The ACTU and its affiliated unions played a foundational role in winning superannuation as an industrial right for all working people, and with employers established and continue to be custodians of workers’ retirement savings through industry superannuation funds. Living well after work is fundamental to the wellbeing of working people and attaining dignity and independence in retirement for all working people is a core goal of the union movement.
This Bill differs little from the exposure draft presented to the Australian people late last year. Despite releasing the policy intent in October 2020, the Government is yet to publish draft regulations meaning most of the Bill’s impact is not fully assessable by Parliament.
The Bill represents an attack on working people, their retirement savings, and the best-performing and best-governed superannuation funds. Where the Government could be addressing real issues that cause harm for working people including the prevalence of multiple accounts and underperformance, it has chosen an option which will leave workers materially worse off.
The measures aimed at ensuring funds are acting in the best interests of members, too, could have been targeted at for-profit funds which blatantly rorted members as uncovered by the Banking Royal Commission. However, the Government has drafted laws which would, in effect, only apply to the operation of industry super funds and significantly encumber their operations with tests not applied to for profit funds. The most egregious power the Government is seeking to give itself and the regulator is to ban investments and purchases that are demonstrably in the best financial interests of members that it does not approve of. Members will be worse off in retirement as a result of these proposed laws.
The Government has missed the opportunity to address systemic flaws that impede workers accumulating adequate retirement savings. This package of laws does nothing but erode the best interests of Australian workers retirement savings in our superannuation system.