Opposition leader, Bill Shorten, says superannuation reform needs to focus on better utilising the $2 trillion in savings to boost productivity and infrastructure, including affordable accommodation for ageing Australians.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten

In his keynote address to the Industry Super Australia conference at Parliament House in Canberra on 21 November, Mr Shorten said national debate about superannuation reform should focus on future generations and closing gaps, not wealth management.

“Superannuation was not created to be an estate-planning tool for the very wealthy, nor a tax haven for high net-worth individuals,” he said.

“It’s something more fundamental, a pact, a social contract between government and citizens.”

“The conversation we ought to be having about super is about how we prepare the system for an Australia which will soon be home to five million people over the age of 65… how we clear away the blockages and impediments that prevent superannuation funds from investing in high-quality, productivity-boosting, nation-building infrastructure that creates good jobs.”

He said industry super funds need to be treated as partners in Australia’s growth and a visionary approach to super investment is necessary. He commended the recent purchase of Ausgrid by IFM and Australian Super as a good example of how superannuation can be used to develop vital infrastructure.

“Not just investment in infrastructure but greater investment in private equity, to help build the companies and jobs of tomorrow and greater investment in affordable housing and other ‘impact investing’ – providing good returns for members and contributing to a more just society,” he said.

“The conversation we ought to be having about super is how we address the massive gender gap in retirement savings.”

Only half of all couples and just over one in five singles are currently on track to save enough to meet the ASFA standard for a comfortable retirement, he said.