Labor plans to fight the federal election on superannuation policies, the Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation announced at a financial services event in Sydney.

While the opposition agrees with the government on most aspects of its response to the Financial System Inquiry, the major differences which do exist are concentrated in superannuation, and it is these areas which will be the key areas of political contest.

Labor plans to keep challenging the government on a range of issues, including governance, how a super fund is chosen, the Superannuation Guarantee, the removal of the low income superannuation contribution and the easing of penalties on employers who don’t pay superannuation.

“These issues will dominate the coming year in superannuation policy, and that’s a good thing. Super is central to our financial system and the broader economy, so it should be central to the political contest too,” said Jim Chalmers, the Shadow Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, at a financial services event put on by Value Alliance.

“This election year you can expect to hear a lot more about all of these issues, where we differ and what we can do better within the fairly substantial fiscal constraints dictated by the serious deterioration of the budget in recent years.”

Challenged by a delegate about whether Labor’s opposition to proposed legalisation to mandate independents on boards was actually in members’ best interests, Chalmers said they hadn’t supported the measure because the government had failed to engage them on areas of “legitimate concern”, such as the definition of independent.

“It’s really about ensuring that if people wanted to have independent directors that would still preserve the best aspects of the representative model,” Chalmers said.

“The good thing about industry super funds, apart from the returns they are getting, is I like the idea of employers and employees sitting around the table. If there is a component of that which is independent … that’s terrific, because we do want high standards on boards.”

He added if the government was serious about finding the best outcome for members there would have been some negotiation. That they didn’t was a signal to him they only wanted an absolute outcome.

“I don’t think the government was fair about coming with the best possible outcome.”


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