Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Statements by Senators


1:32 pm

Photo of Catryna BilykCatryna Bilyk (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I was disappointed, but sadly not surprised, to learn that one in four—one in four!—Tasmanians were short-changed on their superannuation in the 2018-19 financial year. In that year alone Tasmanian workers were ripped off to the tune of $76.6 million. The superannuation system was designed to ensure that people who have worked all their lives can enjoy a comfortable retirement, and the deliberate failure to pay workers their full legal super entitlement is theft.

Employers who engage in this theft are not just stealing from the workers; they're also stealing from taxpayers by unnecessarily increasing Australians' reliance on the age pension. And, by gaining an unfair competitive advantage, they are stealing from other employers who are doing the right thing and paying their workers super on time and in full.

In some ways superannuation theft can have an even greater impact on workers than wage theft. Because super is not paid directly to workers the theft can take longer to detect, and it is likely to be more costly in the long run. A $1,000 underpayment to a worker aged 25 could end up costing that worker up to $6,000 at retirement. Right now workers cannot pursue their claim to superannuation unless it is specifically included in their award, agreement or employment contract. It is instead left up to the Australian tax office to pursue.

The Australian Labor government will legislate to include a right to superannuation in the National Employment Standards. This will enable the Fair Work Ombudsman and other parties to pursue claims when workers have not received their full super entitlement. Australian workers deserve greater financial security in retirement and, after nine years of inaction by the previous government, Labor is getting on with the job of tackling super theft—another area that the now opposition let slip.