Transcript: Doorstop on Women and Retirement
10.00am | October 16, 2019
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SHADOW CABINET SECRETARY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
TUESDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2019
JENNY McALLISTER, LABOR SENATOR FOR NSW: Good morning. Well, everyone understands that there is a serious problem when it comes to women and retirement incomes. And yesterday, Women in Super wrote to the Treasurer asking him to make one very specific change to the Review into Retirement Incomes. They are asking that a Terms of Reference be added to specifically require the Inquiry to consider the needs of women. Now, to me, that seems pretty sensible. We know that women are retiring with just over half the superannuation balances as men and we also know that that problem is not going away. The same forces that have propelled those circumstances for this generation of women are present for the younger generation that is only now entering the workforce.
Women are much more likely to do unpaid caring work, women are much more likely to take time off or work part time. Women work in lower paid industries, in lower paid roles. And the fact is that a lot of the time when women are doing exactly the same job as men they are being paid less. And all these structural forces result in women being substantially worse off in retirement than men and they are a significant driver in the increasing numbers of homeless older women that we are seeing again and again in the statistics. This is just not fair. A lifetime of care of – care for others - should not be rewarded with poverty in retirement.
And it’s not like the Government doesn’t know about this. In 2015, I chaired a Senate Inquiry, an extensive Senate Inquiry that made 19 recommendations that were designed to produce a roadmap for change. That Inquiry was signed off by the Liberal members. It was a unanimous report from all Senators. And yet very few of those recommendations have been implemented.
We’ve had five reviews into the retirement income system directly or indirectly over the last decade, none of them have gone directly to the question of women’s interests. Now we have a gender problem in our retirement income system and it’s time for the Government to deal with it. Now this letter yesterday was signed by a range of people, more than 100 signatories, women like Jennifer Westacott, Dianne Smith-Gander, Sally McManus - senior women from right across the economy. It’s a call that the Treasurer ought to take seriously.
The Retirement Incomes Review ought to have its Terms of Reference expanded to deal specifically with the issue of women’s interests in retirement and that’s a call that Labor supports.
McALLISTER: The Government, curiously, seems often unable to manage proceedings in the Senate. I’m not sure what happened yesterday and the reasons for Mr. Bernardi’s absence – you’d have to ask Mr. Bernardi that – but Labor’s role in the Senate is to continue pressing our case, with our values, and ensuring that our approach to the legislation that is brought before the parliament is reflected in the way we participate in those proceedings.
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