The major parties voted down a motion calling for the removal of same-sex discrimination in private superannuation funds.
While Labor senators were praising their party’s equality reform removing discrimination against same-sex couples in Commonwealth superannuation schemes, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young raised the omission of private funds.
If it’s good enough to include the public super contributions, it’s good enough to include the private as well, Hanson-Young told Sydney Star Observer after raising the issue during the Senate superannuation equality inquiry.
In voting against the motion, Labor senator Joe Ludwig said many superannuation funds already recognise same-sex relationships and, without major actuarial planning, forcing the remainder of private funds to do the same could put their viability at risk.
Requiring a private defined benefit fund to expand the class of potential beneficiaries may have financial implications for the funds as there may not be sufficient money in the fund to meet the new expected liability for the benefit. Additional cost would include increased employer contributions, insurance costs and increased administration costs, Ludwig told Parliament.
Where a superannuation fund does not recognise same-sex relationships or provide binding death benefit nominations, individ-uals are able to move their accumulation benefits from one fund to another one that does, under portability arrangements.
A recent survey of superannuation funds found there were a considerable number of funds that did recognise same-sex relationships. Results suggest that most, if not all, not-for-profit super funds are able to pay death benefits to same-sex partners and about half the funds have done this.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon voted in favour of the Greens’ motion, while Family First senator Steve Fielding joined with the major parties in opposing it.