MEDIA RELEASE: COTA congratulates Labor on plan to start closing gender gap in superannuation

Australia’s leading seniors advocate today congratulated Labor on its commitment to begin correcting the gender gap in superannuation that is leaving many women disadvantaged and struggling financially when they retire.

Labor announced today it will pay superannuation while parents are receiving Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave and Dad and Partner Pay payments.

It will also phase out the $450 minimum monthly income cap over four years and make it easier for employers to make extra payments into women’s superannuation funds.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Officer, Ian Yates said Labor’s announcement it will help ensure that women earning lower incomes, working casually or part time, or taking parental leave, have the income they need to live comfortably in retirement.

“We are particularly pleased Labor will scrap the exemption that prevents people who earn less than $450 a month from any employer being paid superannuation,” Mr Yates said. “COTA and others have been pushing hard for this change for years”.

“Women are too often paid less than men, they are more likely to be in casual or part time work and historically they take more time out of work to care for children and parents.

“As a result women on average women currently retire with half the superannuation of men, and earn $700,000 less in their lifetime – a situation that is leaving many older women at risk of homeless and poverty, particularly if they are living on their own.

“There needs to be a big shift in the way our superannuation system operates for women from the day they first start working to the day they retire so that generations of women do not miss out on vital savings necessary to their wellbeing in later life.”

Labor’s announcement follows the recommendations of a Senate Standing Committee on Economics’ Inquiry into Women’s Economic Security in Retirement, which was supported by all sides of politics.

Mr Yates called on all sides of politics to now support sensible approaches to improving retirement incomes for Australian women, including redoubled efforts to close the gender pay gap.

“We would also urge all parties, including Labor, to support a comprehensive independent Retirement Incomes Review to look at all aspects of retirement income, including superannuation, pensions, taxation, mature employment, housing, and meeting health and care needs in later years.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280