Greens to push for inquiry into women’s superannuation

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women's superannuation, Greens, Senate Inquiry, Sex Discrimination Amendment (Boosting Superannuation for Women) Bill 2014 Adam Bandt, the Greens industrial relations spokesperson and member of the House of Representatives, said today that the Greens will move for a Senate inquiry into their bill to boost superannuation for women.

This follows today’s announcement by the ANZ bank of a range of measures to “help women better engage with their financial futures and address the structural bias and subsequent financial disadvantage they face in the workplace and retirement.”

The measures for ANZ’s Australian female employees include the payment of superannuation contributions on paid and unpaid parental leave for up to 24 months, an increase on the current 12 months, and “top-up” superannuation payments of $500 per year for permanent and fixed-term positions.

“Today’s announcement by the ANZ is a huge win for their women employees,” said Mr Bandt.

“On average, women have $44,000 in their super account, compared to $82,000 for men. This is an extreme level of inequality and ANZ is doing the right thing by trying to change this for their employees,” he said.

“But not every company can afford the measures that ANZ undertook to ensure they weren’t opening themselves up to legal challengers for paying their women employees more super than their male employees.”

“The Greens want all women to have an equal future. We will move to send our Boosting Super for Women Bill to a Senate inquiry for an Australia-wide look at the problem of women retiring without enough money. If our bill passes, all companies, regardless of their size, can take risk-free steps to equal up the super balance for women.”

The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Boosting Superannuation for Women) Bill 2014 would make it so that paying female employees more in superannuation on the basis of their gender was not discrimination.

The bill was introduced to the House of Reps in December 2014, but has not progressed. Attorney General George Brandis has reportedly said that paying women more than men is not prohibited and so “the government considers that your bill is unnecessary to achieve the outcome you propose and accordingly we do not propose to support your bill.” Parliament is next scheduled to sit on the 10th of August.

Research firm Rice Warner had recommended the Government amend the Sex Discrimination Act to make it easier for employers to implement programs similar to the one announced by ANZ.

“ANZ Bank Chairman David Gonski and CEO Michael Smith are to be acknowledged for leading the first of Australia’s large corporates to introduce positive measures for female employees,” said Rice Warner CEO Michael Rice.

“It raises the bar for others to follow, and introduces similar measures pioneered by our firm in 2013. We are all very pleased to see a major Australian institution, with some 13,000 female employees, lead out on this very important issue.”

A possible Senate inquiry into women’s superannuation was also supported by Industry Super Australia and AIST. Tom Garcia, AIST CEO said “the first thing we need to do to address the super gender gap is to create a fairer super taxation system. The reality is, the system as it stands currently is stacked in favour of high income earning, well-off males.”

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