The right to corporate responsibility and the right to privacy for the consumer could join the four foundational consumer rights in law and policy globally.

Addressing a room filled with some of the best from the superannuation sector Jenni Mack, founder of consumer advocacy group the Superannuation Consumers Centre, said fund members will increasingly demand the industry takes more responsibility for the sort of society they retire into.

“Your investment choices will increasingly shape the sort of society we become,” Jenni Mack said. “Compulsory super ranks as one of the most transformative social and fiscal policies in our country’s history.”

Mack cited consumer rights, laid out in an historic speech by President Kennedy to the US Congress in 1962, as the foundation to consumer law and policy globally, and said Consumers International, a world federation of consumer groups, was debating whether the right to corporate responsibility and the right to privacy should be included. The foundational rights are:

  • •The right to safety
  • •To be informed
  • •To choose
  • •To be heard

 

Supporters of these new additional rights, see it as a logical progression of the way the compulsory system put consumers first when coverage was extended to all employees in 1994.

She added, one of the great strengths of the super system, from the consumer perspective, is that it is built on an understanding of consumers’ behavioural biases, even before Daniel Kaheman’s 2002 Nobel prize or Sunstein and Thaler’s Nudge popularised the concept. The compulsory nature of contributions recognises that, left alone, people will not save enough for their retirement, she said.

In a separate point Mack said initially the consumer movement was pretty shocked when David Murray was chosen to head the Financial Systems Inquiry (FSI), but he had turned out to be man for the job, putting consumer benefit product governance and product intervention powers at the heart of the FSI and placing ASIC where it should be – preventing detriment to the consumer rather than clean up after the fact.

In her opinion, his legacy will be embedding behavioural economics into the policy and regulatory settings of the financial system.