AMP, Industry Super Holdings and other key players in the superannuation sector are set to be scrutinised by a parliamentary economics committee, with its chair signalling the inquiry will be assessing funds’ operations through COVID.
The public hearing taking place on Thursday is part of the House of Representatives standing committee on economics’ ongoing review into the financial services sector following the royal commission.
The parliamentary committee will be questioning Mine Super, Hostplus, Cbus, property specialist manager ISPT, AMP and Industry Super Holdings.
Committee chair and Liberal MP Tim Wilson commented: “Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic a significant number of Australians have accessed their super to support themselves during this difficult time.”
“It is crucial that the superannuation sector is operating effectively, fairly and to the benefit of fund members.”
Mr Wilson recently indicated support for access being granted to superannuation savings for first home buyers entering the property market, similar to Liberal senator Andrew Bragg.
The committee could also be likely to ask questions around the hotly contested super guarantee rise, as Liberal members cast doubt on whether the legislated increase should proceed from its current rate of 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent next year.
CBA chief Matt Comyn confirmed his bank pays the mandated SG rate of 9.5 per cent to its employees and that if the increase to 10 per cent were to go ahead, there would be extra labour costs for the business, adding further costs to hire more staff.
But he was reluctant to agree outright with Mr Wilson in the MP’s line of questioning.
“…Why don’t you pay your staff more than 9.5 per cent in superannuation?” Mr Wilson said.
“Because like most employers we align with what’s required of us which is 9.5 per cent,” Mr Comyn responded.
“Right. Okay, so the benefit is there but it’s not so great that somehow CBA sees that it’s necessary to contribute further,” Mr Wilson stated.
“It’s a recognition that if that’s the standard, that’s the standard we’ll meet, but otherwise we recognise that it would come at the expense of jobs to contribute more towards it.”
“I’m not sure that you could frame it entirely that way, but yes, it’s also individuals are able to contribute additional amounts to their own superannuation,” Mr Comyn said.
“Of course, it’s the beauty of freedom to choose in a free society, rather than having the government compel you to do things,” Mr Wilson commented.
The remaining big four banks, NAB and Westpac, are also set to be questioned on Friday.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].