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Super purpose enshrinement gets mixed reaction

The federal government’s intention to implement the Financial System Inquiry (FSI) recommendation to have the purpose of superannuation enshrined in law has been met with a mixed reaction from the SMSF sector.

The SMSF Association welcomed the announcement and was optimistic about working with the government to shape the objective.

“We have been a strong advocate of this important policy initiative, having argued its importance to the FSI and then endorsing the FSI’s recommendation to enshrine the primary objective, with a focus on the provision of retirement income as the quintessential focus of super,” SMSF Association chief executive Andrea Slattery said.

“It’s been our strongly held position that having a universally agreed primary objective is essential to bring stability to superannuation policy and help take it out of the budgetary cycle where it is at the mercy of the government of the day’s fiscal demands.”

Slattery added enshrining the objective of super in law would help individuals focus on a long-term saving strategy and give them more confidence in the system.

The SMSF Owners’ Alliance reacted slightly differently to the government’s position. 

While it thought the announcement was a positive move, nevertheless it insisted the purpose of super as outlined in the FSI was too limited and should be extended.

The lobby group suggested the goal of superannuation be defined as “to encourage every Australian to be self-reliant and able to maintain a standard of living in retirement that bears a reasonable relationship to that before retirement by way of fair, equitable and efficient tax incentives that recognise the inherent bias against savings in the income tax system”.

It pointed out the system should be fair in that the tax treatment of retirement savings should not be overly generous or inadequate, should be equitable for all members regardless of income levels, and should be equitable so as to achieve the right balance between allowable tax concessions and adequate taxation revenue to enable the desired outcomes to be achieved.

In March, the government released the discussion paper, “The objective of superannuation”, which was designed to start the consultation process to have the purpose of super enshrined in legislation.

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