O’Dwyer hits back at union super campaign


By Sarah Kendell

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Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O’Dwyer has said the union movement is “setting out to mislead MPs” amid a concerted push from the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to get the Senate crossbench to block legislation for a second time that would mandate independent directors to make up at least a third of all superannuation fund boards.

In a statement released this week, O’Dwyer said the reforms, which will be voted on in the Senate later this month, were designed to lift all super funds to a minimum standard of independent oversight and did not benefit one sector of the industry over another.

“The ACTU and affiliated unions have, according to documents lodged with the Australian Electoral Commission, received at least $53 million from super funds over the past decade, much of which is from ‘sponsorships’ and directors fees which are often paid directly to trade unions, and are clearly seeking to protect their own financial interests,” she said.

“Australians deserve the best and brightest minds sitting around the table making the right decisions free from conflict or vested interest.”

The comments follow the ACTU executive’s endorsement of a dossier titled ‘Banks aren’t Super’ that will be sent to all parliamentarians prior to the next sitting, detailing dozens of scandals involving the major banks and urging a vote to block a number of super-related reforms.

These included the new board governance laws, which were previously blocked by the Senate in 2015, and a bill to allow all workers under enterprise bargaining arrangements a free choice of fund, which is currently before the House of Representatives and will be voted on in the last week of November.

In a statement, ACTU president Ged Kearney said diluting union influence in the super sector would lead to an increase in unpaid super contributions.

“Ensuring workers’ super is paid to the default industry fund is a difficult job for workers and their unions – too many employers are trying to get away with avoiding their obligations already,” she said.

“Opening this up to allow in the banks will make it harder to ensure workers are paid properly.”

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