The New Daily data breach will not be covered under the current super advertising review and has been considered a separate matter by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), but the prudential regulator is unlikely to take a stance on whether political advertising is appropriate.
Adrian Rees, APRA general manager, said the focus of the advertising review for super would solely be on governance.
“The particular focus will be around what we’ve seen in governance and the process around how trustees have made those expenditure decisions,” Rees said.
“How they’ve considered their legal obligations under [the SIS Act] and also the development and identification of the metrics that determine if those programs were successful.
“We’ll publish information for industry in general terms and if we see particular examples that we think are inappropriate we would consider taking action.”
APRA confirmed that ads from Industry Super Australia and its chair, Greg Combet, were in scope under the review.
Liberal backbencher Andrew Bragg asked if there would be any findings from APRA on if that type of political advertising was considered appropriate.
“[Will it review] political advertising designed to bash a particular political opponent using superannuation money, so I’m wondering if we’re going to get some views from APRA on that,” Bragg said.
Rees said they did not envisage the report would comment on whether the nature of the advertising was political or not.
“If there are particular situations or circumstances that will need further follow-up inquiries or investigation, we would do that,” Rees said.
“The more general question will be around the governance and measurement of those activities.”
Bragg said it was unreasonable to super funds to do direct political advertising, to which Helen Rowell, APRA deputy chair, referred the Senator back to the words of Commission Hayne in the Royal Commission: “Not all advertising is inappropriate and that if there are policy changes that might adversely affect members retirement outcomes, there is an argument they would be consistent with the legislative obligations of trustees”.
The New Daily
Funding to The New Daily had been brought into question again after AustralianSuper had been caught adding its two million members to subscribe to The New Daily.
APRA was consulting with the Privacy Commissioner over the data breach and at this stage there was no timeline on the review.
Bragg asked APRA what its position was over super funds who treated cash in the publication as an expense versus an investment, which was owned by Industry Super Holdings.
Suzanne Smith, APRA executive director – superannuation, said some treated it as marketing expenditure, while others treated it as an investment.
“We’d be looking at what the decision-making process was around any investment made,” Smith said.
“Funds are required to have an investment strategy and whether that investment was appropriate is the focus of what we’ll look at.”
Bragg said it was questionable for money that was collected under a compulsory system to be used in this respect and asked if APRA considered it appropriate.
“If you look at the content on this platform, it’s political propaganda which sits there and smears people, it is not an independent media outlet… so it can’t possibly be a normal investment,” Bragg said.
Smith said APRA was not in a position to judge the content of The New Daily.