Budget backing for superannuation consumer advocate

The Federal Government has committed to a process to fund a superannuation consumer advocate in Tuesday night’s budget.

Independent consumer groups CHOICE and the Superannuation Consumers Centre (SCC) have welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement to scope the permanent funding of a Superannuation Consumer Advocate but say this needs to be backed by a substantial long-term funding commitment that guarantees the advocacy body’s independence.

“CHOICE and the SCC will continue to discuss the need for permanent and stable funding for a voice for superannuation consumers with Treasury and all political parties. We will be calling for long-term and sufficient funding for a powerful advocacy body in the sector that is free from industry influence and annual budget cycle pressures,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.

The budget announcement comes after a three year long Productivity Commission inquiry into superannuation recommended the Federal Government, as a matter of urgency, adequately fund a Superannuation Consumer Advocate.

“Australia needs an independent consumer voice in the superannuation sector. Superannuation industry groups have over 100 staff, 20 of which are solely devoted to superannuation policy and research.[1] Consumers need their own independent voice to combat these powerful industry influences.” says Mr Kirkland.

The Financial Services Royal Commission also noted the lack of consumer voices in superannuation advocacy and the need for assist consumers through the complexity of the superannuation system.

Since receiving seed funding in 2018 the Superannuation Consumers’ Centre has already delivered big wins for people’s retirement savings. It was the key consumer voice in the superannuation rounds of the Royal Commission and has worked to support the passage of the Protecting Your Super legislation through parliament.

“Unfortunately there is much more to do to make superannuation work harder for its owners, the workers of Australia. Our major focus in the coming months is to ensure consumers can have confidence they’ll end up in a single, high performing fund with quality insurance,” says Xavier O’Halloran, Head of Campaigns & Advocacy for the SCC.  

Media contact: CHOICE Media, 0430 172 669, media@choice.com.au

[1] Numbers sourced from hearings of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, 10th October 2017. They include staff numbers from the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, Industry Super Australia, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees and the Financial Services Council. The figure does not include the broader lobbying power from individual superannuation funds and non-industry specific groups like the Australian Banking Association