Super system leaving people behind

Women are a symptom and not a cause of the superannuation system, AustralianSuper believes.

Speaking at SuperReview's "Future of Super" conference last week, AustralianSuper group executive for engagement, advocacy, and brand, Georgina Williams, said gender did not matter but the main problem with the super system was that people were getting left behind.

"The main problem we need to solve, is that of inequity and assist all minority groups by using the tax privileged environment for all and not just those at the top of the financial ladder and nearing retirement," she said.

Williams said while the workforce participation rate for women was 59.5 per cent, the super system was not designed with them in mind 30 years ago.

"Can we make ours the last generation to subject a large part of our society to institutionalised inequity?" she said.

"…It isn't that hard, some of these things we can do tomorrow. We can get really clever and getting women to be thought of as a symptom and not a cause and that's why a gender lens is so important.

"We can absolutely make inroads in this area. We need to get people engaged early and change the dialogue early. I want to simplify the hell out of them."

Williams said the system discriminated against all workers who had part-time, or casual employment, or broken work patterns.

"The system doesn't reflect the reality of life for a large proportion of the modern workforce. The fact that they are women is neither here nor there in the bigger picture," she said.

"How this is considered acceptable is beyond me."

Williams said the fundamental issues that needed to be addressed were:

  • How much somebody is paid — equal pay for men and women;
  • Implement policies that reflect the importance of non-paid care in our community;
  • Incentivise younger workers to save earlier with tax breaks; and
  • The super sector needs to step up and take responsibility and stop waiting for governments to lead the way.

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Here we go again. We already have "equal pay for equal work". If some people choose careers requiring lower skills and so lower incomes, why should the diligent have to support their career choices? Super is effectively deferred pay, and if you are capable of earning higher pay then your super balance will be correspondingly larger. Get over it, and either get a better education or work harder. Women live longer than men, so should retire at a couple of years older age, helping compensate for any years that they may have skipped from the workforce, while giving them equivalent retirement years as men.

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