Yes, it’s been a heck of a year! Markets have been volatile, supply chains have been disrupted and energy prices are predicted to double, food prices have increased significantly. While the Russian wolf conducts its ‘special operation’, thousands die from missile attacks and thousands more will freeze to death in Ukraine as the winter comes on. And the world hungers for grain. Shadows of the Cold War appear as Russia plays poker with thinly veiled nuclear threats. It’s sad to think that Australia, as one of the largest energy exporters in the world, is suffering energy shortages. How is this so, one might ask? Could previous governments have possibly sold us out?
At home the conclusive removal of the Liberal/National Party from government was the result of their years of inaction on climate change, treatment of women and non-support of a national ICAC. They kicked their own goal when the former Prime Minister went to the Glasgow Climate Conference and refused to change the previous emission reduction targets which were set by Tony Abbott.
Their handling of workplace complaints by women, the lack of women on the front and back benches and general bullying tactics did not put them in the good books of many women which assisted the Teal candidates. On the superannuation front, the Coalition hounds were doing their best to dismantle our world class retirement savings system. Many of them are of the view that superannuation is a form of socialism which must be dismantled.
For the first time since compulsory superannuation was introduced in 1992, the LNP allowed individuals to dip into their retirement savings and withdraw money, which is not the purpose of superannuation. At election time, as they gasped their dying breath, they proposed to allow workers to dip into their super again to buy housing. It’s the government’s job to supply and create affordable housing, not individual superannuants! Oh, and did I mention RoboDebt?
Internationally, share and bond prices suffered because of the war in Europe. The last financial year brought negative returns for most default options, but thanks to the fact that super funds offer diversified investments, many members were cushioned from the sharp negatives in the share and bond markets.
And finishing off with some good news on super – the employer SG compulsory contribution has moved up to 10.5 per cent of salary and will gradually reach the magic 12 per cent. This will significantly enhance retirement account balances over a lifetime of work.
The previous $450 threshold under which employers were not obliged to pay super has been removed. This means that low-paid and casual workers will be paid super for every dollar they earn. The work test has been removed allowing individuals to contribute to their super up to age 75 subject to the contribution caps. And the regulator is now publishing tables on how funds have performed helping members to identify ‘dud’ funds which have underperformed. This increases transparency in superannuation and allows members to move out of funds which have not performed well over several years.
Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe holiday season! May the force be with you!
Bernard O’Connor (former NGS Super Company Secretary)