Friends of TTPI are invited to attend the final PhD presentation by Crawford School candidate and former TTPI Fellow Emily Millane.

Date and time: Tuesday 22 October, 5pm.

Venue: Barton Theatre, JG Crawford Building 132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Abstract: The Ghost of National Superannuation 

In this presentation I will give an overview of my thesis, which uses the case study of Australian superannuation to examine the conditions for systemic policy change. It tells the history of a modern reform, and one that has been treated with little appreciation of the long-running debates about superannuation and their connection to the system that Australians know today. A narrative of superannuation emerges from the “long history” of Australian superannuation, showing that it was less of a radical change than appearances and existing narratives suggest.

The introduction of Australia’s national superannuation system was the evolution of a welfare state whose architecture was established around the time of Australian Federation. Occupational superannuation had existed in Australia since the 1840s, old age pension schemes were introduced in NSW, Victoria and Queensland in the 1890s, and the Commonwealth Old Age Pension was introduced in 1908. Occupational superannuation was radically re-conceived and remodelled by labour reformers between the 1970s to the early 1990s to serve a broad working constituency.

The presentation follows the thesis by tracing the history of debates about government superannuation and the eventual pivot towards a state-mandated, private superannuation system, introduced by the Australian Labor Party. It also considers who benefited and who was disadvantaged by each proposal, and the international influences on policy makers in designing a superannuation system. To do this, the thesis is arranged around the points in time when the introduction of a national (government) superannuation system was considered and legislated by Australian governments. It moves through the 1890s during the old age pension debates; the 1920s and the Royal Commission on National Insurance and National Insurance legislation introduced by the Bruce government; the 1930s and the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act under which national superannuation was passed but never implemented by the Lyons government; the 1970s and the proposal for national superannuation by the Whitlam government and then, finally the introduction of the modern system in 1992 under the Keating government’s “Superannuation Guarantee.”

The history of superannuation policy is drawn into the present by looking at the period of superannuation policy between the introduction of the Superannuation Guarantee and 2019 and focusing on “choice of fund” debates as a consequence of a privatised system.

Why does systemic policy change happen when it happens? Why does reform go in one direction rather than another? Why do political parties introduce policies that their predecessors opposed in the past? The final part of the presentation will draw together the findings from the thesis to give some responses to these questions.

The presentation will be of interest to researchers and policy practitioners in superannuation policy, social welfare, welfare state change, retirement income policy and Australian economic history.


On the blog

Tinkering Can Achieve a Lot. Politics Isn’t Broken, by Emily Millane (16 Nov 2018)

What is Superannuation?, by Emily Millane (20 Aug 2018)

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