HESTA’s Chief Executive Has Spoken Out Regarding the Superannuation System in Australia

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The chief executive of the $70 billion fund HESTA, Debby Blakey, has spoken out about the inequality in Australia’s superannuation system. She called for urgent reforms to be introduced by the government this year.

Blakey noted that some Australians still need to accumulate enough superannuation to support themselves and their families in retirement. She highlighted that women, who tend to earn less than men or take time out of the workforce for unpaid parental leave, often need to catch up regarding retirement savings.

To address this problem, Blakey proposed:

  • introducing measures such as superannuation on paid parental leave, 
  • increasing the superannuation guarantee for low-paid workers,
  • and capping superannuation balances to curtail generous tax concessions for wealthy Australians.

“I don’t think it’s just about the dollars. I think it’s also the message that sends about unpaid caring work,” Blakey stated. “Sometimes you have to do things because they are the right thing to do. I think this falls into that category”

Superannuation inclusion in the government’s paid parental leave program was a Labor election campaign promise in 2019. However, the party has postponed any immediate plans, saying that while it still supports the idea, it is unlikely to be implemented in its first term.

In her speech, Blakey also pointed out that reforming the superannuation system could boost Australia’s economy, noting that any changes would be an investment in our future prosperity. As the debate over ensuring Australian retirement security continues, the pressure is now on the government to take decisive action. 

Another change HESTA is asking for is the implementation of a carer’s credit, which currently exists in the UK and would pay superannuation for people who are not working because they are caring for young children. To match the tax thresholds, this credit would raise the low-income super tax offset maximum amount from $20,000 to $45,000.

“The fact that there are around 11,000 Australians who have more than $5 million in super, that’s not what super is meant to be about,” said Blakey. “It’s an uncomfortable topic … because it can feel quite personal. But we would definitely support that being addressed.”

As more people enter retirement without enough savings, it has become increasingly clear that something needs to be done. It remains to be seen whether Blakey’s words will lead to concrete reforms being introduced this year, but her message about the importance of superannuation has been heard loud and clear. 

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