The Albanese government will move to close an eight-year loophole that means seven million people do not have clear information about how their retirement savings are faring.
The minister for financial services, Stephen Jones, says he wants to ensure that complex superannuation funds, which are primarily managed by private companies, are required to provide the same performance data as simple funds.
Legislation requiring super funds to provide a “dashboard” to members that gives information about how well the fund is performing, as well as fees and charges, was introduced by the last Labor government in 2013.
Since the end of 2013, simpler MySuper funds, many of which are offered by the profit-to-member industry super sector, have been required to provide dashboards.
Choice funds, where members can select from a menu of investments, were supposed to offer a dashboard from March 2014. However, after taking power at the 2013 election the Coalition failed to introduce regulations required to implement dashboards for choice funds.
As a result, the corporate regulator has given choice funds, many of which are run by for-profit operators, six exemptions from complying with the law – most recently this week, when it extended the grace period to 2027.
“This has been hanging around for a long time,” Jones told Guardian Australia.
“There is no good reason why that sort of transparency should not be put in place for members of all superannuation funds.
“I look forward to engaging with regulators and industry as a matter of urgency to ensure this happens.”
Asked if this meant he would make the regulation needed to give teeth to the requirement for choice funds to provide dashboards, he said: “I would need a bloody good reason not to see this regulation made.”
About 80% of the money managed by for-profit, or retail, super funds, are in choice products while just 38% of the money managed by industry super is in choice products.
On Tuesday, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission gave the choice funds relief from the law until 1 October 2027 – 13 years after the legislation came into force – despite objections from profit-to-member funds.
In a submission to Asic, Industry Super Australia (ISA) said that “further deferral by Asic continues to enable the choice sector to avoid scrutiny – disadvantaging millions of members who invest in choice products”.
“This cannot possibly reflect the will of parliament at the time the law was passed.”
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST), which represents trustees of industry funds and other not-for-profit funds, told Asic that the failure to mandate dashboards for choice products “denies an important consumer protection from the millions of Australians holding choice superannuation products”.
In a submission to Asic it said that the lack of dashboards made it harder for people considering switching to or from a choice fund to compare it with other options.
“In other words, all members are impacted by the failure to implement the product dashboard regime as legislated by the Australian parliament, and Asic should not contribute to this by extending the delay to 13 years.”
Both ISA and the AIST told Asic there was enough time to introduce regulations before the existing exemption expired on 1 July next year.
Asic said that it extended the relief because the law “cannot apply without regulations and the regulations have not been made”.
“If choice product dashboard regulations are made by the government, Asic will withdraw its relief,” it said.