Huge changes to superannuation government claims will save more than $17 billion in fees

The Morrison government has passed some of the most significant changes to superannuation law in three decades, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg claiming it will put more money into the pockets of hardworking Australians.

The contentious superannuation laws, which the government says will boost savings and cut fees, cleared parliament on Thursday.

But the federal government was forced to delay the changes until November 1.

Currently, workers often unknowingly open many small accounts and get signed up to default insurance, attracting multiple fees.

From November, workers will be “stapled” to their existing super fund when they change jobs.

“Let’s not forget that Australians pay more than $30 billion in superannuation fees and charges every year,” Frydenberg said on Thursday.

“Yet many Australians don’t know the amount they have in super or indeed that it is their money to access.”

He said the overhaul of the $3.2 trillion superannuation pool will save consumers more than $17 billion.

The laws also benchmark performance and shuts down access to poorly performing funds.

But critics say it will trap millions of people in dud products, including super funds slammed for dodgy dealing by the banking royal commission.

The Industry Super Australia organisation says 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.

People in blue-collar jobs or people working in new riskier jobs may not be covered by their old insurance.

“Young workers who will move into hazardous sectors like building and construction deserve superannuation legislation that recognises their unique needs,” Cbus chief executive Justin Arter said.

A proposed review by Treasury will examine occupational exclusions in insurance.

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 government had already removed a contentious veto power for the treasurer over funds’ investment decisions.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said there were those in the government who believed it was “time to kill superannuation stone dead”.

“That is the view of the Liberal and National parties when it comes to workers having decent retirements and having dignity in their later years,” Albanese told parliament.

“They are not content to trash the aged care system – they want also before people get to aged care to have a pretty bad retirement.”

Centre Alliance senator Stirling Griff said the amendments addressed many of the problems in current rules that effectively reduced retirement incomes.

“Our changes will mean millions of Australians will retire with more money in their super and a better, more dignified retirement,” Griff said.

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