The Federal Government has been forced to pull its controversial superannuation bills for the year after losing the support of key crossbench senators.
The bills were reintroduced in September and, among several policies, attempt to strengthen APRA's oversight over MySuper products; and mandate the appointment of independent directors to industry fund boards. They were put on hold after Senator Patrick and the Nick Xenophon Team withdrew their support, citing the exclusion of "choice" funds from the legislation.
"We hold real concerns about the transparency measures in regards to choice funds," Patrick told The Australian. "We support transparency measures but we cannot in good conscience support this bill until there is consistency in MySuper and choice products."
Both Labor and the Greens had already signalled their intention to oppose the bills, requiring the Government to find support among One Nation, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch.
The decision was welcomed by Industry Super Australia, who last week called on the Government to withdraw the bills, describing them as motivated by the commercial interest of the banks and the ideological leanings of some in the Government.
Industry Super chief executive David Whiteley today said the withdrawal of the bills present the Government with an opportunity to "put political partisanship aside" and "work with the entire superannuation sector to develop an even-handed approach to regulation."
Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer expressed frustration with the outcome, telling the ASFA conference that the campaign waged by industry super against the reforms shows they have something to hide.
"It is disappointing that some industry participants have used members' money in a multi-million dollar advertising campaign and lobbying effort in their bid to defeat increased transparency and accountability in the sector. One can only wonder why," she said.
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It remains unclear whether the bills will be reintroduced next year or shelved until after the Royal Commission hands down its findings in February 2019.