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Industry fund union control scrutinised

The federal government’s plan to have superannuation fund directors bound by ASX-listed company governance principles may ‘flush out’ trade union control, according to the assistant treasurer.

In an exclusive interview with ifa, Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos said the government was aware of the connections between some labour movement organisations such as trade unions and industry superannuation funds, claiming this link is one issue underpinning its proposals regarding super fund governance requirements.

“[This is why] we took a policy to the election around adopting ASX governance-type principles in these funds,” Mr Sinodinos said. “Making super funds more like corporates will help to flush out some of the connections and networks that sit behind that.”

However, the senator said this was not a party-political position, but rather a policy in line with the recommendation of the Howard government’s Cooper Review to introduce more independence for super fund boards.

“This is not about ‘getting’ anyone – the unions or anyone else – it is about creating a more level playing field, so that ultimately the members have more of an idea of who is running what and in whose name,” he said.

The comments follow a speech given to parliament in June by Coalition MP Paul Fletcher – now parliamentary secretary to communications minister Malcolm Turnbull – in which he argued Labor’s Fair Work Australia commission exacerbated union connections with industry super under the term of the previous government.