Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 20 August 2014
Parliamentary Record 14
Debates for 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 12th Assembly 2012 - 2016
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 20 August 2014 4599 terms of data matching and personal identification technologies since this earlier view. Further, from 1 July 2013, the ATO pays interest, equivalent to the Consumer Price Index on lost and unclaimed superannuation accounts under their control. There is no longer a logical reason for the Territory to not opt in to the centralised Commonwealth regime. The transitional arrangements in the bill allow the opting in to the Commonwealth upon the relevant Territory schemes being prescribed in the Commonwealth Superannuation (Unclaimed Money and Lost Members) Regulations. Unclaimed money totalling approximately $0.5m currently held by the Territory in the Central Holding Authority will be transferred to the ATO along with the account details of those unclaimed members. As future lost and unclaimed accounts are identified these will also be transferred in line with ATO reporting requirements. It is also proposed to allow the Superannuation Trustee Board (the STB) the ability to form committees which overarch the relevant scheme funds under the boards control. The STB currently has $1bn under management, and oversees the funds of three of the Territorys public sector schemes, namely the Northern Territory Government and Public Authorities Superannuation Scheme (NTGPASS); the Legislative Assembly Members Superannuation Scheme (LAMS); and the Northern Territory Police Supplementary Benefit Scheme (NTPSBS). The use of the committee structure allows greater governance and oversight, and is a way of bringing board members closer to the day-to-day operation of the schemes and their respective fund. The committee structure is a common feature across the jurisdictions that have public sector schemes under management. The proposed reforms will also be in line with the recent Commonwealth StrongerSuper reforms and align with industry best practice. Further, it is proposed in the bill to allow the STB to apportion costs as it considers appropriate for the management of the funds under its control. The current STB governance arrangements were only finalised in 2012 and did not adequately address the ability to apportion board-related costs. It is the intention in the bill to do so now. It is also proposed in the bill to streamline NTGPASS and the Northern Territory Government Death and Disability Scheme (NTGDIS) to achieve equality of membership and to realise administrative efficiencies where possible. NTGPASS and NTGDIS are both established as separate schemes under the Superannuation Act and provide equivalent total and permanent disability and death benefits to their respective members. They have very similar features; however, the formulas used to calculate a financial benefit are different. NTGDIS covers most Territory public sector employees who are in choice of fund superannuation arrangements upon meeting certain conditions of employment. NTGPASS has been closed to new members since 1999. Mandatory medical classification provisions were repealed from NTGDIS as part of the legislative amendments undertaken in 2010. A medical classification was an assessment to determine if a new Territory public sector employee had a high risk of dying or becoming an invalid in their first 10 years of service. Those deemed at high risk were issued a reduced benefit certificate and their benefit entitlement was reduced until the 10-year period had elapsed. It was determined through actuarial advice that removing the medical requirements for new NTGDIS members would not materially increase the Territorys liability. Further, the assessment process was very costly to administer. As such it is proposed to also remove the medical classification provisions for NTGPASS members, allowing the same equality of membership that applies to NTGDIS members. As NTGPASS closed in 1999, some 15 years ago, any reduced benefit certificates on record will have expired. It is also proposed in the bill to realise a number of administrative efficiency measures as part of the modernisation process to simplify, improve or remove complex and redundant provisions. One such measure is to remove the NTGDIS anticipatory benefit payment. Anticipatory payments are made to alleviate financial hardship if a members salary is suspended or reduced due to a members incapacity whilst undergoing an assessment for invalidity retirement. Only one such payment has been made to date, meaning that from an administrative perspective the benefit is both inefficient and redundant. These situations are better addressed through employment measures such as the granting of additional sick leave by the relevant agency. Additionally, NTGDIS members belong to superannuation funds such as AustralianSuper. These funds provide a default level of benefit to their members, meaning there is no strong reason to continue offering an anticipatory benefit. Another proposed measure is to raise the payment threshold that the Commissioner of
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