A2.1 The table below provides a brief overview of the development of labour laws in New South Wales.

Table A.2.1: Timeline of industrial relations in NSW




Master & Servants Act 1828 (England) permitted employers to prosecute any employee who refuses to work, or who loses or damages the employer's possessions. Maximum penalty 6 months prison.


Eight hour day, stonemasons became the first NSW workers to win an 8 hour working day.


Rise of unionism. NSW's first trade unions commenced forming and recruiting members.


Trades & Labour Council of NSW formed on 25 May 1871.


Trade Union Act 1881 recognised NSW trade unions for the first time as being distinct corporate organisations.


NSW Labour Bureau established and was the first NSW Government agency to deal with employment-related issues, predominantly focused on providing job opportunities and accommodation for the unemployed. In 1895 the Bureau was absorbed into the NSW Department of Public Instruction.


Factories and Shops Act 1896 was the first comprehensive regulation of working conditions in factories, shops and other industrial establishments. The legislation restricted the working hours of women and children.


Early Closing Act 1899 restricted the length of working hours for all employees.


Truck Act 1900 required the payment of wages in money, and prohibited employers from influencing how employees spent wages.


Industrial Arbitration Act 1901, first 'modern' industrial relations statute came into force in December 1901. A separate arbitration court was established, with binding arbitration powers. Apprentices Act 1901 created the basis for the administration of all apprenticeships in NSW and reduced the hours of apprentices to a maximum of 48 per week. Shearers' Accommodation Act 1901 set standards for the accommodation of shearers and others engaged in pastoral occupations.


Basic wage set for male employees only. The Federal Harvester Case established a basic wage for male workers on the basis of their 'breadwinner' status. In the 1912 Fruitpickers Case the Federal Commission rejected an argument that male and female basic wage be equal. These decisions were followed by all Australian industrial relations tribunals.


Industrial Disputes Act 1908 replaced the 1901 Industrial Arbitration Act and introduced "Wages Boards" that could determine pay and conditions applying across all industries.


The Attorney General continued to administer industrial relations legislation until 1911, when the Minister for Labour and Industry took up this responsibility.


The Department of Labour & Industry was created, marking the first time employment relations were regulated by a separate government department in NSW. Industrial Arbitration Act 1912 replaced the 1908 Industrial Disputes Act. The Industrial Disputes Act 1912 saw the introduction of the wages boards, which regulated pay and conditions for workers.


Eight Hours Act 1916 created a standard 48 hour working week.


Basic female wage was established. The basic female wage was 54% of the male basic wage.


Forty-four Hours Week Act 1926 reduced the standard working week to 44 hours. Workmen's Compensation Act 1926 introduced NSW's first 'modern' compensation scheme for workers injured at work. Rural Workers' Accommodation Act 1926 replaced, modernised and extended the coverage of the Shearers' Accommodation Act 1901.


Shop registration was introduced. The licensing of shops and the regulation of shop trading hours was introduced under the Factories and Shops Act 1901.


Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 replaced the 1912 Act. This legislation further modernised the framework for NSW industrial relations.


Annual Holidays Act 1944 introduced a standard entitlement to 2 weeks holiday leave for each completed year of service. In 1958, this entitlement increased to three weeks leave per annum.


Forty hour working week introduced. Amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 reduced the standard working week to 40 hours.


Long Service Leave Act 1955 introduced a standard entitlement to 13 weeks long service leave after 20 years of service.


Equal pay. NSW became one of the first Australian States to legislate for equal pay for male and female workers.


Unfair contracts regulated. Amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 enabled the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to alter or void any contracts involving work performed in any industry. These provisions then covered most forms of individual contracts for the performance of work, including franchise arrangements.


Long service leave improved and extended. Standard entitlements increased to 3 months leave after 15 years service. New legislation was introduced extending long service leave entitlements to the metalliferous mining industry.


State Equal Pay Decision. The NSW Industrial Relations Commission handed down its equal pay decision.


Annual holiday entitlements increased. Following a test case decision by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission, the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 was amended to introduce a standard entitlement of 4 weeks leave for each year of service.


Employment agents regulated. Amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 introduced a scheme for the licensing of private employment agents. A portable long service payments scheme for workers in the building and construction industry in New South Wales was also established and administered by the former Builders Licensing Board - now part of the Department of Fair Trading.


Anti Discrimination Act 1977. Discrimination in employment on the grounds of sex, race and marital status was made unlawful. Grounds for unlawful discrimination were subsequently expanded to include age, disability, sexual harassment and family responsibilities as well as race, homosexual, HIV and transgender vilification.


Transport industry workers covered. Amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 enabled the NSW Commission to regulate contracts of carriage (couriers) and contracts of bailment (taxi-drivers). The Department of Labour and Industry was abolished and a new Department of Industrial Relations and Technology was formed.


Re-named the Department of Industrial Relations.
Industrial Arbitration Act
amended to provide a standard 12 months unpaid maternity leave. Later expanded to include paternity and adoption leave and, in 2000, to allow leave to be taken by regular and systematic casual employees.


Apprentices Act 1981 replaced the Apprentices Act 1901 with a modern system for the regulation of apprenticeships in NSW.


Employment Protection Act 1982 created minimum redundancy entitlements for NSW workers under awards.


Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983. New occupational health and safety (OH&S) regime introduced, placing greater OH&S obligations on employers and employees and focussed upon injury prevention strategies, employee involvement in OH&S matters and new penalties for breaches of the legislation.


Long service leave entitlements increased to two months leave after 10 years of service.


As a result of an amalgamation with the Ministry of Employment in 1986, the Department became known as the Department of Industrial Relations and Employment.


Workers’ Compensation Act 1987. Fundamental reforms to the workers’ compensation system were introduced to reduce costs to employers. Amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 introduced new protections against dismissal for employees whilst receiving workers' compensation benefits.


Essential Services Act 1988 protected the NSW community from disruption to essential services.


Industrial & Commercial Training Act 1989 replaced the Apprentices Act 1981 and introduced an integrated administration system for apprenticeships and traineeships. Entertainment Industry Act 1989 replaced various arrangements under the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 with a new scheme to partially self-regulate the licensing of NSW theatrical agents and employers under the auspices of the NSW Entertainment Industry Council. John Fahey, the Minister for Industrial Relations and Employment in the Greiner Government, prepared an Information Paper announcing an overhaul of NSW's Industrial Relations system.

The occupational health and safety functions were transferred out of the Department to join with the state Compensation Board and form the Workcover Authority of NSW.


Re-named to become the Department of Industrial Relations, Employment, Training and Further Education, to reflect a focus on vocational education and training.


Unfair dismissal laws reformed by amendments to the Industrial Arbitration Act 1940 introduced to allow individual access and compensation for NSW workers who were unfairly dismissed.


Industrial Relations Act 1991 introduced enterprise bargaining, voluntary unionism and increased penalties for industrial action.


NSW anti-discrimination legislation was amended to make awards and agreements subject to anti-discrimination legislation.


Employment, Training and Further Education functions were transferred out to the Department of Training and Education Coordination and the name changed back to the Department of Industrial Relations.


Industrial Relations Act 1996 replaced the Industrial Relations Act 1991.


Regulations made excluding certain classes of employees from unfair dismissal jurisdiction.


Report of the Pay Equity Inquiry confirms that work in certain female dominated industries was undervalued.


NSW Industrial Relations Commission adopts the Equal Remuneration Principle as a wage fixing principle.

Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2000 makes wide ranging amendments to the Act including:

  • Right of Federal award employees to make unfair dismissal claims to NSW Industrial Relations Commission;
  • Parental leave rights for casual employees; and
  • Establishing in victimisation proceedings a rebuttable presumption that any detrimental action taken against any employee was victimisation.


Amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1996 limits applications under unfair contracts provisions.

First pay equity decision increases rates of pay in public sector librarians' award on basis that there had been a history of undervaluation of work in a traditionally female dominated industry.


Ethical Clothing Trades Act sets up Ethical Clothing Trades Council to advise on compliance with work related obligations to outworkers in the clothing industry. The Industrial Relations Act 1996 was amended to provide for recovery of moneys unpaid or underpaid to outworkers.

Report on review of the first five years of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 tabled in Parliament.

Industrial Relations Act 1996 amended to regulate the conduct of industrial agents, who are neither legal practitioners nor officers or members of industrial organisations.


Industrial Relations Act 1996 amended to extend the adoption leave provisions of the Act (12 months unpaid leave) to parents who adopt children under 18 years of age. Department of Industrial Relations abolished and the new Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) was created under the Department of Commerce.


1 July 2005: The Ethical Clothing Trades Extended Responsibility Scheme comes into effect. The mandatory code protects outworkers and requires clothing retailers to source clothes from manufacturers who abide by NSW award conditions when using outworkers.

7 October 2005: The Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 prohibits spying on employees using technologies including video cameras, email and tracking devices.

19 December 2005: The NSW Industrial Relations Commission handed down its General Order in the Family Provisions Case 2005. This case varied all NSW awards to include:

  • Extended use of sick leave for caring responsibilities when a family or household member is sick.
  • Casuals can access unpaid leave to meet their caring responsibilities.
  • Increase simultaneous unpaid parental leave to eight weeks
  • Extending unpaid parental leave from 52 weeks to 104 weeks
  • Permitting an employee to return from parental leave on a part-time basis until the child reaches school age.


28 February 2006: In the Secure Employment Test Case, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission establishes a right for casuals to convert to permanent employment after a period of six months of employment.

March 2006: The Public Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Act 2006 protects more than 186,000 NSW public sector staff employees of the Crown from the impact of the previous Federal government's Work Choices legislation.

10 March 2006: The Industrial Relations Amendment Act 2006 extended powers of the NSW Industrial Relations Commission to hear disputes referred to it pursuant to common law agreements between employers and employees.

27 March 2006: The previous Federal government's Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Act 2006 commences. Rights and responsibilities for employers who are 'constitutional corporations' employing staff in NSW are now under Federal jurisdiction.

NSW industrial relations laws continue to apply to unincorporated businesses, such as sole traders, partnerships or trusts, and corporations that do not engage in significant financial or trading activities (eg not-for-profit organisations).

14 November 2006: High Court of Australia hands down its decision on a challenge by all state and Territory Governments, upholding the constitutional validity of the previous Federal government's Work Choices laws.

23 November 2006: The Legislative Council Standing Committee on Social Issues hands down its final report, finding that Work Choices should be repealed. Failing that, the Committee called on the NSW Government to take action to 'ameliorate' its effects.

1 December 2006: Industrial Relations (Child Employment) Act 2006 commences to protect the employment and conditions of young people aged under 18 employed by constitutional corporations. NSW Industrial Relations Commission commences proceedings to set principles for establishing whether such a child has suffered a net detriment as compared to the state award that would apply to the child's work.


7 June 2007: Legislation introduced to state Parliament to ensure workplace entitlements for Sydney workers are protected during the APEC holiday. Industrial and Other Legislation Amendment (APEC Public Holiday) Bill 2007

24 November 2007: Federal election is won by the Labor government, who announces that it intends to implement its Forward With Fairness industrial relations policy, with transitional legislation expected early 2008.


13 February 2008: The Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Bill 2008 was introduced into Parliament. The Bill included amendments [to] the Workplace Relations Act 1996 to make a number of changes to the framework for workplace agreements, and to enable the process of award modernisation to commence.

25 November 2008: Deputy Prime Minister and Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard introduced the Fair Work Bill into the Commonwealth Parliament.


1 July 2009: The Commonwealth Government's Fair Work Act 2009 commences, repealing the Workplace Relations Act 1996. Components of the new Fair Work Act and Fair Work Regulations apply to all corporations and businesses in the national workplace relations system.

Changes that commenced on 1 July 2009 include:

  • New unfair dismissal laws
  • New national agencies, Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman, which replace the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, the Workplace Authority and the Workplace Ombudsman
  • New enterprise agreement options
  • Good-faith bargaining requirements
  • Transfer of business laws
  • New union right of entry laws

December 2009: The NSW Government announces that NSW will join the national industrial relations system from 1 January 2010, meaning that the Commonwealth's Fair Work Act 2009 will cover every private sector employer and employee in NSW.

The NSW referral bill was passed in NSW Parliament on 1 December 2009 and The Commonwealth Parliament voted to pass the state Referrals bill on 2 December 2009.


1 January 2010: Final parts of Fair Work Act commence. This includes the new modern award system and the ten new National Employment Standards (NES).

1 July 2010: In many modern awards, pay rates and some loading / penalty rates will start to be phased in. Changes to pre-existing rates may be phased in over 5 annual instalments. Fair Work Australia’s first national minimum wage order to be completed.


1 July 2012: The Public Sector Employment and Management (Mental Health Commission and Other Matters) Order 2012 No 270 transferred the industrial relations powers in the Public Sector Employment and Management Act 2002 from the Director General of the Department of Premier and Cabinet to the Director General of the Department of Finance and Services. The transfer excluded powers relating to special temporary employees.

Source: NSW Industrial Relations, Timeline of Industrial Relations (31 August 2011) <http://www.industrialrelations.nsw.gov.au/oirwww/About_NSW_IR/Timeline_of_Industrial_Relations.page>.

A2.2 The table below provides a brief overview of the development of superannuation and retirement income in Australia.

Table A.2.2: Timeline of superannuation and retirement income in Australia




New South Wales introduced a means tested age pension of 26 a year, funded out of general revenue.

Victoria and Queensland followed suit.


The Constitution gave the Commonwealth explicit power to legislate for provision of old age and invalid pensions.

10 June 1908

Invalid and Old Age Pensions Act 1908 passed by the Deakin Government. Rate 26 per year (10/- a week). Eligibility limited according to character, race, age, residency and means. Paid to eligible men and women at 65. Commenced 15 April 1909.


Pension age for eligible women reduced to 60.


1908 Act amended to completely remove the family home from the means test.


Income Tax Assessment Act 1915 provided for tax deductibility of employer contributions made on behalf of employees, and for the exemption of superannuation fund earnings from taxation.


Bruce Government established a Royal Commission to examine the possibility of having a comprehensive national insurance scheme for retirement, sickness or disability.


National Insurance Bill introduced. It lapsed in 1929 when the Government was defeated.


National Health and Pensions Bill passed, but its introduction was delayed, then abandoned because of World War 2.


Chifley Government introduced an additional levy on personal income tax which, along with a payroll tax from employers, was credited to the National Welfare Fund. There was, however, no direct link between contributions and benefits and the pension. The National Welfare Fund, whilst set up as a means of establishing a base from which a national superannuation fund could be operated, was in practice merely an accounting device until its abolition in 1985.


Superannuation funds exempt from tax if they held required amounts of Commonwealth Bonds. Commonwealth control of superannuation funds by use of taxation power firmly established.


High Court upholds Commonwealth s ability to control superannuation fund investment by use of taxation power.

By late 1960s

Means assessed on basis of income plus a proportion of countable assets except for the family home (which has always been assets-test-exempt.) About 70% of people qualifying on grounds of age received the pension.


Only 32% of workers covered by superannuation.


Whitlam Labor Government established the National Superannuation Committee of Inquiry. Chairman Keith Hancock.


Means test for pensioners 75 years of age and over abolished.


Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted the first national survey of superannuation coverage. 32% of the workforce was covered by superannuation 36% male; 15% females.

24% of people in the private sector had super cover compared with 58% in the public sector.


Means test removed for persons aged 70 to 74 inclusive.


Pensions linked to 25% of average weekly earnings, to be indexed annually.


Pensions became subject to automatic increases twice yearly.

Age pension assets test abolished.


The Hancock Inquiry recommended a partially contributory, universal pension system with an earnings-related supplement. A minority recommendation suggested a
non-contributory flat rate universal pension, a means tested supplement, and encouragement of voluntary savings through expanding occupational superannuation.

20 June 1977

Fraser government decides not to establish a contributory national superannuation scheme.


Pension increases to be adjusted only once a year (in November). Future increases in the Age Pension for those aged 70 or over made subject to an income test.


Fraser Government rejected the recommendations of the Hancock Inquiry.

Pension increases subject to twice yearly increases, in May and November.

May 1983

Base pension for those aged 70 and over subject to an incomes test.


The Statement of Accord (Prices and Incomes Accord) between the ALP and the ACTU was endorsed in February, shortly before the Federal election. Claims for wage increases were to be restricted to movements in the CPI.


Hawke Labor Government expressed support for the principles of employee superannuation.

The May Economic Statement began the process of reform of the taxation of superannuation. For lump sums at age 55 or later, the first $50,000 would be taxed at 15%; the remainder at 30%. Lump sums taken below age 55 would be taxed at 30%. These thresholds indexed to AWOTE.


CBUSS - Superannuation for the building industry created, from an idea shared by building union leaders and ACTU officials. Regarded as a world first. (funds owned and controlled by a board comprising equal numbers of employer and employee or union representatives.) A number of other similar funds established in the following years- These funds are called Industry Funds.


Age pension assets test reintroduced. Family home excluded.


Renegotiation of the Accord identified superannuation as a key issue.


Labor joined with the ACTU in seeking a universal 3% superannuation contribution by employers to be paid into an industry fund, in lieu of a wage rise.


Accord Mk II between the Government and the unions stipulated that compensation to employees should be 6% (to keep pace with inflation). This was to be 3% employer superannuation contribution, a 2% wage rise, and tax cuts.

Agreement endorsed by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission February 1986.


Employer groups, including the Confederation of Australian Industry, challenged the Commission s decision in the High Court, claiming that superannuation was not an industrial matter within s.51 (xxxv) of the Constitution.

15 May 1986

High Court ruled in favour of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission.

June 1986

National Wage Case established guidelines to require new industry superannuation schemes to conform to Commonwealth operational standards.


Insurance and Superannuation Commission (ISC) was established as an industry regulator.


Superannuation funds total assets $41.1bn.[1]

21 December 1987

The Government introduced the Occupational Superannuation Standards Act 1987 (OSSA).

Operating standards were prescribed for the vesting of benefits from employer and employee contribution; preservation of benefits until age 55; more member involvement in the control of superannuation funds; security of members benefits.[2]

May 1988

Hawke Government statement Reform of the Taxation of Superannuation contained measures to bring forward payment of superannuation taxation liabilities by introducing a tax on contributions and reducing tax on benefits. Reasonable Benefits Limits introduced.

June 1988

51.3% employed persons covered by Superannuation


The Government's 1989 retirement income policy statement established a policy in Australia based on the "twin pillars" of the age pension and private superannuation, specifically rejecting the option of a National Superannuation Scheme.

December 1989

Superannuation funds total assets $119bn

December 1990

Superannuation fund assets $123bn, 64% of all employees had superannuation coverage.


In the Budget, Treasurer John Kerin announced that from 1 July 1992 , under a new system to be known as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), employers would be required to make superannuation contributions on behalf of their employees.

March 1992

Superannuation Assets estimated to be $148bn.

June 1992

Senate Select Committee on Superannuation presents its first report. This Senate Committee, in various forms, reviewed and issued reports on various superannuation issues up to the end of the 40th Parliament (2004). Many of these reports led to significant changes in the superannuation system.


Labor Government implemented the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), which extended retirement savings to 72 % of workers.

Employers were required to make prescribed contributions on behalf of their employees to a complying superannuation fund.

Super contributions were to be progressively increased between 1992-2002, from 3% to 9%.


Labor Government overhauls regulation of superannuation with introduction of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS Act). The OSSA continues in force but many of its provisions are repealed and transferred to the SIS Act.


World Bank endorses Australia s three pillar system for the provision of retirement income as world’s best practice.

June 1993

Superannuation assets reaches $169bn

June 1993

FitzGerald report advocates increasing household savings via superannuation, but recommends that national savings be increased by increasing public sector savings. Superannuation s role in increasing national savings no longer seen as important. This is a significant change in the policy rational for superannuation system.

November 1993

80% of employed persons either made superannuation contributions or had them made on their behalf.


Pension age for eligible women to be raised to 65, in a phased process.

June 1994

Superannuation assets $183bn


In the 1995 budget speech Treasurer Ralph Willis outlined plans to pay previously announced tax cuts into employee s superannuation funds. Government to make matching contributions. The principal of matching government superannuation
co-contributions established.


Shadow Treasurer Peter Costello called for employee choice and for funds to compete for business

March 1995

Superannuation Assets $187bn.

June 1995

80.5 % employed persons covered by superannuation

June 1996

Superannuation assets $245.3bn, 37.9% of GDP

20 August 1996

Superannuation Surcharge introduced by Treasurer Peter Costello in the Howard Government s first budget.


Wallis Financial System Inquiry, established by Treasurer Costello in May 1996, advocated superannuation choice and other changes to the superannuation system.


Age pension to be formally maintained at 25% AWOTE.

Retirement savings accounts (RSA) established.

Superannuation surcharge implemented.

Maximum age for SG contributions increased from 65 to 70.


Limited access to superannuation possible on compassionate grounds.

June 1997

Superannuation assets $321.0bn, 47.7% of GDP, 81% were covered by superannuation.

9 December 1997

Limited access to superannuation possible if member is in severe financial hardship. This is defined as being in receipt of commonwealth income support for a continuous period of 26 weeks or a cumulative period of 39 weeks.


Age pension means test for retirement income streams revised. Pension Bonus scheme introduced. A person could accrue a pension bonus payment by deferring claiming the pension while still working.


Reforms to business taxation, including proposals to reduce the CGT rate for super funds to 10%


Australian Prudential Regulation Authority established on 1 July 1998 . APRA is the lead superannuation regulator. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission also took a significant role in the regulation of superannuation. The Australian Taxation Office continued to carry out some regulatory functions and administer the superannuation taxation legislation. The Insurance and Superannuation Commission ceases to operate on the same date. These changes were in response to the recommendations of the Wallis Inquiry.

June 1998

Superannuation assets $360.3bn, 51.2% of GDP


In 1999, the SIS Act was amended to establish a new category of small superannuation fund, the Self Managed Superannuation Fund to be regulated by the Australian Taxation Office.

June 1999

Superannuation assets $411.4bn, 55.6% of GDP

8 October 1999

Australian Taxation Office took administrative responsibility for Self Managed Superannuation Funds (SMSF).

June 2000

Superannuation assets $484.2bn, 63.0% of GDP, 87% of employed persons (both part and full time workers) covered by superannuation.


Financial Services Reform Act is designed to be a single licensing and disclosure approach for all financial services, including superannuation. Commenced in March 2002.

June 2001

Superannuation assets $519.0bn, 66.2% of GDP


Maximum age for superannuation contributions increased from 70 to 75 (for people working at least 10 hours a week).

June 2002

Superannuation assets $518.1bn, 63.7% of GDP

1 July 2002

Temporary residents permanently departing Australia may withdraw their accumulated superannuation benefits before their preservation age. This does not apply to New Zealand residents.

28 December 2002

Superannuation assets able to be divided between the parties in a marriage breakdown


Superannuation surcharge reduced from 15% to 12.5%.

Government co-contribution for low/middle income earners introduced.

June 2003

Superannuation assets $546.8bn, 65.2% of GDP, 90% of employed persons have employer provided superannuation.

1 July 2003

Superannuation co-contributions policy takes effect in respect of personal (or undeducted) contributions made after this date.

25 February 2004

On 25 February 2004, the Treasurer released A more flexible and adaptable retirement income system as part of Australia s Demographic Challenges announcement. Amongst other things this report proposed to allow access to a person s superannuation, in the form of an income stream, before they had left the work force (that is, transition to retirement pensions) and to scrap the work test for those under age 65.


Superannuation Safety Amendment Act 2004 enacted changes to regulation of superannuation. All superannuation trustees of large eligible funds have to be licensed from 1 July 2004. Trustees of SMSFs do not have to be licensed.


Superannuation regulations changed to allow the portability of money between different superannuation accounts.


Employee choice of fund passed Senate in June, to come into operation from 1 July 2005.

Superannuation surcharge reduced from 12.5% to 10%.


Tax free payment of superannuation benefits can be made to the surviving partner on an interdependent relationship. An interdependent relationship can encompass same sex couples, or a relationship where one person is financial dependent on another person. For example, were a son or daughter is financially supporting a parent.

June 2004

Superannuation assets $643.0bn, 73.6% of GDP

1 July 2004

Work test governing contributions made under age 65 ceased to operate. Work test remains for contributions made above age 65.

10 May 2005

Treasurer Costello announced in the Budget the abolition of the Superannuation Surcharge. Changes take effect from 1 July 2005

June 2005

Superannuation assets $762.9bn, 85.1% of GDP, 90% of employed persons have employer provided superannuation.

1 July 2005

Transition to Retirement Pensions available. A member may commence to receive a transition to retirement pension without having to leave the workforce or retire. Choice of Superannuation Fund takes effect.

1 Jan 2006

Contributions Splitting took effect. A Member s SG and other contributions may be split with their spouse.

9 May 2006

In the Budget, Treasurer Costello announced plans to simplify superannuation. Simpler Super includes:

  • exemption from tax on end benefits for Australians aged 60 or over from I July 2007;
  • no tax on a lump sum;
  • no tax on a superannuation pension;
  • reasonable benefit limits to be abolished; and
  • transferring super between funds made easier. Implementation date is 1 July 2007.

June 2006

Superannuation assets $912.0bn, 98.8% of GDP, 90% of all employed persons covered by superannuation.

June 2007

Superannuation assets $1153.3bn (that is, 1 trillion), 119% of GDP.

1 July 2007

Most Simplified Superannuation amendments take effect. Bulk of operating superannuation tax law now in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997. Prudential and operational aspects now largely in the SIS Act. Residual parts of superannuation law remain in Income Tax Assessment Act 1936.

11 September 2007
Measure applies to lump sums paid on or after 1 July 2007

Tax free benefits able to be paid to those with a terminal illness.

20 September 2007

Social Security assets test threshold raised from $531,000 to $839,500 (couple); from $343,750 to $529,250 (single); it is estimated that more than 300,000 extra people will be eligible for the age pension.

31 December 2007

Employee's ability to recover unpaid superannuation amounts from employers that have ceased operating enhanced.

3 March 2008

Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law Sherry announced the establishment of a Superannuation Advisory Group to advise on matters relevant to current or prospective superannuation legislation and on Government policy proposals which have significant impact for the superannuation industry.

5 May 2008

Minister Sherry announces consultation on a measure introduced by the Coalition Government which required future superannuation contributions and existing balances for temoporary residents to be transferred to the ATO. If these were unclaimed after 5 years, the amounts would be confiscated. Extra revenue of up to $1 billion a year is predicted.

13 May 2008

Labor s first Budget contains details of a review of taxation Australia s future tax system , to be chaired by Dr Ken Henry. Terms of reference include the government s commitment to preserve tax-free superannuation payments for the over 60s.

19 May 2008

Minister Sherry announced that universal forecasting of superannuation end-benefits could be introduced to enable better understanding of retirement savings.

28 May 2008

Attorney-General Robert McClelland introduced the first of a range of amendments to remove same-sex discrimination from Acts governing Commonwealth superannuation schemes. This ensures that same-sex couples are not denied the payment of death benefits from superannuation schemes or the tax concessions on death benefits currently made available to opposite-sex couples.

June 2008

ASIC begins to provides advice on long term superannuation returns

17 Jun 2008

The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws Superannuation) Bill 2008 is sent to a committee inquiry without an end date

25 June 2008

Legislation providing further relief for employers who make a late superannuation guarantee contribution receives Royal Assent

26 June 2008

Minister Sherry announced a review of pension indexation arrangements for Australian Government superannuation schemes (civilian and military). The review commences in July and is expected to conclude by the end of 2008.

December 2008

Review of Australian government pension indexation (Mathews Review) completed. Report not released to the public.

18 December 2008

Act requiring temporary resident’s superannuation benefits to be paid to the ATO, if not claimed within 6 months of departing Australia, commences operation.

4 December 2008

Royal Assent to the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—Superannuation) Bill 2008 (No. 107 of 2008) passes through Parliament.

1 April 2009

Act raising tax rates of Temporary Residents superannuation benefits when paid takes effect.

28 April 2009

Minister Sherry announces Review into the governance, efficiency, structure and operation of Australia’s superannuation system.

4 May 2009

Release of the Report on Strategic issues for the Retirement Income System – as part of the Australia’s future tax system inquiry (Henry Review). Amongst other things recommends that superannuation guarantee contribution rate remain at 9 per cent of ordinary time earnings and retains the $450 per month minimum wage threshold for superannuation guarantee purposes.

29 May 2009

Minister Sherry announces the terms of reference and makeup of Review into the governance, efficiency, structure and operation of Australia’s superannuation system.

1 July 2009

Rate at which government superannuation co-contribution is paid reduced temporarily between 1 July 2009 and 30 June 2014. Rate returns to $1.50 for every $1 contribution (subject to income test threshold) on 1 July 2014.

1 July 2009

Limit on concessional contributions (formally known as tax deductible contributions) reduced from $50 000 p.a. to $25 000 p.a. for 2009–10 and later years. This limit is indexed to changes in AWOTE (if those changes are sufficiently large enough). Transitional measures remain in place for those over 50 years of age to 2011–2012. Annual limits on non-concessional contributions (that is, after tax contributions) are now 6 times the limit on concessional contributions for those under 50 years of age (that is, 6 times $25 000 or $150 000 p.a. for the 2009–10 year).

1 July 2009

Income for government superannuation co-contribution purposes now includes a person’s reportable employer superannuation contributions. That is the amount that the employer puts into superannuation on the employee’s behalf that exceeds the superannuation guarantee requirements.

1 July 2009

Expanded definition of ‘ordinary time earnings’ for superannuation guarantee purposes takes effect. ‘Ordinary time earnings now include over award payments, shift loadings, allowances and piece rates paid in relation to a person’s ordinary hours of work. It does not include overtime payments.

9 July 2009

Superannuation funds now able to offer limited financial advice to their members.

21 August 2009

Release of the Mathews Report recommends that government superannuation pensions continue to be adjusted by increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Government fully supports this recommendation.

20 September 2009

The rate of the age pension was raised by $30 per week for single people. Existing pension supplements were consolidated into one pension supplement and increased by $2.49 per week for single people and $10.14 per week for couples.

The 25% of MTAWE adequacy benchmark was adjusted to 27.7% for single people and 41.76% for couples. A new prices measure called the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI) was added to the pension indexation process. Where the increase in the PBLCI is greater than that for the CPI it will be used instead of the CPI in the indexation process.

The pension income test taper rate was increased from 40% to 50%. A work bonus was introduced that exempted half of any income from employment up to $500 per fortnight from consideration under the income test.

The Pension Bonus Scheme was abolished

14 December 2009

Release of phase one preliminary report of the Review into the governance, efficiency, structure and operation of Australia’s superannuation system (that is, the Cooper Review) on superannuation fund governance

January 2010

Formal inclusion of specific superannuation funds (usually industry funds) in industrial awards. This change does not restrict an employee’s right to have contributions made to a superannuation fund of their choice

20 April 2010

Release of Cooper Review Phase two preliminary report – ‘Mysuper, optimising Australian superannuation’.

29 April 2010

Release of Cooper Review Phase three preliminary report – ‘Self managed super solutions’.

2 May 2010

Government response to Australia’s future tax system review (that is, the Henry Review) released. Superannuation Guarantee rate proposed to be raised to 12% between 2013–14 and 2019–20, Superannuation Guarantee age limit to be increased to 75 in from 1 July 2013, an annual superannuation contribution of up to $500 provided for those receiving and adjusted taxable income of up to $37 000 p.a. and the concessional contribution cap for those over age 50, with less than $500 000 in total superannuation benefits to be permanently raised from $25 000 to $50 000 p.a. Proposed measures repeated in budget papers released on 11 May 2010 (see below).

11 May 2010

Government proposed changes to Co-contributions scheme. Income thresholds applying for 2009–10 to continue for a further two years, Government co-contribution rate to be set permanently at $1 for every $1 of personal contributions made by those receiving an adjusted annual income less than $31 920 p.a.

July 2017

The qualifying age for the age pension will increase by six months every two years until it reaches 67 years of age on 1 January 2024

Source: Leslie Nielson and Barbara Harris, Economics Section, Parliament of Australia, ‘Chronology of superannuation and retirement income in Australia’ (1 June 2010) <http://www.aph.gov.au>.