Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has denied newly passed superannuation laws will trap millions of Australians in dud products, branding backlash as “scare tactics”.
Australian workers currently often unknowingly open many small accounts and get signed up to default insurance, attracting multiple fees.
Under new rules passed in parliament on Thursday, workers will be “stapled” to their existing super fund when they change jobs from November 1.
Mr Frydenberg spent Friday morning spruiking the reforms as the most significant to super since it was made compulsory in 1992.
“Through these measures, the Morrison government will ensure the superannuation system works harder for all Australians by reducing waste, holding underperforming funds to account and strengthening protections around the retirement savings of millions of Australians,” he said.
Mr Frydenberg said Australians pay more than $30 billion in superannuation fees and charges each year and the overhaul would save consumers more than $17 billion.
The laws also benchmark performance and shut down access to poorly performing funds.
But critics say it will leave millions of people stuck in dud funds, including super products slammed for dodgy dealing by the banking royal commission.
The Industry Super Australia organisation said the government has given poor super products a leg up at the cost of the workers they are fleecing with their high fees and lousy performance.
Labor opposed the changes and independent senator Rex Patrick failed to extend performance tests to more retail super products during the hard-fought final two days of debate.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said that would mean more than a third of super savings won’t be subject to the performance test, leaving millions of Australians stapled to underperforming and untested funds.
The peak body of the profit-to-member superannuation sector warned the package could cause more consumer harm than good and fail to deliver on its objectives.
“AIST remains deeply concerned that these legislative carve-outs provide incentives to unscrupulous providers to push high-fee, underperforming products onto unsuspecting consumers,” chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said.
Mr Frydenberg indicated those fears were baseless, with workers still able to choose to open a new super account when they change jobs.
“These are scare tactics,” he said.
“These reforms got through in the face of pretty fierce opposition. Not just from the greens, unions but also industry funds, who are on a pretty damn good wicket.”