Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Superannuation, Your Choice) Bill 2019; In Committee
Labor of course is extremely concerned about the retirement income gender gap. It was Labor senators who championed the inquiry which resulted in the report 'A husband is not a retirement plan': achieving economic security for women in retirement. I think it proved to be a very important inquiry. It was conducted by senators from all parts of the chamber and resulted in a unanimous report with many recommendations to improve retirement outcomes for women.
I listened carefully to Senator Hume's response. I note Senator Hume does not intend to support this Greens motion, and Labor does not intend to support it either. We will consider a wide range of policy options before the next election to tackle the challenges faced by women in retirement to improve their economic security, but this is not the bill where we will make that decision. We will make that decision as part of our considerations in the lead-up to an election. However, I did listen carefully to Senator Hume's response, and I make this observation: the government can point to very few things that it has practically done to support women's outcomes in retirement.
The government likes to come into this chamber and say that this is a priority, to provide comforting words to women that the government is concerned about their economic security in retirement, but it is difficult to identify a single measure in the last seven years that has actually gone to the issues that were canvassed in the report and that are routinely raised by women when you speak to them. The only measure that the government ever points to that in any way goes to these issues is the capacity for people to contribute above the cap in terms of voluntary superannuation contributions.
The truth is that most women are not in a position to make contributions above the cap. Most women do not have tens of thousands of dollars lying around, and most women are not, therefore, advantaged by a system that allows large volumes of cash to be popped into a super account as a one-off. That doesn't help, but it's the only measure that Liberal senators ever point to when these concerns are raised in this place. I say to the government: it is not good enough. You have been here for a long time. You are in your eighth year of government. Government provides marvellous opportunities to actually make real change in the lives of Australian people, and in this instance you have had the opportunity to make real change in the lives of Australian women, and it is immensely disappointing there has been no progress in the seven years you've been in power.