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Wednesday, 3 June 1987
Page: 3851


Mr BLUNT(10.06) —by leave-I move:

(4) Clause 7, page 6, lines 10 and 11, omit subclause (1), substitute the following subclause:

``(1) Standards applicable to the operation of superannuation funds shall be such as are prescribed by this Act or any other Act.''.

(5) Clause 7, page 6, line 12, omit ``may'', substitute ``shall''.

This clause provides for operating standards for superannuation funds. This is very much germane to the arguments of the National Party in this area. Previously I have remarked about the Government's intention to regulate and determine standards by regulation. The issues to be determined by regulation are very significant to the operation of superannuation funds and therefore very significant to people who are contributing on a weekly or monthly basis to superannuation funds. The Government proposes that the standards that may be prescribed include, but are not limited to, standards relating to certain matters. They are the persons who may contribute to superannuation funds; the vesting in members of superannuation funds, that is, when they acquire a proprietary interest in the moneys contributed to the funds; the preservation of benefits, which is a very important part of the whole issue of superannuation and retirement income planning; the payment by superannuation funds of benefits arising directly or indirectly from amounts contributed to superannuation funds, that is, the pay-out policy for the retirement provisions; and the portability of benefits. Nothing could be more important in this superannuation debate than the question of portability, particularly in those industries where there is a significant turnover of staff.

Also included is the application by superannuation funds of money no longer required to meet payments of benefits. That relates to what happens to surplus funds or what happens when the person who has subscribed to the funds in the first place cannot be found. Also included is the number of trustees and, of course, that is very important in the debate on who will control superannuation funds. We on this side of the Committee have great concerns about the involvement of the trade union movement in superannuation funds. We do not believe under any circumstances that peoples' retirement savings should be used and exploited for political or industrial purposes. To provide by regulation that the Government can determine the rules that apply to the appointment of trustees is to our mind totally unacceptable, and we believe it is unacceptable to the people who contribute over 25 or 35 years to their retirement income.

The list of provisions that will be controlled by regulation also includes the financial and actuarial reports to be prepared in relation to superannuation funds and the disclosure of information to members which, of course, is very important. The final matter-the catch-all-is the matters required, permitted or not permitted to be included, from time to time, in the trust deeds of superannuation funds. That is the very character of any superannuation fund. A trust deed lays down almost in concrete the provisions and the basis of a superannuation fund operation. Yet the Government proposes to change by regulation the rules relating to trust deeds and all the other provisions that I have mentioned. We are well aware of the mechanism for considering regulations in this place but, as I said before, if people are planning for their retirement over 25 or 35 years it is perhaps one of the most important decisions that they take in their working lives-it is akin to the decision to buy a house. If people make decisions this year which will affect them in 20 or 30 years time, they cannot change those decisions quickly. We believe it is totally inappropriate for any government to seek to change the rules of retirement income planning by regulation. If a person's planning cannot be changed quickly, the Government should recognise that it has an obligation to ensure that the rules of the game cannot be changed conveniently and expediently, and it should be done by legislation and not delegated legislation. It is for that reason that we move this amendment to require the operating standards of superannuation funds to be determined by legislation brought into this place and not under the Government's proposed methods of regulation through delegated legislation.