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Memorandum of understanding between the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and the Australian Taxation Office.

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Joint Media Release

Australian Taxation Office




Friday, 16 April 1999 

No: 99:08






The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) Chief Executive Officer Graeme Thompson and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Commissioner Michael Carmody today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) setting out how the two bodies will co-operate in the regulation of the superannuation industry.

APRA is responsible for the prudential supervision of superannuation entities, retirement savings account providers and related entities. The ATO's superannuation responsibilities include the administration of the superannuation guarantee and other laws that govern the taxation treatment of superannuation contributions and benefits. From 1 July 1999 the ATO is expected to be responsible for the supervision of self managed superannuation funds.

The MoU sets out the framework for the two agencies to work together to achieve efficient administration and consistent application of legislation, particularly the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993.

The MoU establishes a Co-ordination Committee consisting of senior members of APRA and the ATO.

This Committee will ensure there is a continual exchange of information of relevance to the administration of superannuation legislation and major developments in the superannuation industry.

Mr Carmody welcomed the MoU as a positive initiative to assist the consistent and effective ongoing administration of superannuation legislation and retirement income policy.

Mr Thompson said this MoU provides a more formal framework for co-operation between APRA and the ATO, which have already been working very well together.

"Such co-operation is essential to the effective implementation of the Government's retirement income policy and the protection of superannuation benefits", Mr Thompson said.

For further information contact:

Thea Rosenbaum

Company Secretary


Tel: (02) 9210 3103

Robert Ball

Director - Public and Industry Communications

Australian Taxation Office

Tel: (02) 6216 8284 or 0418 869 183 (mobile)









1. Objective

1.1 This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) sets out a framework for co-operation between APRA and the ATO (the agencies) to facilitate co-ordination between the agencies in relation to superannuation matters, including the exchange of confidential or protected information.

1.2 The agencies agree that, consistent with their separate roles, they will provide to each other the fullest mutual assistance within the framework of this MoU and as authorised by law in relation to the exchange of confidential or protected information. Co-operation and exchange of information between APRA and the ATO in relation to areas other than the supervision of superannuation will be dealt with, outside the coverage of this MoU, on a case by case basis.

1.3 This MoU is not intended to create binding obligations on either agency and each agency has the right to vary its terms at any time by agreement following consultation with the other agency.

2. Responsibilities of the Agencies

2.1 APRA is responsible for the prudential supervision of banks, life and general insurance companies and superannuation entities. If the State and Territory Governments agree, APRA will also be responsible for the prudential supervision of building societies, credit unions and friendly societies. In performing its function to protect the interests of depositors, policyholders and fund members, APRA is required to balance financial safety with efficiency, competition, contestability and competitive neutrality.

2.2 The role of APRA in respect of superannuation is to enhance the security of interests of superannuation entity members or depositors and Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) holders and to assist in maintaining the Government’s retirement incomes policy by:

•  regulating superannuation entities and RSA providers and related parties in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation and prudential requirements; and

•  developing the policy to be applied in performing the regulatory role.

2.3 The ATO is responsible, in relation to superannuation, for matters including the operation of structural mechanisms to support the superannuation system (such as the Small Holding Accounts Reserve), administration of superannuation guarantee arrangements and administration of the tax laws that govern the tax treatment of superannuation contributions and benefits (such as the superannuation contributions surcharge).

2.4 The ATO's mission in relation to superannuation is to support the provision of retirement income for the people of Australia, by:

•  ensuring employers make required superannuation contributions on behalf of employees;

•  making it easier for people to comply with superannuation obligations;

•  reducing tax related compliance costs imposed on participants in the superannuation system; and

• educating the community about superannuation.

2.5 When the ATO becomes responsible for the regulation of self managed superannuation funds, the agencies will regulate different types of superannuation funds under the same legislation. This will require the agencies to regularly consult to ensure consistent administration of the legislation.

3. Co-ordination Committee

3.1 A joint Co-ordination Committee will be established with senior representation from the agencies to facilitate close co-operation between the agencies. The Committee will operate according to an agreement and be responsible for matters such as co-ordinating information sharing , referral of matters and interagency co-operation, including with regard to transfer of responsibility for supervision of self managed superannuation funds. The Committee will also co-ordinate regulatory policy and operational matters such as administrative arrangements (to avoid duplication), statistical collections and industry consultation.

3.2 It is envisaged that liaison in respect of routine operational matters will occur on an 'as needed' basis between appropriate staff of the agencies.

4. Information Sharing

4.1 Full and timely exchange of information is a crucial element of co-ordination between the agencies.

4.2 The agencies agree that, subject to legislative provisions, information available to one agency which is relevant to the responsibilities of the other agency will be shared as requested. Each agency will provide relevant information to the other agency on a best endeavours basis, with consideration to the related degree of urgency. This will be subject to any relevant legal and operational considerations and any conditions which the provider of the information might place upon the use or disclosure of the information, such as claims of legal professional privilege.

4.3 When exchanging confidential or protected information, the agencies acknowledge the confidentiality and secrecy requirements of the Acts under which each agency operates. The agency providing the information has the right to specify the level of confidentiality attached to the information it provides to the other agency in order to protect that information from unauthorised use or disclosure. The agency receiving the information will take all reasonable steps to ensure such information is only used for the purpose for which it was obtained.

4.4 As a general rule, each agency will not disclose any confidential or protected information obtained pursuant to this MoU to any third party unless the prior consent of the agency which has provided the information has been obtained.

4.5 Subject to appropriate cost sharing, each agency may arrange for information relevant to its responsibilities to be collected from superannuation entities by the other agency.

5. Cost of Provision of Information

5.1 In general, the agency which receives the request for information shall bear the whole cost incurred by it in locating and providing the information to the agency which requested the information. If it appears to the agency which receives the request that it will incur substantial costs in responding to the request, it may make representations to that effect to the requesting agency and the agencies may negotiate a cost sharing arrangement in relation to the provision of that information.

6. Unsolicited Assistance

6.1 The agencies recognise that in the course of carrying out their functions and exercising their powers, each agency will periodically come into possession of confidential or protected information which would, if provided to the other agency, be likely to assist that other agency to administer or enforce the particular laws for which it is responsible.

6.2 The agencies agree to use reasonable endeavours to notify the other agency on a timely basis of the existence of any confidential or protected information of a kind referred to in clause 6.1, notwithstanding that t hey may have received no request from the other agency for such information.

6.3 The agencies will co-operate with each other to implement appropriate measures to develop in each agency an awareness to facilitate the provision of unsolicited assistance.

7. Referral of Matters

7.1 The agencies recognise that in the course of investigating a complaint or undertaking an audit or review, it may become apparent that the matter more appropriately falls within the jurisdiction of the other agency. The agencies therefore agree that the enforcement objectives of each agency will be enhanced if, after consultation, the matter is formally referred to and continued by that other agency.

7.2 The agencies acknowledge that there may be circumstances where matters will also be referred to other specialist agencies, subject to the legislative restrictions placed on each agency regarding the release of confidential or protected information.

8. Inter-agency Co-operation

8.1 The agencies agree that there will be regular liaison at a national, State or regional level to co-operate on matters of mutual interest relating to supervision of superannuation as included in the Co-ordination Committee agreement.

8.2 The agencies agree to co-operate in relation to their respective supervision of superannuation entities, particularly those superannuation funds with fewer than 5 members, to ensure efficiency and consistency of administration.


Graeme Tho mpson  Michael Carmody

Chief Executive Officer  Commissioner of Taxation

Australian Prudential Regulation  Australian Taxation Office


Date: 16 April 1999  Date: 16 April 1999



jy  1999-09-15  13:02