New superannuation centre to boost consumer advocacy

Consumers Federation of Australia today welcomed the Commonwealth government’s announcement that it will provide a one-off grant to support the establishment of a new organisation to provide increased consumer advocacy on retirement incomes and superannuation issues.

“The government’s announcement is a welcome acknowledgement of the need for public support for consumer advocacy.” said CFA Deputy Chair Gordon Renouf. “Such support has been recommended repeatedly by the Productivity Commission including in its inquiry into Consumer Policy completed in 2008 and more recently.”

“Support for superannuation consumer advocacy is long overdue. For too long the voices of CFA’s consumer organisation members have been overshadowed by industry voices pushing solutions that are good for industry and may or may not benefit consumers.”

“Superannuation is complex, confusing and compulsory: consumers need signfiacnt help so the Centre is a very welcome development” said Mr Renouf.

The innovative funding model for the Superannuation Centre is particularly welcome given that it maximises the value from public support while also ensuring independence for the Centre.

“The idea of building a substantial capital fund through government and industry contributions and funding the centre on an ongoing basis through interest from the fund will guarantee the Centre can operate independently without interference from either government or the industry, “  said Mr Renouf.

The government will provide a one off grant of $10 million to the Centre to support it on an ongoing basis, provided that this is matched by the superannuation industry. The Centre’s independent financial future will be assured and so it will be able to advance consumer interests without fear of repercussions if its advocacy is not to the liking of government or industry.

Superannuation is a key consumer concern, with superannuation investments often being a household’s most important or second most important asset.

While support for the Centre is very welcome, Mr Renouf pointed out that there are a range of other consumer issues where consumer advocacy is sorely needed.

“The government’s support for consumer advocacy in the superannuation industry is starkly in contrast to the absence of adequate public support for needed consumer advocacy in many other areas including financial services, food policy, basic consumer rights and digital and copyright issues,” said Mr Renouf.

CFA recognises the work undertaken by CHOICE behind the scenes in creating the conditions in industry and government for this Centre to be born and looks forward to working closely with the Centre in the future.

CFA notes and supports the public comments made by its members CHOICE and Consumer Action Law Centre.

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