Big earners miss out on super

WORKERS flocking to the mining regions to make their fortune are more likely to be losing part of it through unclaimed superannuation holdings, a report shows.

WORKERS flocking to the mining regions to make their fortune are more likely to be losing part of it through unclaimed superannuation holdings, a report shows.

The Pilbara, Darwin and the north-west region of Queensland are the areas with the highest proportion of people with lost superannuation, according to a Westpac report.

The report showed that the high turnover of fly-in, fly-out mining workers and employees hired on a shorter-term basis had probably contributed to the Pilbara having an estimated $3332 a person in lost super. By region, inner-Brisbane ranked No. 4, followed by inner-Sydney and south-eastern WA.

"You've got very high proportions of losses in remote areas when you have people entering those regions for specific work," said Westpac's group head of superannuation, Melanie Evans. "You also have

people entering regions such as the Pilbara having many jobs over their lifetimes. And they're likely to be very mobile within those regions."

The total of unclaimed superannuation last year amounted to $17.4 billion, down from $20.2 billion in 2010, according to data from the Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation.

Closely following the remote regions, inner-city areas are rife with lost super holdings. The biggest category in those areas was workers under 40 with four or more jobs in their first decade of work, Ms Evans said.

"From our research, it is particularly worrying to see the lack of motivation from younger Australians to take ownership of their super given it's money they have earned."

Westpac's research showed that 61.8 per cent of employees under 40 were likely to have lost super, compared with 41.4 per cent of those between 40 and 59. Of those who were 60 and over, only 21.1 per cent were likely to be missing funds owed to them.

New South Wales had $5.36 billion in unclaimed super, ahead of Victoria with $4.47 billion, according to Westpac. Queensland had $3.18 billion and Western Australia $2.04 billion.

"The best way for people to avoid losing super is to ensure that their super fund has their tax file number," said Financial Services and Superannuation Minister Bill Shorten.

The government offers a tool for people to track down abandoned super holdings, at www.ato.gov.au/superseeker.

In a move to increase Australians' retirement nest eggs, the superannuation guarantee will rise progressively from 9 per cent to 12 per cent over six years, beginning in July next year.

The passive nature of the superannuation system, in which funds are set aside by companies for employees as soon as they start a job, often sees employees failing to switch over their holdings when they switch employers.

Super fund tracking group Chant West forecasts that the median growth super fund, with an allocation of between 61 and 80 per cent in growth assets, will have grown by 1 per cent in the year to June, amid volatile sharemarkets and sinking commodities prices.

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