Got a spare $30K to pop into your super after a baby? Didn't think so.

“The average superannuation payout for Australian women is about a third of that of men.”

Who has more than $30 000 spare to put into superannuation, especially when you’re just returning to work after having a baby or caring for a family member?

I’d say pretty much no one. But the Turnbull Government seems to think differently.

“I just introduced a bill to address the whopping 17.9% gender pay gap by ending gag clauses in contracts.” (Image: Facebook)

Currently, workers can voluntarily put up to $30,000 extra into their superannuation and have those contributions taxed at a lower rate. The Turnbull Government has floated the idea of raising that amount for women returning to work after having a baby or carers returning to work. But very few of these women or carers would have more than $30,000 (or even a much smaller amount) to spare as a voluntary super top up to take advantage of the lower tax rate.

The government says the move is a way to address the gender superannuation gap. The average superannuation payout for Australian women is about a third of that of men. While it’s great the government is thinking about the super gender gap, just encouraging self-funded super top ups alone is only going to help very wealthy women. Women on low incomes are the ones who suffer from the gender super gap the most.

Malcolm Turnbull 720x547
Senators Waters is glad the Government is planning to address the gender-based super gap, but warns that changes should not be targeted at wealthy women. Image via Getty.

Last year, Tony Abbott scrapped the low income super contribution from 2017 onwards, which will hurt half of all working Australian women and 80 per cent of women working on a part-time or casual basis. If the Turnbull Government is serious about closing the super gender gap, for all women, not just wealthy ones, it should at the very least bring back the low income super contribution.

More broadly, the Greens’ door is open to discuss our plan announced in February 2015 for progressive superannuation tax rates which close tax loopholes for the very wealthy and would boost low income earners’ super balances by taxing them less.

Given women, on average, have much less super than men, our plan for progressive super tax rates, will help close the gender super gap. This will allow more women to live with dignity with a decent income in their retirement, after a lifetime of taking on most of the unpaid caring and domestic work in their families.

“This will allow more women to live with dignity with a decent income in their retirement.”

We need to address the fact that still in Australia today, women are expected to perform the bulk of unpaid caring and domestic work. This limits their opportunities for paid work, where they can accumulate super. Parts of the solution include affordable childcare, paid parental leave for fathers and flexible workplace hours.

I hope the government’s brain blip earlier this week, which would only help very wealthy women, isn’t all they’re proposing to fix the super gender gap.

Queensland Senator Larissa Waters is the Australian Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for women.