Interview with Peter Ryan, The World Today, ABC Radio

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Transcripts

KELLY O’DWYER:

It is absolutely the end of the road for dodgy bosses. Basically, employers who deliberately do not pay their workers’ superannuation entitlements are robbing their workers of wages. It is illegal and it simply won’t be tolerated.

PETER RYAN:

Some employers have been very unscrupulous with the way that they pay the superannuation entitlement but this has been the going on for a number of years perhaps even since superannuation began.

KELLY O’DWYER:

Well this is true, there haven’t really been changes to the way that superannuation has been reported since the day that it started and this is a massive overhaul and it’s important because this is a very significant amount of money that we’re talking around about $2 billion out of around about $55 billion paid in superannuation guarantee payments and they are compulsory payments that are people’s wages that are paid in to these funds for their retirement future. We want to make sure that these employees are not short changed.

PETER RYAN:

So what sort of penalties could unscrupulous employers face if they keep robbing workers of their super?

KELLY O’DWYER:

They could actually face jail time if they are deliberately not paying their employees their entitlements and it’s appropriate that they do face jail time because it is in fact theft of someone’s entitlements. We think it’s critically important that people be able to have confidence in the system. Where that non-compliance is deliberate the ATO can pursue those appropriate penalties including jail time, and where there is a risk of insolvency of the business the Australian Taxation Office can help safeguard the employee’s superannuation entitlements before it’s too late.

PETER RYAN:

The tougher laws will also close a loophole where employers can short change employees when they delay salary sacrifice payments. How long has that loophole been open for?

KELLY O’DWYER:

It has been open the entire time that the superannuation system has been in place and our government has been very focused on making sure that this compulsory system works not just for the industry, not for the employers, not for the unions but it actually works for every individual Australian who is part of it because after all it is their money and they deserve to know that their money is being protected.

PETER RYAN:

Now on a related subject the corporate regulator ASIC has just released an investigation showing financial advisers slamming customers in to bank owned products and not acting in the best interests of clients in 75% of cases. Are you surprised especially given that a royal commission in to banks is just around the corner?

KELLY O’DWYER:

It is a very serious report but the government has not been sitting idly by when we have heard about misconduct in the industry, we have been very clear on legislating high standards for the quality of financial advice that is provided making sure that we lift those standards of professional behaviours and educational requirements. And we’re making sure that ASIC identifies serious beaches of the law and the government expects that where they do this they will take appropriate enforcement and administrative action.