AUSTRALIA - The introduction of superannuation changes last year have mostly benefited those on average or higher incomes, a report from accounting body CPA Australia has revealed.
It said superannuation was now more accessible, benefit options were more flexible and incentives for increasing retirement savings had improved.
From 1 July 2007, the former Howard government introduced a number of changes, including making superannuation benefits paid from a taxed fund, either as a lump sum or as an income stream such as a pension, tax-free for people aged 60 and over.
Benefits paid from an untaxed scheme (mainly public servants) are still taxed, although at a lower rate for people aged 60 and over. Individuals were also given more flexibility about how and when to draw down their superannuation in retirement.
However, the CPA Australia report found the changes were not benefiting those on low incomes as much as average and higher income earners.
It also showed adequate retirement savings would still only be a reality where individuals enjoyed 40 years of compulsory superannuation savings and were in a position to make voluntary savings.
Michael Davison, superannuation policy adviser at CPA Australia, said more needed to be done for Australians who didn't fit the mould.
He said: "Women, people with broken work patterns, those forced into early retirement, and non-home owners will find it difficult in retirement.
"We believe there are opportunities for the government and the superannuation industry to work together to address these needs."
The report came as research from investment consultant Watson Wyatt showed the assets of Australian superannuation funds had increased to AUS$1.07trn (US$0.964trn) at the end of 2007, up $125bn from the previous year.
The Watson Wyatt 2008 Global Pensions Assets Study also showed Australian superannuation fund assets had increased on average by 14% per annum over the past 10 years, and these assets were now equivalent to around 105% of the value of Australia's GDP.
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