Let’s work together quickly: Stronger Super chair

The time for ideological argument was over, said the chair of the Stronger Super Committee, Paul Costello, and the industry should work constructively to implement the Australian Government’s response to the Cooper Review.

Costello and the rest of the committee met for the first time last week with the Minister for Superannuation, Bill Shorten, and the first priority was to appoint working committees for the four reform streams to be implemented: MySuper, SuperStream, Governance and SMSFs.

While the committee will provide broad, high-level advice on the design and implementation of the reforms, the working committees will drill down into technical specifics, and give practitioners beyond those on the committee a chance for further input.

Costello said this should address any concerns about a lack of direct operational expertise on the committee, none of whom have ever run a large super fund, with the exception of course of Costello himself. (He was CEO at Superannuation Trust of Australia and New Zealand Super, before his four-year stint at the helm of the Future Fund Management Agency.)

The working committees are close to be finalised, Costello said. Their prompt formation was necessary because Costello planned to hand the Federal Treasury the Committee’s implementation recommendations by “May or June”.

The industry veteran said he wanted to be part of the Stronger Super implementation because it could help provide a better retirement for working Australians, and he urged stakeholders to keep that goal in mind.

“The [Stronger Super] report will record where there are differences in preferred approach by the committee members, but I think the Government is really interested in consensus,” he said.

Acknowledging that ‘MySuper’ was one of the most controversial aspects of the reforms, Costello said the committee would give regard to maximising the long-term net returns received by working Australians, and not just minimising the upfront costs incurred by their fund.