‘Inequalities’ under national superannuation

Canberra Times 15th May 1984, p.9.

A national superannuation scheme would help to perpetuate the financial inequalities inherent in Australia, the ANZAAS congress was told.

In a joint paper delivered to the social-welfare section of the congress, Mr John Tomlinson and Ms Helen Creed, of the Darwin Community College, said that such a scheme would do little to redress the subjugated position of women, Aborigines and the young unemployed, many of whom were excluded from the workforce by “structural issues”.

They noted that the overwhelming majority of the 46 per cent of Australian workers currently covered by superannuation schemes were males. Only 22 per cent of female workers had access to such schemes.

“Among superannuates, those who obtain the greatest benefits are those most able, in terms of income available to them, to see to their own future,” the paper said.

Despite limited attempts at reform, discrimination on the basis of gender, age or race remained an intrinsic component of employment practice.

A guaranteed minimum income scheme appeared a better option than a national superannuation scheme in that “whilst there would still be gross inequalities present between those who had been able to successfully exploit the capitalist system and those who were excluded from the productive process, it would be possible to have a minimum level of income for all Australians set at a livable level”.

“The proposed (by the present Government) national superannuation scheme, if introduced, would provide some benefits to those members of the workforce not presently included in superannuation schemes,” it said.

“However, if the introduced scheme is anything like the one proposed by the Hancock committee, then it will involve actually perpetuating the inequalities experienced by workers into the retirement phase of their lives because the benefits will be income related.”

A guaranteed minimum income would:

  • Provide every person with the security that their survival was ensured.
  • End the total financial dependence of unemployed married people on their spouses.
  • Remove from young people under 16 their almost total dependence on their parents or parent substitutes, such as child-welfare departments.