The Morrison Government has delayed introducing legislation supporting a major change to superannuation, in a move advocates have described as a major blow for low-income women.
The change is expected to cost $31.5 million by 2025, provided it comes into place by 1 July, 2022.
However, the bill including the abolition of the $450 rule - which was listed for debate this week - was deprioritised and may now not be tabled before the election.
The last sitting day of the year came to an end on Thursday.
Two-thirds of the 300,000 workers earning less than $450 a month are women, because women make up a higher percentage of casual and part-time workers.
A 20-year-old earning $449 a month with no superannuation could have $118,084 by retirement under the change. If the change doesn't occur, they could technically retire with nothing if their earnings never increased, Canstar analysis reveals.
Similarly, a 30-year-old earning the same amount would increase their super by $64,415 by retirement, and a 40-year-old would earn an extra $33,205.
'Political games': Religious discrimination bill sees super deprioritised
The superannuation bill was due to be tabled for debate in the same week that the religious discrimination bill claimed politicians’ attention.
The religious discrimination bill, tabled on 25 November, proposes that “statements of belief” from people of faith be immune to other anti-discrimination laws.
It would also extend freedoms to allow people of faith to discriminate against others.
Independent senator Rex Patrick said the Government was using the religious discrimination bill to play “political games”.
“This [superannuation] bill was a very good bill,” Patrick told Yahoo Finance.
“My fear is that other bills, such as the religious discrimination bill, will stop others from being dealt with this year.
“The Government has its legislative priorities all wrong.”
Provided the Government calls the next federal election for May 2022, there will be 10 sitting days between now and August and the Senate will sit just five times
The superannuation bill would need to be tabled as a priority for it to come into effect.
“The Morrison Government needs to explain why it has walked away from this uncontroversial legislation that would improve women’s lives,” Women in Super chair Kara Keys said.
“It is disappointing that a measure that has a negligible cost to the Government, a potentially big impact on women, and was announced over three years ago has been dropped from a very light legislative program.
“Women in Super calls on the Morrison Government to commit to passing this legislation in February.”
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) also took aim at the delay, noting that women retired with around half the amount of superannuation as men.
“Women are not the priority for the Morrison Government, as we see them yet again make promises to bridge the gender gap and then do nothing,” ACTU assistant secretary Scott Connolly said.
“Five days in parliament is likely all the Government has allowed for the $450 threshold to be legislated before the election, making it seemingly unlikely that they will fulfil yet another budget promise.”
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