From the Editor

From the Editor: Well left

The swearing in of the new Turnbull government gave the Australian public its third assistant treasurer in just over two years.

The Member for Higgins, Kelly O’Dwyer, was sworn in as Assistant Treasurer and Minster for Small Business in the new-look cabinet, giving her the responsibility of overseeing superannuation and financial services federally.

Having three assistant treasurers in such a short period of time would no doubt make a lot of people in the retirement savings sector nervous.

If there is one thing most industry players agree on, it is the need for legislative stability within the current superannuation system.

This can be potentially very difficult to achieve when the government ministerial portfolio seems to have a revolving door attached to it.

In saying that, changes to the superannuation framework are not necessarily a bad thing as long as they are considered and implemented for the betterment of all Australians.

To ensure this will happen we need champions in Canberra for the retirement savings cause. However, champions will be very hard to nurture if the elected officials involved are continually being chopped and changed.

And there is no other superannuation segment more in need of a champion for its causes than the SMSF sector as it keeps coming under attack after attack from other self-interested industry players.

More than any other market segment it needs a government official who has a deep understanding of it and can cut through the noise to determine issues that are of genuine concern as opposed to irrelevant noise whipped up by those looking to protect their own patch of turf.

But perhaps the government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry (FSI) delivered during October has given us an indication continuity can be achieved even though the actors in the play are different.

The new cabinet ministers involved, primarily Treasurer Scott Morrison and Assistant Treasurer O’Dwyer, showed there had been a seamless handover of responsibility with a final decision as to how to proceed that was consistent with the previous messages emanating from Canberra on the subject.

In particular, their handling of the one recommendation with the greatest significance for the SMSF sector, being the outright banning of the use of gearing within super funds, might be the greatest source of joy and optimism.

The government chose not to adopt this recommendation and it turned out to be the only finding of the 44 included in the FSI panel’s report that was passed over.

In making the decision the government stated it found insufficient statistical data to indicate significant policy intervention was required.

A sensible caveat was included though and that was the commissioning of the Council of Financial Regulators and the ATO to closely monitor the situation and associated risks and report back to the government in three years’ time.

The announcement reminded me of something I was taught as a youngster during numerous cricket coaching clinics and that is sometimes your best innings as a batsman are defined by the balls you choose not to play at.

So in this instance, I’d have to commend the government and, to use a cricket term, say to it “well left”.

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