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How workers won the right to superannuation since the 1980s


  • 1980's 35% of workers had superannuation
  • Mainly managers, executives and public sector workers
  • Not generally available for blue collar workers, women and part time staff
  • Most funds were defined benefit funds - only fully vested at 20 - 25 years
  • When leaving employment employees got only contributions less charges
  • This disadvantaged members who had short periods of service
  • Some industry funds established in the 70's, more in mid 80's

National Wage Case 1986

  • Based on negotiations between ACTU and Labor government as part of the Accord
  • In 1986 the wage case provided for 3% of the wages claim to be paid into approved super funds
  • This led to the creation of more industry funds
  • By 1988 51% of workers had super
  • 1991 - 71% of workers had super

Superannuation guarantee legislation

  • Introduced from 1 July 1992
  • Gradual increase of employer contributions to super to 9% by 2002/03
  • 1993 - 80% of workers had super
  • 1995 - 85% of workers had super

Industry funds - what made these different?

  • Accumulation schemes not defined benefit
  • Portability
  • Low cost administration
  • Fully vested - all funds plus interest are the members'
  • Employee and employer representation in fund management
  • Commitment to ensuring employer contributions are paid
  • Cheaper TDP and disability insurance
  • Superannuation members home loans


  • Industry funds have mainly outperformed similar corporate or life office products
  • Relates to lower fees, innovative investment strategies, changing the whole market industry funds work together on innovative products - economies of scale
  • Most major industry funds now have assets over $1 billion
  • Industry funds invest a higher percentage in Development Capital in Australia - growing Australia

Choice of fund

  • Requirement on employers is that they must offer a choice of super fund to employees
  • The choice must include:

  » one Retirement Savings Account (RSA) - Bank product, capital

          guaranteed, low interest, no trustee structure

  » one Public Officer Fund

  » the relevant Industry Fund

  » an in-house fund

  • Employees have 28 days to choose
  • Enterprise agreements can override this


  • Government policy on competition and choice designed to reduce industry fund power base
  • Bank RSA's will result in erosion of retirement income due to lower performance.

Adapted from ACTU







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