Completing Australia’s retirement income system

Authors: Andrew Podger and Robert Breunig

The Retirement Income Review (the Review) whose report was released in December 2020 provides a most useful evidence base for consideration of any further reform of Australia’s unique retirement income system. Its terms of reference did not allow the Review to make recommendations but its analysis provides considerable guidance suggesting in particular that the system which is now beginning to mature is ‘effective, sound and its costs are broadly sustainable’ implying that, while some refinements might be advisable, radical changes to the system are not warranted (Callaghan, Ralston, and Kay 2020).

The Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) and the Australian National University’s (ANU) Tax and Transfer Policy Institute (TTPI) hosted a roundtable in March 2021 to examine the Review’s report and to consider its implications for further reform of the system (Podger 2020). The roundtable had around 30 invited participants from academia, government and industry, all with expertise in the field. It was conducted under the Chatham House Rule to promote full and frank discussion, and to allow dissemination of information from the roundtable so long as any references to individual contributions have the individual’s clear permission. There was no attempt to obtain any endorsed policy position by roundtable participants.

This paper draws heavily on the roundtable presentations and discussions. However, it represents the authors’ views on future reforms which other participants may or may not agree with. It also draws on some subsequent discussions with some of the roundtable presenters to clarify some of the issues raised. The presentations made are attached, some updated since the roundtable, with the permission of the presenters.

Download the report


On the blog

Is Australia’s Retirement Income System Delivering on Its Potential? (16 April 2021), by Andrew Podger.

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