Shorten suggests forcing retail super funds to have independent trustees

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has floated the idea of forcing retail superannuation funds to have “genuinely” independent trustees.

“One idea that has emerged from some quarters is: should banks actually be in superannuation?” Mr Shorten is widely reported as saying, including in The Australian.

“I don’t know about that. One idea, and it’s only an idea … you could require for-profit funds to outsource the trusteeship to genuinely independent organisations.”

The Government has a Bill before Parliament which would require super funds to have at least one-third independent directors, which was seen as targeting industry super funds. But the Bill doesn’t have the votes and has reportedly been dropped. Read more...

Government drops proposed one-third independent directors for super funds

The Government has, reportedly, dropped plans to change the governance of large super funds by requiring at least one-third independent directors.

The Government has for some time wanted to increase the number of independent directors on super fund boards – which would particularly impact industry funds. However this has now been dropped, the Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the Phillip Coorey, the decision to drop the proposed change was made before the recent leadership spill. But it apparently won’t be reversed by the new Treasury ministers – it is as yet unclear who had responsibility for superannuation. Read more...

Government’s superannuation changes “not dead”, says Minister

Three of the Government’s superannuation Bills are “certainly not dead”, says Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer.

The Government delayed the Bills on Tuesday after it failed to get crossbench support for the governance, reporting and choice of fund changes. This pushes these key parts of the Government’s superannuation agenda into 2018.

Minister O’Dwyer said on ABC’s AM program that the changes weren’t dead. “The Government remains absolutely committed to making sure that members know exactly how their superannuation money is being spent.” Read more...

Government lacks votes on super changes, delays votes on Bills

The Government doesn’t have the votes to pass some key parts of its superannuation agenda through the Senate.

On Monday the Government delayed votes on three superannuation Bills – which included changes to super fund governance, MySuper reporting and choice of super fund.

Related: Government’s superannuation changes “not dead”, says Minister

On Thursday last week Senator George Brandis, Leader of the Government in the Senate, moved that the hours and routine of the Senate be changed to make these Bills the top priority. Labor attempted, and failed, to exclude three super Bills: Read more...

ASIC reportedly investigating MySuper transition fee gouge

ASIC is reportedly investigating if super funds gouged fees from members by only transitioning them to MySuper products at the last minute.

Default superannuation accounts were required to be transferred to MySuper products during a four year transition period, which ended 1 July 2017. In 2016 Industry Super Australia released a report accusing ‘bank-owned’ retail super funds of “gouging” up to $1.8 billion from super fund members by only slowly moving them to MySuper products. Read more...

Super changes would take control away from working people: ACTU

Changes to superannuation being debated in the Senate would take control away from working people and give more power to the banks, says the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

The Senate began debating some of the superannuation changes today, including the requirement for large super funds to have at least one-third independent directors – a change opposed by the ACTU and Industry Super Australia.

“The proposed changes would remove representatives of working people from super fund boards and subject industry super to more onerous regulations than the banking or financial sector have to comply with,” said the ACTU. Read more...

Government’s super Bills an “unprecedented ideological attack”

Industry Super Australia says the Government’s superannuation Bills, set for debate in the Senate today, are an “unprecedented ideological attack”.

Most of the Government’s superannuation agenda is scheduled for debate, including changes to super fund governance and reporting.

“The government has failed to present evidence that these Bills will improve the retirement incomes because there is none,” said Industry Super Australia (ISA).

“The Government’s claims to improve members’ outcomes in super might have some credibility if they were backed with evidence rather than embarking on an unprecedented ideological attack on the best performing part of the sector, industry super funds.” Read more...

All Government super Bills set for debate today, except objective of super

All the Government’s superannuation Bills are set for debate in the Senate today, except for the Bill setting the objective for super.

Update, Tuesday evening: The Senate didn’t debate the superannuation Bills today, only reaching the Treasury Laws Amendment (Housing Tax Integrity) Bill 2017 – the first Bill on the notice paperThe superannuation changes may be debated on Wednesday, but welfare reform is also scheduled for debate, and potentially same sex marriage.

Update, Tuesday morning: The superannuation bills are scheduled again for debate in the Senate on Tuesday. There was little movement on the Bills on Monday, with only time to introduce the Bills coming from the House of Representatives. It is unclear yet how the ongoing citizenship issue has impacted the likelihood of passage, given both Labor and the Greens oppose some of the measures. Read more...

Labor may yet support expansion of super fund choice

Labor will oppose the Government’s superannuation governance and reporting changes, but may yet support an expansion of super fund choice to more employees.

Labor says it will oppose two of the Government’s superannuation Bills, but may support a third if it is amended.

The House of Representatives on Monday passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation Measures No. 2) Bill 2017. The Bill would expand choice of super fund and close the Salary Sacrifice ‘loophole’, which allows employers to claim employees contributions against their SG obligations. Read more...

Liberal Party think tank attacks industry super fund spending

A Liberal Party think tank has attacked spending by industry super funds at the same time the Government is trying to change the governance and disclosure rules for super funds.

“Industry super funds have spent millions on a lavish advertising campaign designed to portray privately operated funds as the fox in the hen house,” said Mr Nick Cater, Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre, referring to a campaign by Industry Super Australia.

The Centre has released a report which recommends mandating at least one-third independent directors and an independent chair for large super funds – echoing Government policy. Read more...