Currently, statistics show that on average, women retire with $113,000 less in their super than men due to lower wages and time out of the workforce spent raising children, caring for parents and during divorce, leaving them vulnerable to homelessness as they age.
The promise by a Shorten Labor Government will see a $400 million investment, which they say will “strengthen Australia’s superannuation system and boost women’s superannuation balances” as “another step” in their Women’s Economic Strategy.
While making this promise, the Opposition do acknowledge that today’s measures won’t “end the problem”, but will help reduce the inequity in the system.
“Labor knows that closing the gender gap on superannuation is absolutely critical to Australian women having dignity and certainty in retirement,” Labor says.
“Labor believes that no Australian should be penalised for taking time out of paid work to have children.
“That is why a Shorten Labor Government will ensure that recipients of Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave and Dad and Partner Pay payments continue to receive super contributions.”
Seniors advocacy groups across the nation have shared their support of the Opposition’s promise, highlighting the difference it will make to Australia’s future older women.
National Seniors Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ian Henschke says a support like the one promised is something the advocacy group had called for in the past.
“This policy is a key step in ensuring women have the income they need to live comfortably in retirement,” Mr Henschke says.
“It won’t solve what is a complex problem overnight, but it will begin to correct a situation that makes older women particularly vulnerable at a time of their life when they deserve better.”
Council on the Ageing (COTA) also spoke in support of the promise, with CEO Ian Yates also acknowledging that it is something the advocate and others had “been pushing hard for” for some years.
“Women are too often paid less than men, they are more likely to be in casual or part time work and historically they take more time out of work to care for children and parents,” Mr Yates explains.
“There needs to be a big shift in the way our superannuation system operates for women from the day they first start working to the day they retire so that generations of women do not miss out on vital savings necessary to their wellbeing in later life.”
COTA also took the opportunity to urge all parties, including Labor, to support a comprehensive independent Retirement Incomes Review to look at all aspects of retirement income, including superannuation, pensions, taxation, mature employment, housing, and meeting health and care needs in later years.