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Thursday, 20 June 2013
Page: 6523


Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (14:51): My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation. How are the government's policies helping Australian women build stronger and fairer retirement savings? What other policies are there, and what would be their impact?

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongMinister for Financial Services and Superannuation and Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) (14:52): I thank the member for Chifley for his question. He raises a very important matter, and that is the gender savings gap that exists in Australia. It is a fact that women in Australia earn on average 17 per cent less than men; it is a fact that 2.2 million Australian working women earn less than $37,000; it is a fact that Australian working women are more likely to be in part-time jobs; it is a fact that women have more periods of broken service and employment because they take time off to raise families; it is also a fact that when women retire, they have, on average, in their superannuation balances $149,000, whereas men have, on average, $266,000. There is clearly a gap in Australia between the retirement savings of men and women. Labor is actually tackling this gap. I will not go on a link about what we are doing with workplace relations, because I think that everyone in Australia knows that Labor is more fair dinkum about the equal treatment of women in the workplace that those opposite. But on superannuation, too, we are tackling this gap.

By increasing superannuation from nine to 12 per cent, Labor is giving every woman who goes to work the chance to have a more dignified retirement by increased superannuation savings. A 29-year-old receptionist today earning $45,000, courtesy of Labor's policies, will have an extra $83,000 in retirement. A hairdresser at the age of 20 earning $37,000 will have an extra $111,000, courtesy of Labor lifting super from nine to 12. It is also true to say that by Labor axing the 15 per cent tax on superannuation contributions for 2.2 million Australian working women, we are giving a lot more women the chance to have more money in retirement. That is what we are doing to tackle the gap.

But I am asked by the member for Chifley, are there other policies? I regret to inform the House that there are. The opposition, in their reply to the budget, stunned Australian working women by saying that they are going to freeze the increases in superannuation at 9¼ per cent. Why do they want women to retire with less money? The opposition also reconfirm their great big new 15 per cent tax on 2.2 million Australian. I hope that the members of the opposition, when they leave this place this weekend, when they are having their hair cut, when they are going to health services, when they are hearing reports about how their kids have gone at school, when they are in the retail sector, have got the courage to tell these working women: 'We don't want you to retire with as much money'. I hope they have got the courage to look in the face 2.2 million Australian women and say: 'By the way, if you vote coalition, we're going to do you over. We don't value you.' Labor is the only party who wants to see women retire with an adequate, decent retirement.