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Matthew Smith has been a business and financial journalist for more than a decade. He previously worked with the Financial Times Group, reporting from New York on company buyouts and refinancing in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. He started his career reporting on the funds management industry in Sydney.

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SMSFs flex political muscle with call for a million to fight against super tax changes

Published 15 February 2013 09:59, Updated 18 February 2013 07:20

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SMSFs flex political muscle with call for a million to fight against super tax changes

“We do have political clout,” SPAA chief Andrea Slattery Photo: Jane Lindhe

The association for Self Managed Super Fund professionals will start collecting signatures from SMSF members in a petition asking Canberra for a bipartisan commitment to the current rules governing superannuation.

In the first grass roots lobbying movement of its kind, the Superannuation Professionals Association Australia (SPAA) will begin approaching the almost one million people who invest via a self managed super fund in Australia, asking them to join together in opposition to the changes.

Traditionally, Australians have invested their superannuation in large pooled funds managed either by not-for-profit industry funds, or via tax effective investment vehicles managed by large retail funds managers.

In recent years, an increasing number of people have chosen to take their money out of the large funds to start self-managed funds.

There are now almost 500,000 SMSFs in Australia; the number of net new funds in the segment grew 26 per cent in calendar year 2012 on the back of an 84 per cent growth rate the previous year.

The amount of assets in the SMSF segment now accounts for almost a third of the approximately $1.4 trillion superannuation savings pool.

While the lawyers, accountants and investment advisors that provide advice to the SMSF industry have voiced their opposition to the government changing the rules around super through their various associations and professional bodies, there is currently no united lobbying group representing individual SMSF trustees and fund members.

SPAA’s membership is believed to represent professionals that provide advice to SMSFs that represent a little more than half of segment’s almost $500 billion in assets.

The “call to arms” petition announced by SPAA chief Andrea Slattery at the group’s annual conference in Melbourne will test the influence and reach of the association into the members of the funds.

“A lot of people think that because we are in the SMSF sector we don’t have the ability to rally and to round up all the individuals and all the different sectors into one voice. I believe we can,” Slattery told a receptive room of SPAAA members.

“The SMSF sector represents close to one million members, it’s also very large in relation to the service provision of that sector. This equates to many voters. We do have political clout,” Slattery says.

Shorten cancelled

Treasury outlined in February it costs taxpayers $32 billion to provide the concessions that makes superannuation a tax effective place for people to hold their savings.

Treasury’s expression of the super concessions as a cost, rather than an inducement to save, has been widely interpreted as a signal the Federal Government will find ways to cut some concessions in super in the upcoming May budget.

Bill Shorten, the minister for employment and workplace relations and financial services and superannuation in the Gillard Government was scheduled to speak at the SPAA conference but cancelled at the last minute.

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