Senate debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Bills

Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Superannuation, Your Choice) Bill 2019; In Committee

11:17 am

Photo of Jane HumeJane Hume (Victoria, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology) Share this | Hansard source

Yes. As I said, I do have a number of examples in front of me specifically regarding UniSuper members. I mentioned a couple of those examples before from my home state—our home state, Senator Paterson—of Victoria. I do have some from New South Wales as well. I mentioned one before, who said that she felt that she had in fact been discriminated against because she didn't share the same freedom as many other Australians when it came to superannuation providers. The fact that she felt she had been discriminated against, I thought was a profound statement in her correspondence. There was another employee of the University of Sydney who discovered after several months that a UniSuper account had been set up for her. She didn't know she had a UniSuper account, so it was done without her knowledge. It was against her express wishes, because she was a long-time member of another industry super fund, First State Super, one she was particularly happy with. So she realised then she had not only been contributing to a different account but had two sets of fees, two sets of insurances. She also found out that she discovered that the UniSuper account caused half of her contributions to be eroded in fees. I can't understand how that lack of choice could possibly be in the best interests of that member.

Another employee of a university in the ACT said that he was disappointed that he was forced to set up a UniSuper account rather than proceeding with his preferred choice of another industry super fund, Hostplus. As a member of Hostplus myself, I can safely say that I can understand why that might be. UniSuper is a perfectly good industry super fund—don't get me wrong. I think it has served its members very well indeed over time because it does have both a defined benefit as well as a defined contribution option. But Hostplus might better suit the needs of that particular person, not necessarily because one is an academic and one is a hospitality worker; that really shouldn't limit your choice.

In fact, we would like to see more funds diversify their membership base so they don't specifically work for a particular industry because that in itself, as we have said many times, is a systemic risk, and diversifying your membership base is just as important as diversifying your investment options, because that reduces the systemic risk of the superannuation system overall.

Hostplus, bless them, have done that. They were set up as an industry super fund that was specifically for the hospitality sector, but they have broadened their membership base to a point now where they aren't just reliant on the hospitality sector—and thank heavens for that. Thank heavens for that, because, quite frankly, the hospitality sector having been hit so hard by COVID-19, Hostplus managed to miss the worst of it. That's not to say that they didn't suffer at all from it, because, of course, there was extraordinary market volatility and there was an extraordinary switch from aggressive assets to cash within superannuation funds as well that super funds have had to manage, but Hostplus have seen themselves through the worst of the storm largely because they had that diverse membership base. UniSuper doesn't necessarily have that, because it is purely for academics, and, as Senator Whish-Wilson has pointed out—

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