6The establishment of the Charter will necessitate the creation of a body, independent of Government, to provide advice to Government on superannuation policy.
Role of the Council
The Council of Superannuation Custodians is to act as an impartial, expert superannuation body, effectively ‘stewards’ of the superannuation system. Its role could be to:
- Assess the compatibility of proposed future superannuation policy changes or legislation referred to it against the Charter.
- Consult where required on issues referred to it by the Minister.
- Produce annual reports on the adequacy, performance and sustainability of the system.
- Conduct research and publish statistics.
- Make recommendations for improvements to the superannuation system.
Question 13: Should the Council also be able to examine and report on issues on its own initiative?
Powers of the Council
To fulfil its role the Council could be given:
- The ability to make assessments of proposed superannuation policy changes against the principles of the Charter.
- The authority that these assessments would be tabled in Parliament to inform consideration of any proposed legislation.
- The ability to conduct research and publish statistics and reports.
Question 14: What powers should the Council be given in order to effectively carry out its role?
Question 15: Should the Council have the capacity to recommend policy changes?1626
Structure of the Council
Question 16: How should the Council be assembled to adequately reflect the wide range of community views on superannuation?
Relationship with Other Bodies
The Council’s powers will be clearly delineated. In considering the role and structure of the Council it is necessary to take into account how the Council will interact with existing bodies charged with monitoring the superannuation system or advising on superannuation policy. It would, in general, be undesirable if there were areas of duplication between the Council and other bodies. Any areas of overlap should arise as the result of deliberate decision rather than as unintended consequences. For example, the Council may provide advice on broader superannuation policy areas, such as whether further regulatory protection is required to promote confidence or protect retirement savings. However, the Council would not:
- Replace the Treasury as having primary responsibility for advising Government on superannuation taxation, regulation and prudential policy;
- Have power over regulatory or prudential settings. That would remain the responsibility of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC); or
- Determine matters that are currently the preserve of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), such as managing compliance with the sole purpose test and non-payment of superannuation entitlements.
Other bodies in this field include the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, an independent dispute resolution body that deals with a diverse range of superannuation related complaints, and the Superannuation Consumer Centre, which the Government announced in the 2012-13 MYEFO would be established as a non-profit organisation with a primary focus on superannuation policy research and related consumer advocacy.
Existing superannuation advisory bodies include the Superannuation Roundtable, the SuperStream Advisory Council, and the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC), established to provide a source of independent advice to Treasury Ministers on issues that arise from time to time in corporations and financial markets law and practice.
Question 17: How would the work of the Council relate to the activities of existing bodies?
Question 18: Will the establishment of the Council require changes to the role or structure of existing superannuation oversight bodies?
Establishing the Council of Superannuation Custodians
The Council could take the form of an advisory panel, convened to meet regularly, or it could be a statutory or corporate body, with functions and powers set out in legislation. Both models have advantages and disadvantages on a spectrum of regulation and cost.
There are a range of existing bodies that provide possible models for the Council.
- The Productivity Commission is statutory body that advises the Government on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians.
- The Housing Supply Council is an advisory body that provides advice to the Government on housing policy issues and produces an annual report on the state of the housing market. It meets regularly and has a budget to commission its own research.
Question 19: What structure and supporting legislation is necessary to ensure the Council operates at arms length from Government?