If the Guardian thinks something is good, it is almost certainly bad.
Just take a look at this piece telling us Kelly O’Dwyer – yes, groan Ms Hyper-regulation – is doing something good by chasing down unpaid superannuation.
There is some rubberiness in the figures – maybe $17 billion over five years, which is actually small beer considering that annual GDP is edging towards $1.8 trillion – but let’s face it, the journalists there are not good with numbers.
But Kelly is on the case and will ensure that superannuation contributions are paid at the right amount and on time. (Note that there is an element of lag in the figures; they are not always unpaid, just late.)
Now that’s all well and good but unless some miracle has occurred, this imposition will lead to job losses and/or fewer hours of work. The firms that are not paying super are generally the most marginal (and small) so there will be an inevitable disemployment effect.
As long as she realises that is what is going to happen, then fine. That the workers would actually prefer to have the 9.5 per cent wage add-on now will be disregarded. According to the journalist, those few extra dollars in superannuation now will, after exorbitant fees and charges, make life in retirement so much better.
And as for removing the $450 per month cutoff point below which super is not paid, again bear in mind that the demand for labour curve slopes downwards. This would involve a large jump of 9.5 per cent in the labour costs of these workers and a significant loss of employment/hours of work.
What O’Dwyer doesn’t seem to realise is that her campaign in relation to superannuation payments is being primarily undertaken for the benefit of the industry super funds which can’t bear to miss out on any funds inflow . But let’s face it, she is the best friend of these funds having faffed around on making any changes to the governance or default fund status with no progress likely in the future.
Here is the woeful piece from The Guardian.
This week it was $17bn – that’s billion, with a ‘b’– being the amount of superannuation entitlements the Australian Taxation Office estimates has NOT been paid to Australian workers over the past five years.
Actually, that tax office estimate is considered by experts to be low-ball. Phil Gallagher, the former director of Treasury’s retirement income modelling task force has estimated the amount of unpaid super is closer to $5.6bn a year, with 2.7 million Australians missing out on money they are entitled to.
Gallagher has mapped where those workers are, the ones being robbed of a chance of a reasonable retirement by stingy employers not paying the 9.5% of wages required to be paid as superannuation.
In effect, it’s a map of disadvantage, a directory of areas of high unemployment and low-paid or insecure work, where workers are likely to be most desperately in need of the payments to avoid a miserable old age.
This parliament may appear paralysed with ever more outlandish citizenship revelations, and by the ever more tenuous arguments in a marriage equality survey we didn’t really need to resolve the issue, but this turned out to be one area where something was actually happening.
The financial services minister, Kelly O’Dwyer, announced a long list of changes to try to force employers to pay what they owe – from requirements to report what they are actually paying more frequently to giving the tax office more powers to go after employers doing the wrong thing.
“Employers who deliberately do not pay their workers’ superannuation entitlements are robbing their workers of their wages. This is illegal and won’t be tolerated,” she said in a statement as she announced the changes. Amen to that.
With an electorate increasingly of the view that “the system” is rigged to ensure that the well-off stay that way while ordinary workers struggle, it is a mystery why the government doesn’t make more of concrete efforts such as this to make things a little bit fairer. One foot in front of the other governing. Getting things done.
When it comes to super, that could also involve revisiting the $450 a month earnings threshold below which employers don’t have an obligation to pay super.