HESTA calls for gender impact goal in super objective

11 October 2023
| By Laura Dew |
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HESTA has called for a goal on eliminating the gender superannuation gap in its submission to the objective of super consultation. 

The second objective of super consultation was opened by Treasury at the start of September and closed on 29 September.

The government’s proposed wording of the objective is “to preserve savings to deliver income for a dignified retirement, alongside government support, in an equitable and sustainable way”.

In its submission, HESTA recommends building a more equitable and dignified retirement income system for all Australians, irrespective of their income levels. This should strive to rectify existing disparities rather than reinforce or create new ones, it said.

HESTA chief executive, Debby Blakey, said: “We believe in the power of superannuation to transform lives and advocate for a system that truly works for all.

“We cannot move forward while leaving some behind. Our superannuation system must actively work to redress imbalances.

“Our aim is simple: A future where the gender superannuation gap is a thing of the past.”

The submission recommends compatibility statements incorporate comprehensive analyses, including rigorous modelling, to evaluate a policy’s impact on superannuation savings and its potential adverse consequences.

Its three recommendations made in the submission are: 

  • Include in the explanation of the “equitable” key concept that superannuation system settings should not entrench or create inequitable outcomes.
  • State an ambition to close the gender super gap.
  • Ensure sufficiently robust accountability mechanisms are in place to assess superannuation policy against the objective, both at the time superannuation policy change is proposed and over time through a periodic review.

“Transparency and thorough analysis are essential because Australians deserve to know how policies affect their retirement savings,” Blakey said.

“The ambition to target support in the superannuation system to those most in need can only be achieved if the distributional outcomes of superannuation policy are measured on different groups over time.

“A Gender Superannuation Impact Assessment can help us achieve this goal.”

Last week, a submission from the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia stated there was “room for improvement” on looking beyond financial sustainability. 

RIAA said it is strongly supportive of the inclusion of the term ‘sustainable’ in the proposed definition.

“However [we] see areas for potential strengthening for a more fulsome definition of this term in a manner that reflects not merely financial sustainability, but equally reflect the consideration of those external sustainability challenges – such as climate change – that risk having outsized impacts on the quality of retirement for Australians,” it said.

“We therefore recommend that the definition of ‘sustainable’ within the legislation and supporting explanatory memorandum is broadened to include the consideration of those external social and environmental sustainability challenges that have the potential to have a great impact on the nature of the retirement of Australians.”

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