19 September 2011
According to the Australian Taxation Office, Australians have around $19 billion in lost superannuation accounts. That is a bit over $1,000 for every adult in the country. Lost superannuation accounts arise when people change jobs and forget to update their superannuation accounts or when they take a career break. When you have your money spread across more accounts, you might end up paying excess fees or having your money invested in the wrong assets. Many people never claim lost superannuation so they do not enjoy the standard of living in retirement that is rightfully theirs. If superannuation is a nest egg then lost superannuation is like those eggs at the bottom of the garden that you never find at the end of a treasure hunt.
To address the issue of lost superannuation, Chris Bourke MLA suggested that he and I run a campaign to let Canberrans know how to find their lost superannuation. Chris pointed out that lost superannuation is a particular problem in postcode 2615. In that postcode alone – which covers suburbs like Dunlop, Holt, Flynn, Melba, Spence and Macgregor – there is $45 million in lost superannuation. So we launched a campaign to let Canberrans know about the ATO SuperSeeker website and the hotline (13 28 65).
In Civic we chatted to a part-time actor, who had recently found $6,000 in lost superannuation from a previous job. In Kippax we met Kevin Rourke, who had read about our campaign in the Northside Chronicle. Kevin logged on to our laptop on Saturday and found lost superannuation for a job he had as a panel beater in the mid-1980s. The employer had died and Kevin had not known which superannuation fund he had put the money in. Thanks to the ATO’s SuperSeeker website, Kevin has been reunited with his retirement savings from a quarter of a century ago.
My thanks go to Louise Crossman and Barbara Phi from my office and Margaret Watt from Chris Bourke’s office, who came up with the idea. I am also grateful to Lisa Mosley from WIN News, who helped us publicise the campaign locally. Quote of the day went to a shopper outside Charnwood Woolworths. Chris Bourke said to her, ‘Did you know there is $45 million in lost superannuation in this postcode alone?’ Quick as a flash, she replied, ‘I’ll take it!’
Finally, I want to use this chance to mention Eddie Sharp, who had been selling the Big Issue magazine in Canberra for over a year, working through the Woden Community Service. Eddie came up to say g’day when we launched the superannuation campaign in Civic. We were shocked to learn that he died of a heart attack the next day. Eddie was just 44. My condolences go to his family and his large circle of friends for their loss.