Hello to everyone gathered in Sydney for the Women, Super and Wealth Summit.
Let me begin by congratulating the SMSF Association and the FSC for organising this event.
Enabling women to save more for their own retirement is critically important for our country.
So it’s great that so many of you — with your extensive knowledge of the industry — have come together today to share your expertise and develop practical solutions to contribute to addressing the challenge.
Women and super — the challenges
It’s well known that women typically earn less over their lifetime than men.
And we know one of the contributing factors is that many women have interrupted work patterns.
For example, 44 per cent of employed women, compared to just 15 per cent of men, worked part time in 2015-16.
This figure increases to 62 per cent for women who have a child under the age five.
As a result of interrupted work patterns women have lower superannuation balances than men.
Indeed, recent figures tell us that the median superannuation balance for women is only 75 per cent of men’s.
What the Government is doing
These are clearly big challenges and the superannuation gender gap won’t be remedied overnight.
But helping women – and all Australians – to save more for their retirement is something that governments should always be working toward.
And that is exactly what the Turnbull Government is doing with the most comprehensive package of superannuation taxation reforms in a decade coming into effect from the first of July this year.
Key measures which will benefit women include:
- the Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset, which will directly help 1.9 million low-income Australian women boost their retirement savings; and
- extending the eligibility for the spouse tax offset to families whose recipient spouses earn up to $40,000. This is up from $10,800 and typically benefits women.
At the heart of our reforms is more flexibility for millions of Australians, to help make the superannuation system work harder for them.
From the first of July this year there will be a level playing field so everyone – especially women – can take full advantage of their $25,000 annual concessional contribution cap, regardless of their employment arrangements, through personal deductible contributions.
Secondly, from the first of July 2018, people with super balances under $500,000 will be able to access their unused concessional super contributions cap space from the last five years.
97 percent of women with a superannuation account have a balance under $500,000 and they will clearly benefit from this change.
And while not everyone has the capacity to contribute up to their full concessional amount each year, we know that taking advantage of opportunities to make even small voluntary contributions as financial circumstances allow can have a big impact on a person’s balance over the long term.
Sadly, and amazingly given the potential benefit to millions of Australians, including women, Labor has said, if elected, it will repeal these important flexibility measures.
But, taken together, the Turnbull Government’s changes will make a big difference for many women.
We know there is more to do, including educating women about the options available to them. But we’ve made a start — a great start.
So I look forward to hearing how today goes, learning more about the solutions you put forward and to seeing many of you in person very soon.