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Making super fairer: Federal Budget changes that would increase retirement savings for more women

Super Members Council Media Release

Lower paid women would have $40,000 more at retirement if at this year’s Budget the Federal Government committed to paying super on Commonwealth parental leave and re-aligning tax offsets, a new report has found.

The Super Members Council (SMC) report, Securing a Dignified Retirement for More Women, provides new insights into the drivers of the gender super gap, highlighting that this Budget presents an opportunity for immediate action to improve outcomes for women while working towards further substantive, long-term structural changes.

And to make super fairer, SMC also urges the government use this Budget to better recognise First Nations and Indigenous kinship structures in super and further boost unpaid super enforcement. 

SMC Interim Chair Nicola Roxon said poorly targeted tax concessions, the lack of super on paid parental leave and inequities in both pay and workforce participation rates are all persistent barriers to many women achieving economic security in retirement.

“Super has transformed the lives of millions of Australians, yet for many women, who retire earlier and live longer than men, the system is still falling short.” Ms Roxon said.

Women typically retire with a third less super than men. Bridging this gender super gap will require considered, society-wide change over time. But action on long overdue polices at this Federal Budget would make a meaningful difference to retirement outcomes for women, including:

  • Paying super on the Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay scheme could mean a mother of two is $12,500 to $14,500 better off at retirement. This would benefit thousands of working mums each year.
  • Increasing the low-income superannuation tax offset (LISTO) so workers earning up to $45,000 receive a full tax refund on their super guarantee (SG) contributions. This change would boost the super of more than 1.2 million Australians – 60 per cent of whom are women. 

New SMC cameo modelling shows these measures combined could mean lower paid women retire with $38,000 more, boosting their final retirement balance by between 18% and 21%. (See Table 1)

“Paying super on parental leave and better aligning tax offsets for lower paid workers can be enacted almost immediately and will make a meaningful difference to women at retirement,” Ms Roxon said.

“We need to ensure super tax concessions are directed to those who need it the most.”

The report adds further evidence to the many voices that have come before, including the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, to highlight the significant opportunity to improve equity in Australia’s world-class super system.

The Super Members Council Pre-Budget submission – its first since forming out of a merger between Industry Super Australia and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees – also suggests a series of other measures that would improve equity in super and retirement outcomes, including:    

  • Formally recognising traditional Indigenous kinship arrangements inside super
  • Setting unpaid super compliance targets for the ATO
  • Paying super to all under-18 workers, not just those who work more than 30 hours a week – this would mean an additional $2,600 in super contributions to the average underage worker.   
  • Improving data sharing arrangements, so de-identified tax data can better help super funds create more tailored and targeted retirement solutions for members.

And outside super, lifting the childcare subsidy would increase parents’ workforce participation and pay – especially for women – which would, in turn, boost their super balance at retirement.         

Table: Increase to retirement balance from paying super on Commonwealth Parental Leave Pay (PLP) and increasing the Low-Income Super Tax Offset (LISTO)


Percentile Dollar value Per cent Dollar value Per cent
Men Women Men Women Men Women Men Women
P10 $11,135 $13,957 4% 11% $12,116 $26,403 5% 21%
P20 $4,074 $26,351 1% 13% $4,956 $38,797 1% 18%
P30 $4,545 $12,559 1% 4% $5,428 $25,005 1% 9%
P40 $2,261 $6,999 0% 2% $3,143 $19,445 1% 6%
P50 $0 $7,221 0% 2% $882 $19,667 0% 5%
P60 $0 $8,977 0% 2% $882 $21,423 0% 4%
P70 $0 $10,567 0% 2% $882 $23,012 0% 4%
P80 $0 $0 0% 0% $843 $12,446 0% 1%
P90 $0 $0 0% 0% $845 $12,338 0% 1%




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  1. andyfiftysix

    its all pissing in the wind. A fiddle here and a fiddle there. And in the end it serves to strangle entitlements.

    The only fairness that can be designed into super would make deposits untaxed, withdrawals taxed at the marginal rate, one super scheme that everyone participates in, and have a flat pension at the average wage for everyone. No limits to contributions. Then i will say its designed to do its job.

    As it is now, its all fear driven……have i got enough to live on….the government takes a cut in, a cut from the fund earnings and a free for all on the way out. The funds themselves take a cut too.

    So many inefficiencies and differences in payout. The rich get a bigger slice , AGAIN. If your fucking rich, you dont need super……If you have had a poor job history, your left with a pittance.

    Governments can provide for your retirement two ways, super or the pension. Combining the two is such a sloppy and inefficient way of dealing out retirement benefits. Not to mention the ponsy scheme called housing………IT SHOULD NOT be a way of providing for your retirement……….did i say fairness? Its a built in screw you system.

  2. leefe

    ” … yet for many women, who retire earlier and live longer than men … ”

    Who, in the vast majority of cases, are the family member expected to do the childrearing and parental care and, thus, pushed into part-time work and/or giving up or at least pausing careers – and such pauses affect not just their earnings at the time but future prospects as well as super.

  3. Phil Pryor

    If one assesses all types of work involvement and effort, women do 2/3ds of the world’s work, but, being under men (no really) they get less than justice. Superannuation of 10% with no fiddling, cheating, rigging, (politicians? accountants?) over a lifetime in a good job, could bolster the retirement, though some pension rights would seem to be needed. Let us improve this at least.

  4. andyfiftysix

    Phil Pryor, “… Let us improve this at least…..”. It cant be done. The way super is structured, it just cant be done without somebody tipping in money…….and we all know how popular that is.

    Tipping money in would just put a spot light on how fucked it is. Keating’s golden child is labor heritage and will not be bent to society’s needs, isnt it obvious? A fiddle here and a fiddle there will make a $10,000 difference over a lifetime and given how much you need to put a roof over your head these days….thats SFA. Remember, a pension is around $20,000 – $25,000 a year. Can you survive comfortably on that in australia? Even with 200,000-$300,000 in super, you would be miserable. You can only earn $11,000 a year extra before the pension drops—-and thats in $420 lots every fortnight, not a lump sum you can claim back at the end of the year. Just think about how much rent is now… need the whole fucking pension to pay for rent.

    No party is willing to say they fucked up……i see the libs are now fibre friendly after giving us fraudband, as an example.

    Sorry for busting your bubble of hope. The only salvation is major surgery, combining super and pensions in one unifying fund that covers everybody and pays substantially more than what your “allowed to earn” now. I have no problem with a cap on payouts but it cant be the pittance that the pension is now. A UBI cant be delivered now because of ideology, but a retirement system that actually looks after retirees is still within reach. Limiting housing as retirement investment will then not be an issue as we strive to lower those costs. Eliminate the fear and watch as society flourishes.

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