chapter  3
44 Pages

The evolution of the Australian pension system

WithNicholas Morris

The origins of the modern superannuation system go back to the management of wealth created by the Gold Rush of the nineteenth century. Life insurance companies in Australia first emerged in the 1830s through branches of British companies, while the Australian life insurance industry mostly has its origins in mutual associations formed during the mid-nineteenth century. The origins of legal and regulatory control of financial services in Australia lay in the fiduciary obligations placed on trustees by company law. Australia's pension system until the 1980s thus relied on the means-tested Age Pension and on charitable support for the poorest, on occupational schemes, and on voluntary savings for retirement encouraged by tax concessions. The evolution of the Australian wage bargaining system and the election of a labour government in 1983 led to a closer relationship between the unions and the government.