"The superannuation lobby is using your retirement savings to lobby against your interests. Today Super Consumers Australia formally launches to take on the $42 million super lobby and make sure you have an advocate looking out for your interests," says Xavier O'Halloran, Acting Director of Super Consumers Australia.
Super Consumers Australia at CHOICE is Australia's first dedicated and independent superannuation consumer advocacy organisation, as a new survey shows more than two thirds of Australians want their rights in superannuation represented independently.
"This is an important day for all Australians with superannuation. From now on, when decision makers are debating what to do with your retirement savings, there will be a voice in the room advocating for your interests," says Mr O'Halloran.
Super Consumers has been established to advance and protect the interests of people on low and middle incomes in Australia's superannuation system. This is delivered through robust research, investigative journalism and policy development targeted at making the superannuation system work better for people.
The new organisation is dedicated to ensuring that the interests of consumers and fund members are always put before the interests of shareholders and fund trustees in superannuation debates.
The initial focus of the small team is ensuring people don't end up in underperforming funds and improving the quality of life insurance policies offered through superannuation.
The Financial Services Royal Commission noted the lack of dedicated voices to advocate on behalf of consumers navigating the complexity of the superannuation system.
Australia currently has four major superannuation industry lobby groups representing fund trustees, with combined budgets in excess of $42 million, and employing more than 100 staff.
"There has been little dedicated consumer representation in superannuation policy for far too long," says O'Halloran.
"We will be keeping the industry on its toes.Trustees need to be held accountable for decisions that end up costing members money."
A nationally representative survey conducted by Super Consumers reveals that more than two thirds of people want an independent group that represents their rights. Almost half believe superannuation funds hold the most power in the superannuation system, but 60% want that power to lie with consumers.
Super Consumers Australia is seeking ongoing sustainable public funding to support its superannuation members' advocacy and assistance.
Super Consumers Australia was formerly known as the Superannuation Consumers' Centre.
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Xavier O'Halloran, Acting Director, 0415 823 607
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This idea of a stand alone superannuation consumers advocate was raised by CHOICE as a contribution to the 2010 Cooper review into superannuation.
The Super Consumers Centre (SCC) was formed in 2013 as a not-for-profit entity.
In July 2018, the SCC received $2.5 million in community benefit payments from ANZ and CBA, as part of ASIC enforceable undertakings. This allowed the SCC board to revise a three year operational plan.
During its startup phase, the SCC works in partnership with CHOICE. The two organisations are co-located sharing a platform for their advocacy, content and consumer advice.
Xavier O'Halloran was seconded from CHOICE as its first Acting Director, making submissions to the Financial Services Royal Commission during its superannuation (September) and insurance (October) rounds.
In December 2018, Productivity Commission inquiry into superannuation recommenced, that the Australian Government should, as a priority, provide adequate ongoing funding to support an independent superannuation members' advocacy and assistance body. The 2019-20 Federal Budget made a commitment to an expression of interest process to identify options to support the establishment of a superannuation consumer advocate.
The SCC rebrand as Super Consumers Australia in early 2019 and began hiring a total of five dedicated staff, including specialists in data analytics, policy advocacy, and investigative journalism.
The team has since been making submissions to a range of parliamentary inquiries and regulatory reviews, including on the recommendations of the Financial Services Royal Commission and Productivity Commission inquiry into superannuation; and engaging with federal politicians and the media on superannuation legislation before the parliament.
At its official launch today, Super Consumers Australia will host superannuation experts - including fund trustees, service providers, consumer advocates, regulators, and journalists - at an informal event in Woolloomooloo.