Will the election be a barrier to unfinished business in super?

With 2022 being an election year, there are uncertainties as to whether superannuation reforms in the pipeline will be legislated despite bipartisan support and years of advocacy, according to the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST).

AIST chief executive, Eva Scheerlinck, said this year would be an opportunity for the institute to talk to both sides of government about what it wanted to see on the agenda for super reform including the removal of the $450 threshold, super on paid parental leave, and legislating the Retirement Income Covenant (RIC).

“The government was very keen to legislate the RIC but is now it’s going to committee and, there’s a question of uncertainty there about whether or not they'll be able to get that legislation passed by the parliament before the election comes about,” she said.

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“So, obviously supporting our members through all of that and talking about some of the practical implementation issues and some of the risks for them to manage.

“It really depends on what the timing of the election is going to be. Will it be in March or is it going to be in May? if the election is called for March I suspect that they won't have enough time to finish that committee process and then get it through to parliament.”

On the $450 threshold, Scheerlinck said there was no reason why the policy was continuing given bipartisan support and board support across the industry for the abolition.

“I really like to see that abolished and we were very disappointed actually that that wasn't debated in December before the Christmas break,” she said.

“Even on the night before it was scheduled to be debated I got confirmation from the minister's office that it was on the list for debate the following day. And then we learned in the morning that it had disappeared.

“It's a reform that's got bipartisan support, so it wouldn't be taking up a lot of the parliament's time and that adds to the disappointment that they couldn't make time for it. They said there were other things that had earlier implementation dates and needed to be given precedence in terms of debate. I would have preferred them to sit a little bit longer and get through the $450 threshold of course, as well.”

Scheerlinck noted that while there had been a lot of fiscal pressure on the government as a result of the pandemic, she hoped it would keep its legislated timetable for the increase in the super guarantee (SG) to 12%.

“They have made public statements are the last 12 months to say that they are committed to implementing that timetable. But of course, we won't know until we see what the next budget is and whether or not that is likely to continue,” she said.

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