Minister Rishworth interview on The Latest with Angela Cox


Topics: Superannuation on Paid Parental Leave, Gender Equality Strategy

ANGELA COX, HOST: A major Paid Parental Leave commitment has just been unveiled by the Albanese Government. From July 1 next year, superannuation will be added to government payments at a rate of 12 per cent. Labor says it is part of historic reform of the scheme, a change long campaigned for by unions and the women's movement. The announcement coincides with the release of Australia's first national strategy to achieve gender equality. Let's go to Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth. On average, women retire with around 25 per cent less super than men. Do you think this announcement will close that gap?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: We hope that the announcement that we will pay superannuation on the Government Paid Parental Leave scheme will leave women with thousands of extra dollars in their superannuation account.

ANGELA COX: We are a couple of months away from the Budget, so how much are these super payments going to cost the Government and can we afford it?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We've always said that we want to make sure we can pay superannuation on Paid Parental Leave. It's kind of one of the last pieces of work that needed to be done. We have been working through the Budget process and there'll be more details on Budget night.

ANGELA COX: So we can't lock you down on a figure here tonight?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: A lot of that will come out in the Budget.

ANGELA COX: Obviously it is welcome news. But with the cost of living crisis, many new parents probably can't afford to boost their super with their own money at the moment. Why not start these super payments from this year instead?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are going to have to carefully craft the legislation. The legislation will require changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme, to also the superannuation and income legislation. And will involve major changes through the ATO and Services Australia. So we need to get all of that in place.

ANGELA COX: You've said this will help normalise taking time off work for caring responsibilities. Really reinforcing that Paid Parental Leave isn't a welfare payment. Should super payments also be included for other schemes, like the carers allowance?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think income support payments are a very important safety net to support people when they find themselves out of work and needing the Government to support them. Paid Parental Leave is a payment where you are still employed and you are taking time off to care.

ANGELA COX: So this Friday is International Women's Day, and (Thursday) the Minister for Women Katy Gallagher will release the new Gender Equality Strategy called Working For Women. What other initiatives can we expect to see?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: There will be an important focus on five areas. There will be a focus on family and domestic violence – which is violence against women – and sexual violence as well. But there will also be a focus on ensuring that we have reporting requirements on the gender pay gap, for example, which we've just seen some of those reports coming out. But the real focus will be on how we fast forward some of those initiatives that are really important to reducing the gender pay gap in this country, but also gender equality in this country as well.

ANGELA COX: Thanks so much for your time tonight, Minister Amanda Rishworth.