Thursday, 18 June 2020
Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Superannuation, Your Choice) Bill 2019; In Committee
I think we can safely say that defined benefit funds play a really important role as part of the suite of superannuation products out there. Indeed, I know there are a number academics, particularly, in UniSuper that really value the fund that they have and the fact that they don't face the longevity risk that other funds might have. But, that said, the premise of the defined benefits scheme, the premise of the request that UniSuper has put forward, is that it relies essentially on complacency and inertia or ignorance—for people to accidentally be put into that fund and then have to actively leave. They've got two years to leave a defined benefit scheme, which I think is interesting, but what they seem to be objecting to is people, rather than having to go into it and then actively withdrawing in the first two years, being able to not go into it at all in the first place, which should be a fundamental choice for academics.
We're not talking about tenured professors and vice-chancellors. We're talking about people that are tutors, and often those tutors have other jobs as well. They might have a job as a waitress or as a check-out person—whatever it might be—to supplement their income. Often, people tutor as a supplement to other income while they're in academia themselves or studying themselves. These are the people that are most likely to have those duplicate accounts. They're the ones that are most likely to be subjected to duplicate fees and duplicate insurance premiums. By forcing them into UniSuper—and I'm using UniSuper specifically as an example here, rather than all broad defined benefits schemes—this amendment would actually mean that they can never leave. It's like the 'Hotel California' of superannuation funds. And that's unreasonable, because I know a lot of people who work in incredibly different industries who were tutors, at one stage, at university, but you're forcing them into having duplicate accounts for the rest of their lives. That is kind of crazy and defeats the entire purpose of having choice in superannuation, which we believe is a fundamental right.