Labor to examine ATO unpaid super enforcement if elected

If elected, Labor will examine how effective single touch payroll (STP) data is at stopping unpaid superannuation and will examine the Australian Taxation Office’s (ATO) ability to enforce unpaid super payments.

According to the ATO, $3.5 billion of super is not paid to workers every year while Industry Super Australia (ISA) said the number was $5 billion.

Speaking at the Brighter Future for Members webinar hosted by ISA, Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer, Stephen Jones, said “whether it’s $3 billion or $5 billion, it’s a huge amount of money that isn’t going towards workers retirement incomes”.

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He said Labor would be looking into mechanisms to allow individuals to represent their unpaid interest claims rather than the ATO in their behalf.

“Because it's quite perverse at the moment – the tax office has the right to recover the data but the individual doesn't,” he said.

Jones also confirmed he would make sure the $450 superannuation threshold was scrapped as legislation to scrap it was pulled by the Government in the last week of parliament.

If elected, Labor said it would allow the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) to take into account the religious affiliation of a super fund when applying the Your Future, Your Super performance benchmark.

Asked whether allowing exemptions would create a bad precedent and lead to dangerous territory, Jones said that would not be the intention of a Labor government.

“One of the operations of the Your Future, Your Super laws patently and obviously discriminate against funds which have been established for a faith-based investing purpose and I wouldn’t propose that we should carve them out from a performance test,” he said.

“If the only reason these guys have failed is because they have invested or have not been able to invest in products or businesses that are a breach of their religious principles, then that should be taken into account when [APRA] assesses them.”

Senator Jane Hume, minister for superannuation, financial services, and the digital economy, said the same rules should apply to every fund.

“There’s no reason why you can’t invest ethically and make good returns,” Hume said.

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