/Labor open to backing super choice bill

Labor open to backing super choice bill

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) strongly opposes the bill as it argues that workers make a “collective choice” over their funds by voting for the clauses during bargaining.

Labor senators in 2017 said they did not want to prevent collective bargaining from improving super and also wanted “safeguards” when individual workers chose their fund.

“It’s blatantly obvious that lots of evil has been done in the name of ‘consumer choice’ in the financial sector,” Mr Jones said in his latest statement.

“We want to ensure that consumers are empowered with the information they need to make choices in their best interests.

“We are using the Senate inquiry process to ensure there are no unforeseen consequences.”

Last month, Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine, whose union negotiated deals that locked workers into TWUSuper, said “only a government drunk on ideology and lacking economic nous would attempt to tinker with the current system”.

“We will defend this to the hilt, because it delivers for our members.”

Employer fines for useless funds

Submissions to the Senate inquiry into the bill include a push to hold employers to account over default super funds.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Josh Mennen argued employers should face civil penalties if they fail to choose funds that are “appropriate to the industry and employee demographics”.

Maurice Blackburn principal Josh Mennen said employers should have a legal obligation to pick funds that are “appropriate” to their workforce. Louie Douvis

The firm referred to a logistics company that entered a default arrangement with a retail fund despite its death and disability insurance excluding “hazardous” occupations like truck drivers. Drivers made up half the company’s workforce.

“Evidently, the wellbeing of his/her staff was of secondary importance to whatever other considerations were weighed up during the decision-making process,” Mr Mennen said.

Super Consumers Australia cited a similar case where a truck driver who suffered a stroke that left him half blind found out he was excluded from his fund’s death and disability insurance.

“While Wayne was not denied choice, this demonstrates that employers cannot always be trusted to choose the right super fund and associated insurer,” the organisation’s submission said.

However, Super Consumers director Xavier O’Halloran disagreed with Maurice Blackburn’s proposal to fine employers for bad choices.

“I can’t see how it would work,” Mr O’Halloran said. “Small businesses have no idea what a good super fund is – they need some guidance. They don’t have the time or expertise to go through insurance policies.”

The consumer advocacy group instead recommended a “best in show” list of funds for employers to pick from that would include tools to tailor options to workers.