The government will introduce a new Superannuation Roundtable to consider ideas raised at the Tax Forum, potentially providing Australians with more options in retirement and improving certain superannuation concessions.

The decision coincides with research released by the Financial Services Council (FSC), which concludes older workers are being discriminated against in the workforce at a time when they are finding it hard to build the superannuation they need for retirement.

While a spokesperson for Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten pointed out that government is already implementing reforms to make superannuation concessions fairer for low-income earners and improve the adequacy and equity of the retirement income system, a Superannuation Roundtable is an admission that there is room for improvement.

“At the recent Tax Forum there was further discussion about building on these reforms by giving retirees more options in the drawdown or ‘post-retirement’ phase, and about better ways to target and more efficiently deliver current concessions,” said a statement from Minister Shorten’s office.

The Superannuation Roundtable aims to progress these ideas by bringing together representatives of the superannuation industry, small business, employees and the community sector, as well as technical experts and academics.

The initial task for the roundtable will be to discuss and examine better ways to target and deliver certain concessions, including offsetting savings from within the superannuation system for any proposals that have a budget cost.

The roundtable will consider compliance cost issues raised by the superannuation industry in relation to the new higher concessional contributions cap for individuals aged 50 and over who have less than $500,000 in superannuation.

Conducted by Westfield Wright for the FSC, research released this week found close to 50 per cent of over 50-year-olds said they were dissatisfied with the amount they had put aside for their retirement, with more than half of those feeling very concerned.

The study found almost three in 10 (28 per cent) older workers had experienced discrimination – being made redundant before others the most frequently cited example.

Other forms included lack of training/development opportunities, verbal abuse and inflexibility towards health and physical needs.

John Brogden, CEO of the FSC, said attitudes towards older workers needed to change because Australia was facing an aging population crisis.

“At current trends, by 2050 there will only be 2.7 working Australians for every citizen over 65. Without action, this will have serious implications for the quality of life of every Australian,” he explained.

“We need to end the concept of full time work followed by full time retirement. Australians remaining in the workforce for longer periods will stretch retirement incomes by supplementing superannuation through part-time work as well as reduce our nation’s skills shortage.”

As the second part of its mandate, the Superannuation Roundtable will examine proposals to expand options in the drawdown phase, like annuities and deferred annuities, as well as appropriate offsetting savings.

Government expects this work to be completed by December 2012.

The Superannuation Roundtable will consist of:

The Hon. Bill Shorten MP (Chair) Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation

Hazel Bateman School of Risk and Actuarial, University of New South Wales

John Brogden Chief Executive Officer, Financial Services Council

Everald Compton Chairman, Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians

Richard Denniss Executive Director, The Australia Institute

Paul Gerrans Business School, University of Western Australia

Dr Cassandra Goldie Chief Executive Officer, Australian Council of Social Service

Melinda Howes Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Actuaries Australia

Ged Kearney President, Australian Council of Trade Unions

Mark Rantall Chief Executive Officer, Financial Planning Association of Australia

Fiona Reynolds Chief Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees

Andrea Slattery Chief Executive Officer, SMSF Professionals’ Association of Australia

Peter Strong Executive Director, Council of Small Business of Australia

Pauline Vamos Chief Executive, Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia

David Whitely Chief Executive, Industry Super Network

Cate Wood Australian Association of Women in Super

Representative of the Joint Accounting Bodies

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