House debates

Thursday, 11 February 2010


Hume Electorate: Superannuation

4:40 pm

Photo of Alby SchultzAlby Schultz (Hume, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In late December 2009 the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority announced that they had suspended Trio Capital Ltd as a trustee of four superannuation funds, including the Astarra superannuation group. This collapse had implications on the superannuation nest eggs, worth some $300 million nationwide, of approximately 10,000 members. It directly affects the superannuation contributions of both the directors and employees of Vale SMS Pty Ltd in Moss Vale in the electorate of Hume. Vale employs over 200 local residents, some of whom are very close to retirement. It also affects many retired constituents in the Hume electorate—and, I would suspect, in nearly every other electorate in the country—who rely on allocated pension payments from Astarra for their daily survival.

The management of Vale are being given the run-around and cannot get any information from either ASIC, APRA or the appointed trustee in relation to the fate of their compulsory superannuation contributions, totalling over $3.5 million. In March 2008 the then Minister for Superannuation and Corporate Law, Senator Nick Sherry, said:

Superannuation sits at the core of this Government’s approach to retirement income. A well functioning super system is a must for the income security of all Australians.

What does this collapse say about this statement?

These superannuation contributions were paid into this fund under the compulsory employer superannuation scheme by Vale for the future retirement of their employees and, for that matter, the directors of the company themselves. The government needs to inform or at least direct both ASIC and APRA to address the fears of the 200 employees of Vale SMS, their families and the other 9,800 members of Astarra Superannuation, many of whom depend on the regular payments from this fund for their very survival, and give some kind of assurance that their retirement nest eggs will be safe.

I raised the issue in writing with the Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law today in the chamber, and the minister and I have had a brief discussion on it. The minister was not aware of this particular issue and I have full confidence in his acting very professionally to ensure that some action is taken with regard to protecting the retirement nest eggs of all of the employees of Vale SMS Pty Ltd in Moss Vale, its directors and indeed all of the 10,000 people right across the country who must be living with deep trepidation about whether the money they have put away for their retirement is going to be returned to them in the way of the superannuation that they have diligently paid and had diligently managed for them by the companies they work for. I thank the House for its indulgence.