Sir Anthony Mason has identified triggers which may “frustrate the expectations” of superannuants and in turn threaten the confidence Australians have in the superannuation system.
Addressing delegates at the SMSF Association’s national conference in Melbourne yesterday, Sir Anthony said despite the good reasons for confidence in Australia’s superannuation system, consistent changes to the system can adversely affect investor sentiment.
“Confidence is at risk of being shaken when assumptions are disturbed by changes to the system, whether the changes are tax related such as taxation rates, concessions or dividend imputation, or otherwise,” Sir Anthony said.
“Such assumptions form the basis on which contributors and their advisers decide the level of superannuation contributions and the nature of investments to be made to support the benefits which the individual contributor makes to fund his retirement.
“If government disturbs those assumptions, it may frustrate the expectations of superannuants.”
The provision of poor or flawed financial advice, including that offered from advisers licensed by major institutions, is one of the greatest threats to public confidence in the super system, Sir Anthony added.
Sir Anthony also drew reference to the ongoing debate regarding superannuation tax concessions, noting Treasury figures are often referenced in arguments which favour cuts.
There is reason to suggest Treasury estimates are inflated or based on unreal behavioural assumptions, Sir Anthony said.
“Whatever the position may be, if there is to be a debate about the cost to government of superannuation concessions, we need to know the true cost and how it is arrived at,” Sir Anthony said.
“The SMSF Association has requested the Treasury to provide relevant behavioural assumptions of its estimates. Treasury has declined to do so,” he added.
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