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Issue 769, 4 August 2020 
In this issue: 

 

COVID-19 Coronavirus: Melbourne lockdown – impact on onsite superannuation operations 

Yesterday the Victorian Government announced new business restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne as part of its Stage 4 response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In essence, workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne must close from 11.59pm Wednesday 5 August unless they are part of a ‘permitted industry’. 

Superannuation funds were explicitly listed (along with insurance) amongst the financial industry sectors that are ‘closed (for onsite work)’. However, this is subject to an exemption allowing workplaces with a COVID safe plan to be open for onsite work relating to “critical banking services to support the provision of services, credit and payment facilities, including the functioning of all operational, treasury, distribution, reporting, communications, monitoring, maintenance, corporate, support and other functions”. 

The definition of ‘banking services’ is set out in an addendum that has not been published online but has been circulated to some financial services providers. This indicates that a lengthy range of ‘banking services’ may continue to operate, including: 

All of the functions listed in the addendum are subject to a caveat that, to “the greatest extent possible, staff providing these functions must be supported to work from home, unless the function cannot be performed without an onsite presence. Any onsite functions must operate under the minimum universal obligations including have a COVID Safe Plan in place.” 

 

 

COVID-19 Coronavirus: early release of super APRA data 

APRA has made its fourteenth weekly publication of industry-level data from its early release initiative data collection. 

The data covers applications made from inception of the early release initiative on 20 April through to 26 July. 

The data shows that, from 20 April to 26 July: 

An ‘initial’ application is the first application made in respect of a member account whether this occurred in the 2019-20 financial year application period or the 2020-21 financial year application period. A ‘repeat application’ is an application for a member account that previously submitted an initial application – all ‘repeat’ applications therefore relate to the 2020-21 financial year application period. 

APRA has also published the thirteenth tranche of fund-level statistics from its early release data collection, revealing the number and value of the payments processed by each fund, as well as the time taken to make payments. 

 

 

COVID-19 Coronavirus: validity of electronic signatures and meetings 

The Government has announced an extension of temporary relief measures designed to provide certainty to businesses about how they can meet certain obligations under the Corporations Act 2001 during the pandemic. 

In ASFA Action issue 754 we reported that the Government had made the Corporations (Coronavirus Economic Response) Determination (No. 1) 2020 to: 

The relief was intended to apply until 6 November. 

The Government has now announced that it will extend the relief for a further six months, to expire on 21 March 2021. The legislative instrument necessary to give effect to this extension has not yet been registered. 

While these relief measures are not specific to superannuation, they will be relevant to the way in which superannuation trustee companies manage their general obligations under the Corporations Act. 

 

 

ATO SuperMatch service: new terms and conditions 

The ATO has substantially updated the terms and conditions and user guide for SuperMatch, which is a service that provides information to help funds consolidate accounts for their members 

In ASFA Action issue 756 we reported that the ATO and APRA had jointly written to superannuation trustees regarding the suspension of SuperMatch. This was as a result of concerns that “potentially fraudulent online account creation” was occurring within some funds. The joint message noted that the ATO, APRA, ASIC and AUSTRAC would engage with industry to discuss and develop “options for how fund access to SuperMatch can be re-established based on improved online account creation controls across the industry”. 

The ATO has now updated the terms and conditions and user guide for SuperMatch and has reportedly written to all trustees to provide copies of these documents. The ATO has also issued CRT Alert 040/2020, which explains the changes as follows: 

The ATO has also provided further clarity around ensuring only trustees access SuperMatch and are accountable for any use of the service by their administrator/service provider on their behalf. 

According to CRT Alert 040/2020, the ATO’s letter to trustees also provided further information about how funds can engage the ATO to establish connection to SuperMatch. The key points for this process are as follows: 

 

 

Internal dispute resolution: legislative instrument 

In ASFA Action issue 768, we reported that ASIC had released its new standards for internal dispute resolution (IDR) for financial firms including superannuation trustees, in the form of new Regulatory Guide RG 271 Internal dispute resolution. The new IDR standards will apply to complaints received on or after 5 October 2021. 

ASIC has now registered the ASIC Corporations, Credit and Superannuation (Internal Dispute Resolution) Instrument 2020/98. 

The Instrument sets out new standards and requirements that ASIC has made and approved for the IDR procedures of financial firms These standards and requirements are clearly marked within RG 271 as ‘enforceable paragraphs’. RG 271 also highlights some additional requirements—not mentioned in the Instrument—that reflect existing legal requirements and are also enforceable. Aspects of RG 271 that are not highlighted as enforceable or set out in the Instrument are to be considered guidance. 

The Instrument also: 

As with RG 271, the Instrument applies in relation to complaints received on or after 5 October 2021. 

 

 

ASFA REGULATORY WATCHLIST

ASFA’s Regulatory Watchlist (ARW) tracks developments in Legislation, inquiries, consultations

and other regulatory announcements relevant to superannuation.

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