Stirling Civic Gardens

A Western Australian Council has announced its Elected Members will receive superannuation, which will bring them in line with elected officials at State and Federal levels, as well as councillors in other states and territories.

The City of Stirling Council resolved unanimously to become an eligible governing body under the Commonwealth Taxation Administration Act 1953, which treats Elected Members as employees for the purposes of superannuation and other tax-related matters.

The City has driven reform to enable superannuation since 2021, working with the Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) to advocate for the sector.

Although the State Government has indicated its agreement that Elected Members should receive superannuation, it has not yet been prioritised in the first tranche of local government reforms adopted by State Parliament.

City of Stirling Mayor, Mark Irwin, acknowledged the strong support for this change across the sector and within the State Government, but that inaction had led the City to take matters into its own hands.

“Last night Council unanimously agreed to introduce superannuation contributions for Elected Members because it is important for our City – and for councils across the state – to attract and retain quality, highly skilled candidates and Councillors,” Mr Irwin said.

“Serving on Council has a significant impact on someone’s work and personal life, and the State Government has said there is merit in any measures that would act to increase participation and drive greater diversity among Elected Members.

“If we are serious about attracting more young people, more women and more diversity into representing the community in local government, then we should address the fact they are among the only professionals in Western Australia who are not paid superannuation.

“Not having superannuation acts as a disincentive to a diverse field of candidates with professional contributions, skills, talent and resources who could enact positive change in their community.”

The City of Stirling expects other local governments may consider following suit after the City’s decision to bring the sector into line with other elected officials and almost all other industries.

In Australia, women typically have lower superannuation balances than men for a variety of reasons. A report released by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work in March, coinciding with International Women’s Day, indicated that women may have up to $136,000 less than men in their superannuation balances at the time of retirement.

Figures from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey reveal that the median super balance for men aged over 55 from non-English speaking countries is $50,000, while for women, it can be as low as $28,500. 

 

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