New England superannuation: Women worst off as report shows New England hasn't saved for retirement

President of the Tamworth branch of the Association of Independent Retirees Roy Cottage says the superannuation system is unfair. Photo: Andrew Messenger
President of the Tamworth branch of the Association of Independent Retirees Roy Cottage says the superannuation system is unfair. Photo: Andrew Messenger

Residents of the New England have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars less than they need to for a comfortable retirement.

And women are far worse off than men, with an average of a third less saved up.

That's the claim of a Industry Super Australia, which estimates a 30-year-old Tamworth woman earning the median wage would be $85,000 worse off at retirement if government does not raise the super rate to 12 per cent.

Industry Super Australia Director of Advocacy Georgia Brumby shared new modelling from the advocacy body which shows local women have a median super balance of just $120,900 compared to $180,600 for local men.

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Both men and women are significantly below the $545,000 the group estimates people need for a comfortable retirement.

President of the Tamworth branch of the Association of Independent Retirees, Roy Cottage, said with banking term deposits so low due to record-low interest rates it was harder than ever to save for retirement.

"We did suggest in a submission to government that the government think about starting a retirement bonds system, bonds only available to retirees, and pay something like 2 per cent (per year)," he said.

"And then they can use that for infrastructure development which they can spend on the whole nation."

The bond system would also save the government borrowing as much from foreign investors and countries, he said.

Mr Cottage also pointed to inequities in the superannuation system he said made it hard to save.

He personally saved so much money through super he now can't get the pension. But if he'd inherited a $10 million house he would be able to get the benefit.

Australians are required to save a minimum of 9.5 per cent of their wages for their retirement through the superannuation system. It's currently legislated to increase to 10 per cent on July 1, and then to 12 per cent by 2025. Politicians get 15 per cent of their income saved for their retirement.

The Morrison government has long been tipped to pause the legislated increase.

Mr Cottage said that would be a mistake and government ought to "stick to the plan".

Ministerfor Superannuation and Women's Economic Security Jane Hume said increasing superannuation contributions would not necessarily resolve the gender pay gap.

"Tipping ever increasing amounts of your hard earned money into super is not the answer, deferring more of your wages today comes at a trade-off to your standard of living in your working life," she said.

"The Retirement Income Review found that the working-life earnings gap between men and women, rather than the retirement income system settings, is the main driver in the gender gap in superannuation balances at retirement.

"The good news is that we have made substantial progress on the pay gap and participation gap and that work continues."

She said a decision to pause would be made "in light of all the evidence and in the economic circumstances of the time".

Ms Brumby said government could take a number of steps to reduce the super gap, including by passing laws to require super be paid on every dollar earnt to capture women who work in multiple part-time jobs.

"It is time we bridged the gender gap in super - if Barnaby Joyce doesn't act now local women's savings will keep falling further behind," she said.

"Mr Joyce has a simple choice; he can fight to deliver the promised super boost and get super paid on every dollar earnt or explain to female voters why he thinks it's ok for many local women to retire into poverty."

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This story Women worst off as report shows New England hasn't saved for retirement first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.