The report gave updated forecasts on how the ageing population will fuel a steep rise in health spending and age pensions. It showed how over the next 40 years the working-age population will grow at half the rate of the overall population.
The Federal Government wants women to have more babies and increase their participation in the workforce. More affordable child-care places and men doing more the housework and child rearing will help, but one of the biggest gaps between the genders is in their superannuation savings.
Fiona Reynolds, the chief executive of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, says Costello has no "plans to help generations of women who have missed out on the full benefits of compulsory super savings".
While one in six men aged 35 to 44 has more than $100,000 in their super, only one in 12 women has more than $100,000 and women's average balance is $43,300 - a little more than half that of men at $78,700.
The main reasons women fall behind is they have more than six years, on average, out of the workforce to raise children and are more likely than men to work part-time.
A recent report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling says by 2031 the ageing population will increase the number of older people needing care by 160 per cent or nearly 1.4 million people. And guess who will do the lion's share of caring? That's right, women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. The financial impact on women of having to care for their ageing parents is about to become substantially greater.
Reynolds says the Federal Government should consider compensating women for their lifetime of lower earnings and lower retirement savings. Her call follows that of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which issued a report last month (It's About Time: Women, Men, Work and Family) highlighting, among other things, that half of all women aged 45 to 60 have less than $8000 in super.
The Government's co-contribution scheme has certainly been encouraging lower-earning women to top up their super. Under the scheme, the Government pays $1.50 into a super fund for every $1 of after-tax money invested by a fund member. But the Government's contribution starts phasing out once incomes reach $28,000 a year and cuts out altogether at $58,000 and the maximum contribution a fund member can make under the scheme is only $1000 a year.
Many HESTA members work part-time and have a super savings of less than $20,000. However, the fund's members are making higher levels of voluntary contributions than other funds because HESTA is heavily promoting the co-contribution scheme.
Reynolds says while the co-contribution scheme needs to be extended, the Government needs to do more. She says the institute is doing modelling, including costings, on a couple of ideas and she wants to wait for that to be complete before calling on the Government to implement specific measures.
But she says one idea she favours is where the Government would make a payment directly into a woman's super account at the same time she receives the $4000 Maternity Payment.
The real power of super is the compounding that occurs over the long term with regular contributions, she says. Making a super payment coincide with the birth of a child would send a signal that society recognises the monetary sacrifices entailed in childrearing, that the burden falls heavily on women and that their super needs to be topped up.