Super funds can be used to benefit working Australians

Contributed by Glen

I must admit, I’m no fan of what’s called Industry Superannuation (Industry Super). It was brought in as part of the ’social wage’ under the ALP-ACTU Prices and Incomes Accord. It’s basically about privatising your pension.

As the French Maoist philosopher Alain Badiou says, one divides into two. Industry superannuation is a form of financé capital. Despite its intent, and the obvious limitations, it’s something we can use to our advantage.

In Australia a culture of scandal is appearing in the Retail Superannuation sector, with the role of the Banks being particularly criticised. The banks are accused of not acting in the best interest of their consumers.

In this context Industry Super funds are considered better investors/managers of our money. Yet the banks have friends in high places, with the Federal Government only too happy to assist them in maintaining their power and influence.

The Federal LNP Coalition Government has decided to attack the Industry Super funds.

On the guise of making them more transparent, they seek different governance structures. The desire for an ‘independent’ chair, and a 1/3 of the board seats being given to ‘independent’ directors, is about taking away the role of employee representation: Unions.

This is part of their obsession to destroy organised labour, in any of its guises. It is likely they will get what they want, in having ‘independent’ directors on the boards. ‘Independent’ in this context meaning people drawn from within, the finance sector, including the very same banks, criticised for not putting consumers first.

While we have employee representation on these boards, let’s have them acting not just to produce a return for the fund, but to act on behalf of working people. Let’s get our representatives acting on behalf of us, the workers whose value from our surplus labour ends up in these schemes.

We’ve seen the Industry Super funds constantly getting a better return than their retail competitors. For example, CBUS got a return of 11.85% over the 2106-17 financial a year.

We’ve recently heard that Industry Super funds in the United States of America have invested $1billion, for building houses., as they give a better return for their members. Building houses creates jobs and homes for those who need them.

Recent figures indicate there are 105,237 homeless Australians. With the cost of housing being considered the biggest contribution to poverty in Australia we need to do more.  Maybe the money in Industry Super can be used to build homes and create jobs here, instead of primarily using workers money for speculating, focusing in shares.

What about trying to re frame the way Industry Super is used, to help build a better, more equitable future? If played properly, Industry Super funds could give us our own future fund.


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