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Industry Super-backed media outfit faces government scrutiny

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The Senate has voted to see details of the dealings between the ABC and Industry Super Holdings-owned media outlet, the New Daily, as a Liberal senator has raised the alarm about the use of super members’ money.

The motion passed in the Senate on Monday, has called on the public broadcaster to respond to questions placed on notice at Senate estimates during the appearance of ABC managing director David Anderson, regarding the commercial relationship between the two media outlets. 

Mr Anderson had already told the Senate in November that he would disclose the revenue ABC gained from the deal.  

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Liberal senator James Paterson moved the motion on Monday at the request of Andrew Bragg, a fellow Coalition senator and former FSC (Financial Services Council) policy director, who has also been a staunch critic of the industry super segment. 

Federal Coalition politicians, including Mr Bragg and MP Tim Wilson, have previously pressed Industry Super Holdings on its ownership of The New Daily, accusing the company owned by 27 super funds of sinking workers’ retirement savings into a “propaganda outfit”. 

The backing of the New Daily has been argued to violate superannuation funds’ sole purpose test, which requires funds to invest members’ money for the sole purpose of maximising their retirement benefits. 

The motion in the Senate noted the “New Daily has been funded out of compulsory retirement savings arising from superannuation guarantee contributions” and super trustees should be complying with the sole purpose test.

“The existing fiduciary duty which applies to super funds should prohibit this sort of waste but it has not,” Mr Bragg said.

“The new law proposed in the last budget will certainly prohibit this waste of workers’ money.”

The government’s Your Future, Your Super draft legislation referred to by the senator has proposed requiring trustees to disclose expenditure and prove it has been made in members’ best interests.

Under the framework, trustees could face civil penalties, which could escalate to criminal punishments where intentions are deemed dishonest or fraudulent.  

Mr Bragg also expressed concern in a statement that the New Daily content-sharing arrangement would impact the ABC’s reporting on superannuation.

The Monday motion stated information on the arrangements was important to ensure that the ABC’s editorial independence, balance and fairness had not been compromised by any commercial agreements with the New Daily

“Despite the ABC being prohibited from advertising, it is taking money from a highly dubious outlet which uses workers’ super to attack critics of super and political opponents,” Mr Bragg declared.

 

Industry Super-backed media outfit faces government scrutiny
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Sarah Simpkins

Sarah Simpkins

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].

 

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