Liberal senator Andrew Bragg has launched a blistering salvo at the industry fund-owned media organisation The New Daily, accusing it of attacking critics of Australia’s superannuation system on behalf of “powerful vested interests”.
Mr Bragg accused industry funds of wasting $12 million in member money to establish The New Daily and using it as a vehicle to attack superannuation critics on their behalf, saying there was “no better example” of the need to strengthen fiduciary duties within the sector.
“The complacency and largesse is there for people to see. Super seems to think it is a state within a state. It shows the contempt that the super funds have for the ‘sole purpose test’, which requires a fiduciary style duty by super trustees to safeguard members’ savings,” Mr Bragg said in a statement.
Mr Bragg warned that the publication, which is funded through Industry Super Holdings – a holding company owned by Industry Super Australia (ISA) – was on “very shaky legal ground”, with APRA confirming to him that some funds “treated it as an expense, others as an investment”.
“APRA will have to improve its performance as a regulator. Failing to bring a single action to enforce the sole purpose test in the 30 years of compulsory super is a shocking indictment on APRA,” Mr Bragg said.
Mr Bragg has been a strident critic of the superannuation system, playing a role in the creation of the Your Future, Your Super reforms while at times acknowledging that the Liberal Party had been beholden to the interests of Australia’s finance sector.
“The Hayne royal commission showed the retail funds regularly preferred shareholder interests ahead of members. During the COVID crisis, industry funds have wasted money on television advertising with Mr Greg Combet’s face on it. Both should be breaches of the law.”
Mr Bragg also said that commercial arrangements between the ABC and The New Daily would soon be revealed to the Senate and that he hoped that the deal “will not cause any perception of conflict in the ABC’s coverage of our plan to reform super”.