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Home > News > 2019 > July > Federal Government lets super thieves off the hook

Federal Government lets super thieves off the hook

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has slammed the backflip which saw the Morrison government once again side with superannuation thieves only hours after ditching a policy that would have seen them let off the hook.

super_theft_v2.pngDespite removing the provisions that would see nearly three decades’ worth of super theft go entirely un-punished from its latest bill, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg later released a statement reversing that reversal, saying that giving super thieves a free pass “remains government policy”. 

The ACTU has called on the government to consider reversing its position a final time. 

The proposed Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Superannuation Measures No.1) Bill 2018, allows employers to access a one-time, 12-month amnesty on historical underpayments of employee superannuation. 

ACTU condemns decision

ACTU Assistant Secretary Scott Connolly said the bill favours “dodgy” bosses, rather than the approximately 2.9 million Australian people who have worked hard for a good retirement. 

“We are facing a wage and superannuation theft crisis in this country,” said Connolly

“After flirting with sensible policy, the Treasurer has made a stunningly disappointing reversal and decided to back super thieves after all. 

“There is no excuse to let people who’ve helped themselves to working people’s retirement savings over the last 27 years off the hook.

“The Government has chosen to side with the George Calombarises of the world, who feel free to help themselves to wages and retirement savings that belong to their workers, rather than backing working people. 

“We are calling on the Treasurer to reverse his position once more, and to implement measures that would allow workers who’ve have super stolen to access quick, low-cost redress within the workplace jurisdiction, in addition to the current Australian Taxation Office (ATO) enforcement mechanisms.”

The ACTU are calling for urgent reform including bringing the superannuation guarantee into the Fair Work Act and allowing workers and their unions to commence recovery proceedings where super is unpaid, as the ATO cannot do it alone. 

Nearly $6 billion of unpaid super each year

Industry Super Australia (ISA), the umbrella group for industry super funds, estimates workers lose a combined total of $5.9 billion a year in unpaid superannuation, in an analysis of Australian Taxation Office 2017/18 data.  

This would amount to $60 billion cumulatively over ten years.

As many as one in three workers are currently being robbed of their super by their employer, the analysis found. 

It also highlighted a loophole in the law where if workers choose to salary sacrifice and contribute to their super, employers then ‘count’ that as their super guarantee payment for that worker. 

IEAU-QNT Branch Secretary, Terry Burke said workers need access to an efficient and effective process of recovering unpaid super. 

“The current system is clearly failing, and employees need to work collectively in their unions to address this,” Mr Burke said. 

Women most at risk

“Our union continues to fight for fair and equitable superannuation provisions for all. 

“Women are adversely affected by inadequate super as they are more likely to take career breaks to care for children or close family members. 

“Our members have started to secure agreements that provide super payments during parental leave, but there is still more we can do. 

“We are fighting to get this provision into all agreements and to remove the $450 minimum monthly earning before super is payable, to protect lower income earners.”

Our union has fought hard for fair superannuation entitlements since our establishment. 

This includes taking our employers to a full bench of the State Industrial Commission to ensure they paid the three percent compulsory superannuation contribution in 1988 and the momentous 12.75% super campaign in 2002. 


Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.