Disclosure consistency between Future Fund and super funds needed

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) is calling on the Government to bring portfolio holdings disclosure obligations for Australian superannuation funds into line with proposed Future Funds legislation.

The industry body’s statement came after the release of a Senate Committee report on the proposed disclosure obligations for the Future Fund.

The Government’s report recommended the Future Fund be made exempt from disclosing asset prices, aimed at giving government funds the chance to operate on even footing with global markets.

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The bill amended the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act to provide a partial exemption for documents handled by the Future Fund board and its agency in respect of the board’s investment activities.

It would reduce the risk of disclosing highly sensitive confidential and commercial material and align the treatment of the Future Fund board and the agency under the FOI Act with that of other entities that deal regularly with commercial information, such as NBN Co and Export Finance Australia.

But AIST said the amendment contrasted proposed disclosure regulations for super funds as the same exemption would not be provided for them.

According to AIST, it would instead require the funds to disclose exact values of directly held assets such as infrastructure and property, a move it said was not in the best financial interests of super fund members.

AIST chief executive, Eva Scheerlinck, said it was prejudicial to the effective operation of the Australian super system and nonsensical that the disclosure obligations for the Future Fund and Australian super funds were inconsistent.

“Just like the Future fund, Australian super funds must be able to compete on a level playing field with global institutional investors who generally aren’t required to disclose commercially sensitive information,” she said.

“Forcing super funds to disclose such information will put them at a significant disadvantage to their competitors and compromise their ability to deliver the best investment returns for members which they do by investing in job creating initiatives in Australia and supporting the ongoing health of the Australian economy.”

Scheerlinck said AIST supported disclosure, including that of unlisted assets and had proposed a framework for disclosing information that doesn’t compromise returns to members.

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