Government to reintroduce super fund governance Bill

The Government has announced it will reintroduce a Bill changing the governance arrangements for large superannuation funds.

The Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Trustee Governance) Bill lapsed when Parliament was prorogued ahead of the double dissolution election, and so would need to be introduced to Parliament again.

Among other changes, the Bill would require large superannuation funds to have at least one-third independent directors and an independent chair.

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer told the Industry Super Australia Conference on Tuesday that the superannuation system must have the highest possible governance standards and called for “an end to the cosy kickback deals that abuse members’ money”.

Minister O’Dwyer said the Government is committed to reforms that will “lift superannuation funds to at least the same standard as other financial services organisations like banks and life insurance companies” and so will reintroduce the Trustee Governance Bill. Comparing super funds with banks and life insurance companies, sectors not without their own recent controversies, reportedly elicited laughter from the audience.

Minister O’Dwyer was also critical of Industry Super Australia, which has been campaigning against the governance changes, telling the conference: “Almost 12 months ago, a Bill to legislate higher standards of governance for the superannuation industry was deferred by the Senate pending the outcome of a review into governance arrangements in respect of Not for Profit superannuation funds and to propose a best practice Governance Code for such funds. This review, led by Bernie Fraser, was due to report in April this year.”

“It seems that this review has disappeared into a black hole.”

“My question for you all today is, are you serious about lifting governance standards in this sector or do you want to cling to outdated practices which do not reflect the size; the scale; nor the enormous importance of this industry?”

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