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Are you an RBF Defined Benefits superannuation member?

In 2017 the Tasmanian Government disbanded the state’s public sector superannuation fund, Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF). At the time, it transferred RBF members with accumulation accounts to Tasplan Superannuation and established a Superannuation Commission to manage the RBF Defined Benefits Scheme.

Following consultation with public sector unions and other stakeholders three Superannuation Commissioners were appointed to manage the scheme. The Chair was Kerry Adby and the Commissioners were Chris Bevan (President of the Tasmanian Association of State Superannuants) and Leigh Mackay (from Ogilvie Jennings). All three had experience with defined benefits superannuation. They were the Trustees of the scheme – responsible for administering the scheme, including around $2.1 billion in contributions, in the best interests of the members of the scheme.

In October 2019, without any communication with stakeholders, the Treasurer decided not to renew the term of the Chair and replaced her with Evelyn Horton. Ms Horton has a wide range of experience in banking and sits on several Boards including some appointed by the Tasmanian Government. Her biography on the Treasury website doesn’t include any reference to experience with defined benefits superannuation schemes, however she was a Director of NULIS Nominees, the NAB’s superannuation Trustee.

In June 2020 Premier Gutwein announced that as part of his COVID-19 recovery plan $200m from the $2.1b managed by the RBF trustees would be made available for investing in Tasmania and the ‘options’ on how this money would be invested would be determined by the Premier’s Economic & Social Recovery Advisory Committee (PESRAC). The aim of the investment would be to ‘increase economic activity, create jobs and strengthen social outcomes’. (see media statement 4 June 2020)

It wasn’t clear at the time of the June announcement how the Premier could require the RBF Trustees to invest the money they held on behalf of members of the scheme in the way he proposed. His statement said ‘Treasury will implement arrangements, whereby up to 10 per cent of the Fund’s investments will be invested in Tasmania…’

On 29 August 2020, the Premier announced, again without any consultation, that he would not be renewing the terms of the remaining two Superannuation Commissioners, Chris Bevan and Leigh Mackey, and that effective 1 October 2020, there would be only one Trustee, the relatively newly appointed Chair, Evelyn Horton. This means it will be Ms Horton alone who decides whether $200 million worth of the assets she is now the sole Trustee of, should be invested in a Tasmanian Economic and Social Investment Fund on options identified by PESRAC.

We are not saying anyone’s superannuation entitlements are at risk.

Even if $200 million is taken from the fund, the Government is still responsible for the whole unfunded liability but there are often public criticisms of the superannuation liability and if the Government reduce the funds the Trustee manages then the returns will fall and the Government will need to allocate more money in the budget each year to fund the superannuation of members of the defined benefit scheme as they retire.

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Updates correct as at 6 October 2020.
Authorised by Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary

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2020-10-06T16:51:44+11:00
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