Labor MP slams Government’s “vindictive” super campaign 

Alex Burke,  Senior Writer,  No More Practice Education

The debate around implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations became quite heated in the House of Representatives on Monday, where Labor MP Andrew Leigh described a motion regarding super fund investment transparency as "petty and vindictive".

The motion, introduced by Liberal MP and Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue chair Jason Falinski, concerned IFM Investors, the $148 billion investment consortium owned by 27 super funds, and requested the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics to compel evidence from IFM to "ensure transparency and accountability and to ensure that [it] is acting in the best interests of ordinary Australians." Falinski noted his disappointment that IFM has "refused to provide evidence" on issues including the details and terms of bonuses paid to executives and fund managers.

Expanding on his concerns, Falinski referred to what he perceived as a "lack of curiosity" during the Royal Commission regarding the way super funds spend their money. He argued that the super system "spends $400 million on advertising, promoting itself, even though it doesn't have a problem actually getting people to buy its product, because we have legislated that people are forced to buy it."

He added that in circumstances where Parliament elects to change and make laws pertaining to these activities, "the superannuation system will unleash hell."

Falinski continued: "We have found corporate marketing, as disclosed at the Hayne Royal Commission, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, and other superannuation funds that feel that they are above the law and therefore do not have to answer those questions."

Liberal MP and Standing Committee on Economics chair Tim Wilson echoed Falinski's concerns, saying that Kenneth Hayne "didn't do the whole job" of investigating misconduct in the financial services sector.

Responding to Falinski's motion, Andrew Leigh questioned the Government's commitment to investigating financial services misconduct, referring the "Liberals taking credit for a banking Royal Commission that they voted against 26 times."

Leigh described the motion concerning IFM as "[symbolising] the Liberals' continued culture war against industry super, a system set up not only by unions but by unions working with employers."

"If there's one thing those opposite hate more than unions," Leigh continued, "it's unions working collaboratively with business. That's what industry super is."

Arguing that IFM "meets all of its regulatory requirements" and that provision of commercially sensitive information would place it at a "competitive disadvantage," Leigh said the "losers" from this motion would be "the people whose money is being invested by IFM".

Leigh concluded: "This is not about the Royal Commission. This is about a petty, vindictive, ideological campaign by the Liberal members of the House of Representatives Economics Committee against industry superannuation."


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