AFTER SCRAPING HOME IN THE 2010 FEDERAL ELECTION, THE GILLARD GOVERNMENT HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO UNDER-PROMISE AND OVER-DELIVER IN PUBLIC POLICY, SAYS BILL SHORTEN, the former unionist and new Minister for Financial Services. And one of the key policy platforms it aims to reform is superannuation. Speaking with industry executives in an exclusive roundtable convened by Investment Magazine and sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management, Shorten charted his plan to rally support in the push for a 12 per cent superannuation guarantee, remove conflicted remuneration structures from the industry and restore consumer confidence. SIMON MUMME reports.
Bill Shorten says there should be no reading of tea leaves to predict whether the Federal Government will deliver an increase in the superannuation guarantee (SG). “We will implement what we say we’re going to do,” he says, unequivocally. “Let’s be clear: we support nine to 12 in this government.” He’s been the Minister for Financial Services for a matter of months, but as a former trustee of the $32 billion AustralianSuper and director of the $34.7 billion Victorian Funds Management Corporation, he is no stranger to the sector and the rivalries that have flared between the industry fund and retail sides. But there is much to deliver: his predecessors, Nick Sherry and Chris Bowen, oversaw the wide-ranging Cooper Review of the superannuation system, and the Johnson Report on Australia’s potential to become a more competitive funds management and broader financial services market in Asia.
Due to make his formal Cooper response before Christmas, Shorten met with senior executives from the profit-for-members and retail camps, plus industry association chiefs, in an exclusive roundtable to chart his views on what the industry should deliver to Australians and how this can be achieved. Foremost on his agenda is victory in Labor’s long campaign to boost the SG from 9–12 per cent. Without a majority in Parliament, the Government must convince the Opposition and the three Independents of the merits of a deeper superannuation pool. A crucial part of this effort will be selling the benefits of more super to the Australian people. Currently, superannuation is an “unvarnished gift” to the economy and the public, which Shorten says can provide much more. The debate summons parallels with the 1985 push by unions and the Labor Government to ensure that more than a small proportion of wealthy Australians had a private savings plan.