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Employees didn’t receive promised wage rise from SG freeze

By Sarah Kendell
06 February 2020 — 1 minute read

The theory that freezing the super guarantee would free up business capital to provide better wage rises for employees has been debunked by new research from think tank Per Capita, which revealed the money lost in workers’ super accounts since the freeze of the SG was significantly more on average than wage rises since that time.

Per Capita’s report, called The Super Freeze: What You’ve Lost, analysed the average gain to Australian workers’ super accounts that would have occurred if the SG had risen to 12 per cent, rather than being frozen at 9.5 per cent in 2014 by the Coalition government.

The analysis found a worker on the full-time median wage had lost $4,332.99 in super over the past five years, while they had gained $3,432 in nominal wage increases. Adjusting for inflation based on today’s prices, however, median wages had actually gone backwards by $1,092, the group said.


Per Capita executive director and the report’s lead author, Emma Dawson, said the group had developed the research in order to quantify the cost to employees of foregoing SG increases.

“On any objective measure, workers have suffered a significant loss in net income since the SG freeze,” Ms Dawson said.

“This is rightfully workers’ money and they deserve to know exactly what they have lost. Instead of going into the pockets of workers, as the government promised it would, those lost super savings have been pocketed by employers.”

At the time of the SG’s freeze in 2014, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament that as a result of this decision, “that money that would otherwise be squirrelled away in super funds will instead be in the pockets of the workers of Australia”.

At a Crescent Think Tank event late last year, former ACTU secretary and one of the super system’s key architects, Bill Kelty, said the lack of subsequent SG increases amounted to “stealing money off decent working people” and expressed suspicion that the government’s retirement income inquiry had been designed to prevent the SG from rising in the future.

Employees didn’t receive promised wage rise from SG freeze
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