The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia has urged the government to reconsider its plan to replace the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal with a new ombudsman service.
ASFA has been vocal in rejecting the recommendations of a government-appointed panel that is considering alternatives to the current external dispute resolution arrangements within financial services.
The panel’s interim report, titled Review of the financial system external dispute resolution and complaints framework, recommends the creation of a superannuation ombudsman to replace the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal.
The report also recommends the creation of a single ombudsman service to replace the Financial Ombudsman Services and the Credit and Investments Ombudsman, as well as the potential introduction of a compensation scheme of last resort for the financial services industry.
ASFA chief executive Martin Fahy said that rather than scrapping the Super Complaints Tribunal, the government should instead look at increasing its funding and resourcing.
"We don’t want to see an outcome where consumers end up with an inferior arrangement for dispute resolution when it comes to their super," Mr Fahy said.
Any move to a membership-based ombudsman scheme could "reduce or even jeopardise" a number of existing protections for consumers and trustees, he said.
"With the SCT, there is no monetary limit on access or redress and there is enforceability of determinations and rights of appeal," Mr Fahy said.
"A membership-based industry ombudsman scheme would provide scope for limits to be imposed on the type or value of claims that may be pursued, there would be no direct right of appeal and the possibility the individual would need to pursue contractual remedies against a provider to enforce a decision."
"There is significant scope to modernise the operation of the SCT through important changes to its governance, accountability and service model and this should be the priority for government," Mr Fahy said.
"Superannuation also has other features that set it apart from other products. There is often great complexity in disputes and many parties that may be involved, so it is crucial to have deep specialist knowledge and expertise in any dispute resolution body."
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