from September 2015.

      https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

      There is also research that shows that tall, good looking men are paid more that short, unattractive men but it is difficult to prove when dealing with private sector employers.

      You are correct when you say that many men end up with small super balances due to a variety of reasons but the reason more women claim the age pension is that they have less super at the end of their working lives. Being single, female and male, contributes to financial disparity. It is easier to live on two incomes than one. That ratio of men to women is greater throughout life, has to do with risky behaviour and lifestyle, not some gender fluke.

      As for “living comfortably in retirement” this is dependent on a range of factors such as lifestyle and assets. I am pretty sure most Australians live more comfortably than our parents and grandparents did. They probably lived more frugally than we do.

      So what is “comfortable” is highly selective. If you were used to a disposable income of $200,000 prior to retirement, having you income reduced to $50,000 will require making some adjustments I would think.

      Perhaps the approach proposed by Denmark of paying all people a basic living wage, irregardless of employment, etc might be worth exploring.

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      It will be interesting to see the results if the proposed Danish proposition goes ahead. It may very well be the obvious solution to solving the current liquidity trap preventing growth and causing world wide deflation. There will certainly be a boost to growth as money flows more freely through the banks and local businesses.

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      What are they doing Rae?

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      yes KSS, but don’t forget also that times they are a changing. NO many jobs about now like there used to be.
      But when i worked i should have been paid double because of the heavy labouring that i had to do. IT was actually a mans job.
      But lucky me was a large women, got all them jobs no man wanted to do 🙂
      I hope the committe with have be 50%women+50%men???
      but i bet ya there won’t be!
      OH brissie give us a break, not all of us wanted everything, and gave nothing!!
      some of us worked like slaves to the man, Took me a long time to wake up and RUN away.

  8. 0
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    This is a wonderful time to define what a Government contracted enquiry will come up with.

    If the contractor wants to get the next contract it will ask a reft of questions designed to get exactly the outcome that the Government wants.

    The present (all my lifetime) Societal love affair with women will see another outcome that favours special treatment for women.

  9. 0
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    My salary was exactly the same as a man doing the same job. However, I had a long gap to raise children, that effects promotion opportunities. When a child was sick I was always the one to take leave. When it came to post graduate training it was seen as more important for the man to continue while for me, I could if I could juggle home, family, work and study. This was the age I was born into. The man was still seen as the major breadwinner and meant super as well. Its when you end up single that this becomes a genuine issue. I see a lot of men are protesting on this comment section about woman having some sort of equality. I guess its a reflection of the age of the contributor. I am so glad my father was forward thinking and insisted his daughters were well educated.

    • 0
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      Rosret, you bring common sense, logic and reality to the conversation. Just stop it will you.

    • 0
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      Rosret, women do not have some sort of equality. Women have superiority to men. Women have done a good job to ensure that men are jettisoned to the bottom of the scale of Society.

      I do not know why women bother having sons. Sons only grow into the species that women wish advantage over, that they despise, over whom they have contempt for, and over whom they cast as some species that has discriminated against women systematically.

      No one could seek to have the privilege that women have over men and respect those that they wish to subjegate, through self ordained entitlement.

      Harden up ladies. Life’s not fair for men either.

    • 0
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      Rosret, you and your husband were both adults who had discussion followed by mutual understanding and agreement. You are well educated so you made lifestyle choices based on what “the age you were born in?” And now you feel cheated by your husband? Is that what you’re saying?

    • 0
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      Frank, where does Rosret say she feels cheated by her husband. I didn’t read that. What I read was a logical explanation why even a well-educated lady with a good job and equal pay to a man STILL ends up with much less super.

    • 0
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      Happy cyclist, A man STILL ends up with a shorter life span, less time with his kids, and less conceit.

    • 0
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      At last the me me me BS gone and a discussion about the realities of life. Thank you.

    • 0
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      At last the me me me BS gone and a discussion about the realities of life. Thank you.

    • 0
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      Happy cyclist, I read “Its when you end up single that this becomes a genuine issue.”
      I think 15 years ago maybe it was an issue particularly with the division of pre and post 1983 components, undeducted contributions etc. Little wonder the family courts have a back log.

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      Those were certainly the good old days Frank. Pay clerks could never seems to get those termination pays right.

      Only last year I had a person come to me with a termination pay that was wrong. So even with simplifying it they still can’t get those termination pays right.

      So od the family courts still have problems too?

    • 0
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      YES rosret, and lucky you grew UP with a Father, and he didn’t die when u was just a kid!

  10. 0
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    So Mick you want my advice on super for both sexes? Now as you know I’m busy packing but if you ask nicely I might write a few words about it but I’m not sure that you are going to like what I write.

    • 0
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      No Bonny….I do not need your advice. Have read enough of that in the past and most leaves me shaking my head.
      and by the way THE COMMENT YOU ARE REFERRING TO IS NOT FROM ME.

    • 0
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      Well never mind you may have missed a real gem.

      I will admit though that in my opinion everyone here has got it completely wrong.

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