Industry Super Australia says the super gender gap needs to be addressed.
Industry Super Australia says the super gender gap needs to be addressed.

Call to bridge the gender gap in super

Urgent action must be taken to arrest the gender gap in super balances, according to Industry Super Australia.

Figures show that women of all ages in the electorate of Capricornia can expect to have 40 per cent less super than men and retire with less than half that of men, while in Flynn women retire with a third less than men.

Women in Capricornia on the cusp of retirement have a median super balance of just $113,600, while in Flynn it’s $121,500 – well below the $545,000 needed for a comfortable retirement.

The ISA said those figures highlighted the need to lift the super rate as legislated from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent.

It also warned that a 30-year-old woman on the median wage could have up to $85,000 less at retirement if the super rate was cut.

Industry Super Australia figures representing super gender gap in electorate of Capricornia.
Industry Super Australia figures representing super gender gap in electorate of Capricornia.

The gender super gap in Capricornia opens up when a woman is in her 30s. Once in their 50s and 60s, most can expect to have half as much super as a man.

Women in Flynn have lower median super balances at all ages but the gender super gap blows out to almost 60 per cent when women are in their mid to late 40s.

The ISA expressed concerns that the government had said it was considering cutting super at 9.5% even as government MPs, such as Capricornia’s Michelle Landry and Flynn’s Ken O’Dowd, pocketed more than 15 per cent super on top of their parliamentary wages.

ISA chief executive Bernie Dean said it was time to bridge the super gender gap.

“If local MPs don’t act now, local women’s savings will keep falling further behind,” he said.

“Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has a simple choice - she can fight to deliver the promised super boost and get super paid on every dollar earned or explain to female voters why she thinks it’s okay for many local women to retire into poverty.

Industry Super Australia figures representing super gender gap in electorate of Flynn.
Industry Super Australia figures representing super gender gap in electorate of Flynn.

“Sticking with super increases and closing the gap is crucial for a woman’s economic security.”

The ISA maintains that while the gender super gap widens, the government has been dragging its feet on important reforms which will improve CQ women’s retirement outcomes.

Those include:

  • Paying super on every dollar earnt, including Commonwealth paid parental leave;
  • Abolishing the $450 threshold where super is not paid unless you earn more than that a month, this greatly impacts women as they are more likely to have multiple part-time jobs;
  • Failing to enact super splitting legislation, this streamlines the process of dividing super assets when a relationship ends and allows more women to get their fair share.

A recent retirement survey, commissioned by ISA, found that on average women spend 12 years less in the full-time workforce than men, with this time away from work having a dramatic impact on their super balance.

One in three women retire with no super balance at all, according to a 2016 Senate report.

Ms Landry was contacted for comment.