Thursday, 26 October 2017
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services. Will the minister update the House on action the government is taking to protect the retirement savings of hardworking Australians and improve transparency of the system? How does this compare with alternative approaches?
I thank the member for Banks for his question. He knows that the Turnbull government has introduced very comprehensive reforms to Australia's compulsory superannuation system to protect members and to protect members' money. The government is determined to see the very highest standards of accountability, transparency and independent oversight of Australia's $2.3 trillion superannuation industry.
Let's be very clear: successive Australian governments have compelled hardworking Australians to set aside around 10 per cent of their wages for superannuation funds. They deserve to know what is happening to their money. They must be confident that the people who are put in charge of these funds are acting only in the interests of members.
Questions were asked of the former RBA governor and industry fund director Bernie Fraser in a recent Senate committee inquiry about a payment made by AustralianSuper to the AWU in the 2006-07 financial year. It was specifically described by the AWU in its 2007 AEC declaration as a 'donation'. The $27,500 payment was made at the same time that the Leader of the Opposition was the AWU national secretary and also a director of AustralianSuper alongside Bernie Fraser, current Labor Senator Doug Cameron and former Labor MP Greg Combet.
Coincidentally, a similar sized donation was subsequently made by, yes, the AWU to the Leader of the Opposition's political campaign in the seat of Maribyrnong. But it was only when this payment from AustralianSuper to the AWU came under scrutiny in June, following reports by The Australian newspaper, that the AWU resubmitted its original AEC declaration, changing the very nature of the AWU payment from 'donation' to 'other receipt' on 15 June this year, some 10 years later.
What role did the Leader of the Opposition have in deciding that a payment should be made to his own union when he was both a director of AustralianSuper and the National Secretary of the AWU? What steps did the Leader of the Opposition take to fully disclose his conflict to the board and how did he and fellow AustralianSuper directors satisfy themselves that this was an appropriate use of members' money?
We know that superannuation is not the government's money, not the employers' money, not the executives' money, not the trade unions' money and not the Labor Party's money; it is the members' money.