This review is yet another lost opportunity to address economic security for women in retirement.
Perhaps the most galling aspect of this report, which Scott Morrison released on Friday afternoon last week, was that there was a total omission of women from the terms of reference. This omission was no accident. It was particularly noticeable that 100 prominent Australians working in senior roles in business called on the Treasurer, identifying systemic problems in the superannuation system for women and requested that this concern be added to the terms of reference. No change was made.
Scott Morrison continues to maintain the male supremacy view of entitlement, while ignoring the fact that, on average, women retire with almost 50% less superannuation than men, and 23% of women retire with NO superannuation savings. No wonder it is becoming increasingly evident that women are going to face, and in fact are already facing, growing rates of poverty, housing stress and homelessness.
It has been made clear that women have been the most affected by the pandemic, and the future for young women only now entering the work force is that they too will suffer the same fate as the women of today. That is, they are the carers who provide the unpaid care, taking time out to carry and care for young children, and the carers of the old or sick relatives, thereby not building up that healthy superannuation nest egg.
Jenny McAllister chaired a report in 2015 which looked into the Economic Security of Women in Retirement and made 19 recommendations, receiving bipartisan support from all parties. The Morrison Government has ignored the report, showing no interest in implementing any of those 19 recommendations. What a lost opportunity!
The modelling which drove this report was heavily dependent on assuming 40 years of uninterrupted work. This is hardly the reality for the majority of women. Women alone can bear children and nurture them before returning to the work force. They obviously do not have 40 years of uninterrupted work in their lives. Consequently they are more likely to have much smaller amounts in a superannuation scheme and are much more dependent on a partner to provide for them. This leaves women vulnerable to a range of difficulties as they age.
The Liberals have shown themselves unsympathetic to the aged pension over the last seven years, while single women have become more dependent on the aged pension when it comes to the rental market and a home to call their own. This again leaves them extremely vulnerable to market forces and leads to insecurity and homelessness.
Superannuation was designed to mitigate those risks.
The Morrison Government has clearly indicated that it doesn’t care that women will have less secure retirements than men, and this is a disastrous failure of the Morrison Government, and one that will have tragic consequences in the years ahead as more and more women become vulnerable to market forces.
Ref: Jenny McAllister
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