“Getting a retirement income of decent adequacy for people is an enormous task. If people are going to live to 85 or 90 years of age, the amount of money needed to be put aside for that is just massive compared to what is already in the system. It’s probably unachievable for most people.” The challenge of meeting these aims will still persist even if the push to 12 per cent is successful. Funds owe their existence to an act of Parliament and strong domestic economy, and this obligation should be reflected in the cost and quality of the services they deliver to members. “Given the industry exists because of government regulation and incentives, we should not lose sight of our public duty and what we’re trying to achieve,” Delaney says. “So we’re all proud of what we do, but what we’re also really trying to do is to get a bigger share of public duty. “I always think lobbying ministers is all about dressing up private interest as public interest, and all of us are trying to do that game a bit. “If we’re going to do a better job of it, we’ve got to get more money going in, we’ve got to get better returns, we have to take less money out in costs and we’ve got to protect consumers so they don’t get ripped off along the way.

The task isn’t all that hard: it just requires us to focus on the bigger picture and not our own self-interest.” COME TOGETHER  In November, the market learned of a potential $28 billion newcomer as The First State Super and Health Super announced their intention to merge. Alongside the merger of Equipsuper and Vision Super, it is among the major get-togethers the industry has seen recently. However some funds, such as the $2.4 billion LUCRF, remained committed to going solo. Much commentary in the industry – from the pensions intelligentsia, practitioners and Jeremy Cooper – argues for the scaling up of Australia’s super funds so they can deliver better investment and member service outcomes. However Shorten says the government will at this point not force smaller funds to merge with larger peers. “In the long-term, you’ve got to look at the best interests of your members,” he says, adding that mergers are a trend, “and I don’t think people are well served by people not looking at future trends”.

Nor will the Government reverse its overhaul of the superannuation award system in early 2009, which saw it select a collection of industry funds as default funds for a broad sweep of industries. This has been labelled one of the most effective distribution boosts received by any section of the industry. Shuttleworth conveys this when he says: “It doesn’t feel like a level playing field”. Shorten tries to play this down. “You know, this issue in which retail funds think there is some sort of Shangri La, El Dorado or Lassiter’s Reef of monopoly rent-seeking by industry funds, and that but for the award system, the world would be different and there would be all these serfs freed from domination who could flee to the sunny uplands of retail funds.”

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