Super tax breaks for women?

Very interesting suggestion reportedly made yesterday by federal Superannuation Minister, Nick Sherry – floating the removal of the 15 per cent super contributions tax for women as one way of bringing their retirement savings into line with men.

“Women spend significant more time out of the workforce than men and super splitting is not a solution, it’s just playing around the edges,” he said.   Senator Sherry was referring to a concession introduced in 2006, which allows couples to split their super contributions to potentially gain tax benefits.

“Women earn 15 per cent less than men on average and the solution is either to pay maternity leave or remove contributions tax for women and not for men. There’s a real radical solution.”

I have to say I can immediately see the potential for significant anomalies if a part of the tax law is based specifically on gender alone.  And one would also want to see some thorough modelling to see whether this sort of proposal actually resulted in greater equity, as might appear on first glance.

However, one should also keep in mind the central existing and very large anomaly (and injustice), which is the one Nick Sherry highlighted – that women on average still earn significantly less than men over a lifetime, and this seriously impacts on their superannuation, and thus on their life choices and individual freedom.

Despite significant advances over the last 30 to 40 years, this particular inequity remains very much entrenched. Some creative solutions are worth considering.

This post gives me a chance to say in passing that Nick Sherry is one of my favourite federal Ministers. He’s competent, diligent, consistently sticks to his core business, has overcome major career hurdles through persistence, and is not prone to indulging in some of the more distasteful aspects of political behaviour. Given the obvious problems that a measure like this would create, I suspect on this occasion he is mainly trying to spark debate rather than float a real policy shift. However, it does draw attention to something which remains a core problem at the heart of retirement incomes policy.

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  1. Lorikeet – I find it hard to believe that anyone’s work report explicitly marked them down for demure clothing, unless the issue was that they refused to wear trousers; perhaps in a safety situation that might be a problem. Was that written down? When was this?

  2. Lorikeet:

    “Males pay a lot of attention to women’s appearances – far more than any woman”

    I remain unconvinced. The nature of the attention may well be different, but I think the women evaluate & assess other women as well.

    But then, I can’t really know “what women want”, any more than you could know what men want.

    Careful now! Watch out for stereotypical generalisations!

  3. Haven’t you guys learnt anything from this blog. It doesn’t matter how many knots you tie around the irresistable force she breask free, she is the human equivalent of the recenlty on the world stage birdnest. I quite like that one!

  4. Chris Lloyd

    Naomi: “A good example of sexism still rife today was the struggle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama – the sexist rubbish from some of the media outlets was disgraceful – emphasis on her clothes, her husband,…….” You must be kidding about the husband. The only reason she was ever in consideration was Bill.
    And you know this because??Are you baiting me, or don’t you know that Hillary Clinton has been a Senator for some time, and still enjoys a lot of support. I don’t support her policies, or Barack Obama’s either. Democrat or Republican-2 sides of the same coin. They honour the corporate sector; invade other countries for wealth & power, and don’t give enough back to the millions who make the wealth,among other things.

    Incidentally, the repulsive rubbish on FOX re Michelle Obama is equally as disgusting as the sexist nonsense dished out to Hillary Clinton.

    Haven’t you guys learnt anything from this blog. It doesn’t matter how many knots you tie around the irresistible force she breaks free, she is the human equivalent of the recently on the world stage birdnest. I quite like that one!
    Yes, KEN you would!But that’s the level of your capacities isn’t it? Who’s SHE?Doesn’t SHE have a name? Can’t you remember it?
    It’s impossible for you blokes to even accept, that being female frequently equals discrimination in every facet of our lives. You’ve all reinforced your own misogynist attitudes at every turn. You either treat us like unmanageable infants or ridicule our legitimate claims as frivolous & without substance. When we respond with frustrated impatience and/or anger,you accuse us of lecturing or ?It’s obviously OK for superior beings such as yourself to be an “irresistible force” though!Yes, of course, your views are far superior aren’t they and we’re ‘naughty girls’ to continue to disagree with your belittling?

    Ann Summers summed it up with the title of her book,”Damned Whores and God’s Police”.I suggest you read it- SOON!

  5. Oh go away and ligthen up Naomi – She is a bird a little Lorikeet and she will appreciate the reference, she at least has abit of a sense of self deprecation. Grow down and try to be a little bit like a normal perosn with a sense of humorur, rather than an tired old drum beater all the time.

  6. Dolphin:

    It was only about 2 or 3 years ago. My cousins worked in an engineering office. The men who work there sound like scum to me. They work the women to death and make disgusting comments. They can give anybody a low score for the standard of dress (say 3/10) without writing down a reason.

    You get a high score only if you’re wearing a micro-miniskirt and your boobs are hanging out.

    When I went to a new dance class recently, the “professional” man running it made a reference to cobwebs being between his wife’s legs, right into the microphone, as she was trying to demonstrate some dance steps.

    Getting back to the topic of superannuation, I just got a statement that said my tiny amount of super lost 7.8% in the 2007/2008 financial year.


    I thought I was tying most of the knots. We haven’t heard from Tony again, have we?


    As a divorced person, I am very well aware of what men want, but of course not all are exactly the same. Married people live in a sheltered world.

    I suggest you guys tune in to Andrew’s “Priorities” post. Then you’ll find out how much equality is available for women, partly thanks to John Howard.

  7. Lorikeet – your cousin needs to bring this to the attention of the relavant authorities. The behaviour you describe is sexual harassment. It is illegal.

  8. LORIKEET “I suggest you guys tune in to Andrew’s “Priorities” post. Then you’ll find out how much equality is available for women, partly thanks to John Howard.” I suggest you read “The End of Equality” by Anne Summers and you’ll find out just what Howard did for women? Hardly anything of merit, except perhaps the baby bonus. Ask the women(in receipt of sole parent benefit) whose youngest child turned 8, how they coped, when they refused a job for a good reason, like lack of transport or lack of before & after school care, what it was like without an income for 8 weeks!(Howard cut funding in my area for AH school care)Or those who were penalised when their husband/partner also worked? Taxes less as women’s hours decreased(and males increased) thus ‘encouraging’ women to stay home(where she belonged was the attitude, unless she was alone?)I don’t recall many pluses that women didn’t have to fight for, including appropriate action against sexual harrassment, assault and DV! Still fighting, in fact!
    KEN-Years ago,I told a friend of my frustration,as the only one in the group(siblings/in-laws etc)who didn’t laugh at racist/sexist jokes!She said(tongue in cheek) ‘I thought you’d know that feminists don’t have a sense of humour’? I don’t recall anything here being terribly funny!Unless of course you usually laugh in such instances just mentioned?GZG-I’ve been busy watching/listening to the Games and sewing for some precious little people!My grandkids’ cousins!

  9. Tony:

    I haven’t been on a holiday.

    While you were busy trying to think of something clever to say, I was trying to finish my knitted items for the children freezing to death in the Caucasus.

    I think looking after freezing kids (probably also homeless by now due to Russian incursions) is much more important than arguing with aspiring politicians pandering to the relatively wealthy.


    Yes, even married women think their lot in life has got worse in recent times.

    I don’t give a stuff about the very spoilt Australian middle class, who don’t seem to realise how lucky they are.

  10. Naomi:

    Sorry, the last sentence was meant for Tony.


    I looked at your first link. The second was out of action.

    Yes, I’m well aware of workers being sold out, but some of those job categories weren’t affluent middle class (e.g. meatpacking, chicken processing). That would be low paid work.

    The people you generally stick up for are university educated and don’t have a clue what poverty is. They selfishly expect to get two or more segments of the golden orange, while not concerning themselves that others get none.

    A friend returned from Melbourne yesterday, where she had been looking after elderly relatives. She said she is absolutely tired of people whingeing about finances, when most of them seem to have a “holiday fund” and plenty of other self-spoiling and child-spoiling opportunities in place.

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