Superannuation: a link to improved diversity on councils
Published: 16 Jul 2020 3:18pm
Wagga Wagga City Council is encouraging the community to have their say on how NSW councils manage superannuation for councillors, through an online survey.
Under Commonwealth legislation, councils are not required to make superannuation contributions for mayors and councillors, as they are not considered employees under the Commonwealth Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1993.
The local government sector has identified the lack of superannuation contributions as potentially one of the reasons fewer women and younger people stand as candidates at council elections.
To address the issue, the Office of Local Government (OLG) issued the Councillor Superannuation Discussion Paper seeking the views of councils and their local communities on whether councillors should receive superannuation payments in addition to their fees. Council’s online survey will gather the local community’s views, which will be reported back to the OLG.
Manager Governance & Risk Ingrid Hensley said the issue was an important one to consider before the next council elections in September 2021.
“Women, people from diverse backgrounds, and younger people have been historically underrepresented on local councils across NSW,” Ms Hensley said.
“The lack of superannuation payments may be a barrier to people standing for council – particularly women, as they’ve often accumulated less superannuation. This is generally because of time spent out of the workforce caring for their families and because women are much more likely to be employed in casual and part-time work. There are also men in the community who are primary carers and who would be impacted by any potential change to the current provisions.
“Reviewing options for enabling mayors and councillors to access superannuation is a relevant consideration in addressing this barrier and encouraging a more diverse council.”
Currently, mayors and councillors can voluntarily contribute a portion of their fees to a superannuation fund of their choice. If the Act were amended, making it compulsory for councils to pay superannuation, the cost would be met by each council out of its existing budget.
Ms Hensley said Council’s superannuation survey was part of a wider process reviewing ways to promote diversity in community leadership.
“We’re also seeking community feedback on our draft Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy, which aims to ensure councillors aren’t financially disadvantaged by undertaking civic duties,” Ms Hensley said.
“It’s important that potential candidates can see what provisions are in place if they get elected, and that the community can see what expenses we’ll reimburse councillors for.
“By making these things clear, we’re hoping to support councillors from different backgrounds and life situations – for example the policy includes a provision relating to financial reimbursement for councillors with carer responsibilities, while undertaking their civic duties.”
Council’s superannuation survey also asks the question: would superannuation be a consideration for you in running for council?
“It’s important to remember that being a councillor is a time-intensive job,” Ms Hensley said.
“The time spent undertaking civic duties may, for some members of the community, mean less time spent in other paid employment where they receive superannuation.
“As a community, we need to make the process transparent to assist a wide range of people to stand for council. Part of that is taking the time to stop and review current practices, and see if they align with community expectations and a contemporary approach.”
Councillor superannuation and expenses: have your say
How should NSW councils manage councillor superannuation?
Take the 60-second survey at connect.wagga.nsw.gov.au/councillorsuper
The survey is open until 1 August 2020.
You can also submit feedback directly to the Office of Local Government at
Locked Bag 3015
NOWRA NSW 2541
Councillor Expenses and Facilities Policy
Open for feedback until 10 August 2020.