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Industry fund union ties formally under spotlight

The Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption has confirmed it is interested in examining the labour movement’s influence over industry super funds.

Yesterday, the commission released a discussion paper calling for submissions from stakeholders on a range of issues pertaining to trade unions, including ties to the superannuation sector.

“Potential for coercive conduct and conflicts of interest in enterprise bargaining identified in respect of employee benefit funds also exists in respect of superannuation funds,” the discussion paper stated.

“This is because of the institutional links between trade unions and industry superannuation funds.

“Industry superannuation funds pay substantial sums to the unions with which they are associated including directors’ fees, reimbursement of director’s expenses, office rental, advertising expenses and sponsorship.”

Commenting on the discussion paper, FSC boss Sally Loane said the royal commission process demonstrates it is time to “decouple” super from the industrial relations lobby.

“If Australians are forced to save a portion of their salary for 40 to 50 years, they must be allowed to decide who will be the custodian of their money,” Ms Loane said.

“All employees should be able to exercise choice of fund and all employers should be able to choose any MySuper product to be the default fund for their workplace.”