Gladstone is Queensland’s third most-wealthy region.
Gladstone is Queensland’s third most-wealthy region. Warren Lynam

Cashed-up Gladstone faces superannuation slug

Gladstone ranked third in Queensland for economic resources

OUR life expectancy is growing longer and retirement funds are running out faster than expected.

Financial advice company Mercer has stated two out of three Australians will run out of savings by the age of 70.

Sothertons Chartered Accountants director Tina Zawila said people needed to be more aware of their future.

"The predictions are that, even with the increasing amount of compulsory super, life expectancy is also getting longer, and retirement funds simply won't last" she said.

"Particularly young people don't see super as their money. They think, 'Well I'm 25 now, it's a long time till I'm 65'. But the point is to make some good choices now as a 25-year-old. They can make a real difference to where they end up at 65."

Compulsory superannuation contributions are due to go up from 9% to 9.25% as of July 1 but Prime Minister Julia Gillard has refused to rule out retrospective changes to the taxation of retirement savings.

"The term retrospective means she can go back and make changes to legislation that impact on the past," Ms Zawila said.

Ms Gillard also has refused to define the "fabulously wealthy" Australians that cabinet minister Craig Emerson said any changes would be directed at, but there were indications those earning more than $300,000 might be affected.

"The sentiment as (financial) professionals is that superannuation is a long term investment and for effective planning we need some stability of the legislation so we can make recommendations for the future," Ms Zawila said.

"If any government continually changes the rule in respect to super, it makes it very difficult to plan."

Ms Zawila said there had been an increase in some savvy locals taking superannuation into their own hands.

"Certainly, the growth in self-managed super funds across Australian is phenomenal," she said.

"There are so many new funds being set up - thousands each year. It's a growth area.  It's also an area I think people may not fully understand."

How concerned are you about your superannuation?

This poll ended on 04 May 2013.

Current Results

Not at all. It's well under control

45%

A bit. I don't feel like I have enough

27%

Very worried. I think I've left it a bit late

18%

Retirement? That's ages away

9%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Gladstone ranked third in Queensland for economic resources

THE Australian Bureau of Statistics' area comparison from the 2011 census shows Gladstone is in Queensland's top three most wealthy regions.

Measured by income, property investment and other economic indicators, the Gladstone region ranks just behind Redland and the Central Highlands.

GTC Financial's managing director Neville Hughes said Gladstone's rank was expected.

"We have such a large concentration of big industry here - it surprises me we're not higher," he said.

In 2011, 11% of residents earnt more than $2000 a week, compared with just 5.5% across the state.

"Large industry employers are traditionally good payers," Mr Hughes said.

"The average income earned in industry is significantly higher here than what you would expect in suburban areas. So that pushes the average of the incomes in Gladstone up."

And the danger of that is that it could skew the averages of higher, and generally the cost of living is higher, the cost of operating business here and therefore people who aren't on the average income are paying more

It's not all good news though as Gladstone's access to high paying jobs has affected the region with issues of housing, vacancies in the service industries and local business pushed out of the market.

"If you think about it statistically, you might have a smaller amount of people earning significantly more than the remainder of the people are," Mr Hughes said.

"And the danger of that is that it could skew the averages of higher, and generally the cost of living is higher, the cost of operating business here and therefore people who aren't on the average income are paying more."

Gladstone has elements of a two-speed economy, with 7.9% of residents earning less than $200 a week, also higher than the statewide average of 7.5%.

Mr Hughes said pay packets could have shifted significantly since 2011.

"The initial construction phase of LNG has finished and the second construction phase has started to get underway," he said.

"That means that businesses that are still engaged in LNG work on Curtis island are doing better than they have ever done, but any business not directly involved has been really affected by it, they're really struggling."

See an analysis of individual income levels in Gladstone Regional Council area in 2011 compared to Queensland here.