The Government has started the process for establishing the purpose of superannuation in legislation but has acknowledged it will not necessarily have any over-riding legal impact.
The almost token status of the superannuation purpose has been revealed in the discussion paper issued by the Treasury at the behest of the Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O'Dwyer, which makes clear that the "purpose" will be utilised by Governments as a "policy guide".
That discussion paper states, in part: "Notwithstanding where the objective is legislated, the purpose of stating the objectives of the superannuation system in legislation is only to guide the policy-making process. It will not affect the interpretation or application of superannuation legislation by the courts."
In releasing the discussion paper, O'Dwyer said the objective "to kick-start the process for meeting the Government's commitment to enshrine the objective of superannuation in law".
"The Government agreed as part its response to the Financial System Inquiry to develop and introduce legislation to enshrine the objective of the superannuation system," she said. "Enshrining the objective of the superannuation system in legislation will provide a guide to policy makers, regulators, industry and the community about superannuation's fundamental purpose."
"Having an agreed objective for superannuation is critical to securing trust and integrity. It is also a means for increasing confidence in the superannuation system as a whole," O'Dwyer said.
The discussion paper references directly the recommendations of the Financial System Inquiry and seeks submissions on whether those recommendations are supported and what the options ought to be.