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Wait and see if super change works: govt

AAP logoAAP 23/11/2016 Belinda Merhab

The federal government insists its superannuation changes are designed to help women - but it has no modelling to prove it.

Its superannuation package cleared parliament on Wednesday after the government secured the support of the Senate crossbench.

Individuals with a super balance of more than $1.6 million will no longer be eligible to make after-tax contributions.

Non-concessional super contributions will be limited to $100,000 per year from July 1, 2017 compared to $180,000 presently, but the legislation allows for catch-up contributions, such as in the case of women returning to work after having a baby.

Labor opposed the catch-up option, arguing it would be used predominantly by men on high incomes, rather than women trying to catch up after taking breaks from the workforce.

"I don't think many women in part-time work returning from maternity leave or a period out of the work force have a lazy $25,000 or more that they seek to put into their retirement," Labor's Jenny McAllister said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the evidence was "overwhelming" the measure supported predominantly women because their work patterns were disrupted by caring for children and the elderly.

Treasury figures showed 230,000 Australians would benefit from the change in 2019/20.

But Senator Cormann conceded there was no modelling as to how many of those 230,000 would be women.

"We don't have that breakdown," he told parliament.

"Based on everything that we know about the current status of super savings in Australia our expectation is this will significantly improve flexibility and fairness of the system for women."

Asked to provide specific evidence to support the claim that women would be the big winners of the measure, Senator Cormann wasn't able to provide any.

It was "very, very difficult" to work out gender splits on measures like this one, he said.

"You might want me to put a thumb in the air and give you a number but it wouldn't be honest," he said.

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