Government accused of using super as ‘ideological plaything’

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The chief executive of industry superannuation fund Vision Super has accused the Government of using superannuation as an ideological “plaything”.

The Government has been arguing for changes to super fund governance, including a minimum of one-third independent directors and an independent chair for large public offer superannuation funds. Legislation to enact this change is currently before the Senate.

Stephen Rowe, chief executive of Vision Super, said this was part of a “broader anti-union agenda”.

“We have a government which is intent on developing a narrative that there is a problem with industry superannuation funds because of their connection with the union movement,” he said.

“The government is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist in the industry superannuation sector.”

“We have had equal representation (of union and employers as industry fund trustees) since the 80s and there have been no major failures.”

The Financial System Inquiry had recommended at least a majority of independent directors, though the Government sided with the earlier Cooper Review recommendation of at least one-third.

“We have had equal representation of trustees for the past 30 years. I don’t see how having at least 30 per cent or more as ‘independent’ trustees is an answer to a problem,” said Mr Rowe.

“If anything, the financial planning scandals have come in the banking sector where boards have had independent directors.”

Vision Super currently has nine directors, four employer representatives, four nominated by the Australian Services Union and one independent director.

Mr Rowe said superannuation funds “were not like listed companies where independent directors could come and go.”

“To be involved with a superannuation fund you have to have a long-term perspective. You can’t be someone who comes on the board for three years and just walks away.”

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