Joanne Ryan MP
Federal Member for Lalor
Joanne Ryan MP

Superannuation October 1

Ms RYAN: I am really pleased to be speaking on this matter of public importance today because I want to talk about women and the low-income superannuation contribution. I note that neither speaker opposite mentioned women. This measure will have a disproportionately higher impact on women. Approximately 3.6 million people will be affected by these changes and two-thirds of those will be women—that is, over two million low-income women set to retire with less in their savings. Overall the impact will probably affect the retirement savings of one in two women. Yet again this government shows its true colours when it comes to equal opportunity. We have seen it before—only one woman in cabinet, a lone female voice in the cabinet room. I suspect, due to overseas commitments, that lone female voice is often absent from cabinet meetings. What does that leave us with? It leaves us with wall-to-wall men making decisions ignorant of or worse knowingly hurting the lives of women.

Ms Henderson: You have got to be kidding!

Ms RYAN: I give you my heartfelt thanks. Oh! Feigned outrage! I am glad that you are in the chamber today. I will tell you what: I am so pleased you are in the chamber today but I am tired of you knocking on that cabinet door. Why don't you walk through it? Why don't you get into that cabinet and speak to them about low-income superannuation and what it will mean to women's earnings at the end of their working life and what it will mean to the dignity of their retirement? Women who earn $37,000 a year in this country are being hit triplefold by this government but it is okay as long as those on high incomes do not take the cuts, no. The cuts by this government are hitting low-income women. I am really pleased to see some women in here with me. There was no modelling done on the budget's impact on women because this government does not care about women.

An opposition member interjecting

Ms RYAN: That is the other problem—as I hear behind me. Perhaps they do know but they do not care. That is how it feels on this side, when measure after measure dished up by this government in 12 months has hurt women.

Mr Tudge: Like paid parental leave.

Ms RYAN: So we are going to talk about paid parental leave—12 months and we have not seen legislation on the floor of this chamber about a PPL and why would we want to see legislation about that PPL? We have a perfectly good PPL scheme already and that one is a rolled gold one for millionaires, as we have pointed out several times.

The small benefit in the low-income superannuation contribution was designed to support low-income women, many of whom juggle family commitments and their careers with flexible, often part-time working arrangements. It was one form of tax break for which they were eligible. It was a small measure that went some way to support women who retire currently on approximately 40 per cent less than men. Given women live longer, this is an important measure that Labor was proud to support. It was a modest support measure for those earning less than $37,000 a year. It was a maximum contribution of $500 per annum. What a lousy deal this government struck with the Palmer United Party.

High-income earners often find ways to ensure their superannuation can be concessional by salary sacrificing, for example, option low-income workers rarely have the ability to access. So layer upon layer, we see what this government thinks about low-income earners and about women. Not only are they removing the low-income superannuation contribution but they are delaying general superannuation increases until 2025.

Under Labor, superannuation was projected to increase each year until it reached 12 per cent in 2019. It was a good plan. The coalition government first announced a delay to postpone increases until 2021, then a further announcement saw a delay until 2022— (Time expired)


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