Senator John Williams has called for parliament to introduce legislation that would bring criminal charges to lawbreakers in the superannuation industry.
Kerry Chikarovski delivered the comments on behalf of the senator at the annual WSSA conference; she added that, despite reports, the Senator was a friend to the banks.
“He has given them a belting when he feels they need it but equally has praised them in the media when they have done the right thing,” she said.
In his statement, Senator Williams said that he supported legislative change to the Superannuation Industry Act that could allow for criminal consequences for people that fail to meet their obligations.
“People when they commit criminal offences should face criminal laws, serious fines and jail term for stealing Australian workers money and retirement funds as they should,” he said.
The current legislation only allows for civil penalties. Senator Williams pointed out that an amendment has been introduced to the Upper House, where it has stayed for almost a year that, if passed, would allow for criminal charges to be also laid against those who contravene the act.
“You all know how this place works. If we don’t have the numbers it gets put on the backburner,” he said.
In April, the government announced changes to the Corporations Act that would see corporate criminals jailed for as long as ten years.
Senator Williams said that criminal acts were still criminal and that finance professionals needed to face the consequences.
“Criminal activity is criminal activity and I want to see these criminal charges attached to superannuation so in the future when individuals, trustees or directors steal money from the retirement funds of hard working Australians, they face the proper music,” he said.
Senator Williams was also supportive of another amendment to the Treasury Law that would remove exit fees for consumers from funds, along a range of other changes.
“It [the bill] protects-low balance accounts by transferring them to the ATO where no contributions have been made in 13 months or more,” he said.
The senator called upon his colleagues across the aisle to support these changes to the industry that would protect Australians.
“When these bills come here to the senate, if Labor and the Greens oppose that punishment, they will have to have a good reason for it,” he said.
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