Australia’s superannuation industry needed to focus and move forward on what united it instead of becoming fixated on divisive issues, SMSF Association chief executive Andrea Slattery said today.
In her opening address at the 2016 SMSF Association National Conference in Adelaide, Slattery highlighted three principles the industry must commit to before other policy changes were considered.
Enshrining the objectives of superannuation in legislation, deciding on a more relevant measure of super tax concessions, and committing to adequacy, sustainability and equity in the system were all imperative, she emphasised.
“These three changes in principles, if implemented, would produce a far different picture of the cost and value of superannuation,” she said.
“The entire tenor of the current public debate would change.
“[However,] with an election looming this year, superannuation is already proving to be a divisive issue.”
Although superannuation had been Australia’s long-term savings vehicle since its introduction in 1992, over time its objectives had become clouded, in addition to recent public debate that highlighted some had lost sight of why the system existed in the first place, she pointed out.
That had resulted in short-term thinking becoming the new norm, she said.
“Stating these fundamental principles highlights that there is so much more that unites us than divides us and it’s imperative we find commonality of purpose,” she said.
“[The SMSF Association] provides critical leadership and a balanced voice in this national debate.
“We are genuinely committed to working closely with government on these and other important issues.”
It was crucial all future policy encouraged increased self-sufficiency in retirement to relieve the government of significant future fiscal requirements and engage in greater social wellbeing, she said.
However, the current super debate was happening at a time when investment markets were volatile and confidence was low, she said.
“In this investment environment, the need for certainty in our superannuation environment has never been more critical,” she added.
Slattery used her opening speech to thank outgoing SMSF Association chair Peter Crump for his contributions to the industry and welcome new chairman Andrew Gale and vice chair Robin Bowerman, who would assume their roles following the completion of the conference.
She also announced the association had entered into separate partnerships with the University of Adelaide and Kaplan Professional to offer Australia’s first full postgraduate qualifications specialising in SMSF advice.