It’s unclear which Minister is responsible for superannuation

It is unclear which Treasury Minister is responsible for superannuation, and broader financial services, after the recent reshuffle following from the leadership spill.

Superannuation policy had largely been the province of Kelly O’Dwyer, in her role as Minister of Revenue and Financial Services. No one was given this title in the reshuffle, instead Stuart Robert becomes Assistant Treasurer. But it is not yet clear who will be responsible for the superannuation sector, which has a number of ongoing issues.

Josh Frydenberg – who was formerly Assistant Treasurer, among other roles – replaces Scott Morrison as Treasurer. Mathias Cormann remains Minister of Finance, a position he has held since September 2013. Zed Seselja becomes Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance.

Chris Bowen, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, criticised Scott Morrison for failing to appoint a Minister for Financial Services.

Stuart Robert was the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs when he resigned in 2016, after an internal investigation found he acted inconsistently with the Statement of Ministerial Standards – though then PM Malcolm Turnbull said he accepted that Mr Robert may not have intended to breach the Standards.

Since he was announced as Assistant Treasurer Mr Roberts has said that he expected to have responsibility for financial services, superannuation and regulatory reform, according to The Australian. However Fairfax papers are reporting that the division of responsibilities may not be settled for a fortnight, as Treasurer Frydenberg decides what to bring into his portfolio – in particular if it should include ASIC.

The Australian reports Mr Robert as saying that future banking scandals are “inevitable”, and supports “self-regulation” of the sector. But misconduct could be reduced by “sensible” policies and regulators with “teeth”.

Whoever ends up being responsible for superannuation will be busy, with the interim report of the Banking Royal Commission coming next month and the Productivity Commission’s report into the efficiency of superannuation currently TBA, in addition to the several superannuation Bills stalled in the Senate. Though this may be somewhat easier with the news that the Government has dropped its plan to require at least one-third independent directors. But this still leaves Bills before the Parliament to:

  • Implement the 2018 Budget measures around fees, insurance and lost superannuation
  • Expand super choice and close the Salary Sacrifice ‘loophole’
  • Create an amnesty for Super Guarantee underpayment
  • Increase the penalties for SG underpayment
  • Set an objective for superannuation in legislation
  • Change the regulations on funds with MySuper products

SMSF Association congratulates new Ministers

The SMSF Association has congratulated Josh Frydenberg, Stuart Robert and Zed Seselja on their appointments.

SMSFA CEO John Maroney said the Association looks forward to working closely with the Treasury Ministers at this “critical time” for superannuation and financial services.

“The FASEA reforms, the Financial Services Royal Commission and the Productivity Commission report will all generate critical issues for the industry and consumers, and the Association is keen to being involved in these discussions with all three Ministers,” he said.

“The Association has had previous dealings with Josh Frydenberg when he was Assistant Treasurer, and based on that experience we are confident he will listen closely to our views on the issues that are likely to emerge over the coming months.”

Maroney also said he wishes to update the Coalition Ministers on the opposition of the Association to Labor’s dividend imputation credit policy, which the Association believes will be “highly detrimental” to SMSFs.

He went on to say that the Association was looking forward to working with PM Scott Morrison on key issues facing the super sector, as they had a “constructive working relationship” when Mr Morrison was Treasurer.

Maroney thanked Kelly O’Dwyer for her work as Minister for Revenue and Financial Services.

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