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Changes to super fund disclosure rules blocked in the Senate

4 minute read

Labor’s proposed changes would have abolished the need for funds to provide itemised information on payments to unions and industry bodies as well as their marketing spend.

Updated regulations relating to requirements for superannuation funds to disclose expenditures in their annual members’ meeting notices have been blocked in the Senate.

Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones announced the controversial changes to the super fund disclosure rules last year following a month-long consultation period.

While super funds would still have been required to itemise all expenditures on political donations, the requirement for funds to provide itemised information on payments to unions and industry bodies, and in relation to their marketing spend, would have been abolished.


The changes had originally received the support of the Greens, but the party hopped the fence this week and stood behind a disallowance motion moved by independent senator Jacqui Lambie, which passed the Senate by 42 votes to 21 on Thursday (9 February).

Greens Treasury spokesperson Nick McKim accused Mr Jones of reneging on an agreement made between the Greens and the Labor party last year to include million-dollar fines for executives who breach their accountability obligations within the Financial Accountability Regime.

“After a day of shameless lobbying by the banks, the minister went back on his word,” he said.

“Today, the Greens have demonstrated that there are consequences for this.”

Senator McKim said that if the federal government expected the Greens to be reasonable, then it needed to demonstrate that the party could work with them in good faith, including by introducing the aforementioned million-dollar fines for “dodgy bankers”.

“The government also needs to get on with fixing up the mess that is superannuation annual member meeting notices,” he added.

“They need to bring forward legislation or regulation requiring APRA to publish relevant expenditure by all superannuation funds, for political purposes and for profit, all in the one place. This would allow consumers to easily make a comparison between their fund and other funds.”

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, who previously accused the government of trying to conceal millions of dollars in payments from super funds to unions, said that the disallowance motion represented a “massive defeat” for Labor.

“Today in the Senate, the attempt by Minister Stephen Jones to cover up payments from super funds to unions was blocked. The great super cover up is over,” he said.

“The Lambie disallowance means $30 million of retirement savings each year will now be disclosed to workers in their annual statements.”

Speaking to The Australian Financial Review ahead of the disallowance vote on Thursday, Mr Jones said that if he could go through the process again, he would go about it differently.

“I would have consulted, I would have done it all as a job lot. Can’t take my time back but we have fixed those issues,” he stated.

“If this disallowance gets up in the Senate, so be it. It won’t add one skerrick of additional transparency, the big winner will be Australia Post because a lot more mail will be sent around the country.”

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg

Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.