Chris Bowen MP, shadow treasurer, says that a bipartisan agreement on the objectives of superannuation can be reached.

Addressing seventeen leaders of the superannuation industry, including chief executives of funds, directors of financial services companies and prominent thinkers, in an event hosted and created by Conexus Financial and Perpetual, Bowen asserted that clear objectives for the system need to be decided as it was not fulfilling relevant needs.

Bowen said: “The Murray inquiry (Financial System Inquiry) recommendation was arresting in its simplicity. Many people probably think there already is an agreed objective on superannuation system, and you could argue there should have been one a long time.”

He thought both Labour and the Liberals could reach an agreement on this.

“We have different policies and ideas, but this would be one area I would be more on the optimistic side of a bipartisan agreement. There should be an agreed objective. It would be really useful”

He reflected that too often superannuation was used to solve ancillary issues, rather than tackling the matters it should be facing.

“In ten years in parliament and six years as a minister someone has suggested one of those two solutions for every problem I’ve heard in politics: Either teach it in the curriculum or get super funds to invest in it! Of course superannuation is not there to fix the world’s problems. It can do other things as a by-product and a bonus – it can invest in infrastructure or provide liquid capital as it did in the global financial crisis – but that’s not what it’s designed for, it’s not its objective.”

Bowen gave his definition of what the objective should be for the superannuation system.

“I think it’s there for a dignified retirement for Australians. Pension replacement is important for the government, but a dignified comfortable retirement is what it should be about.”

His comments attracted a warm reception, with all of the assembled leaders agreeing that the superannuation system needs to be more than a replacement for the Age Pension.



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