Australian Super

July 4th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One News reports:

 Thousands of New Zealanders with retirement savings stuck in face an even longer wait to bring their money back home. 

The Australian Government is yet to pass legislation allowing Kiwis who have worked across the ditch to access money saved under their compulsory superannuation scheme in New Zealand.

This is despite the New Zealand and Australian government signing a reciprocal superannuation agreement three years ago.

Returned ex-pat David Buckingham has been fighting politicians from both sides of the Tasman to access his superannuation funds. 

He said his funds are being eaten up by fees and wants to see the money put toward supporting his young family. 

“I’ve got a lot of super sitting in Australia and I worked hard over there and 9% of my income went into these funds,” he said. 

The Australian Superannuation scheme has been compulsory for the last 20 years, meaning any New Zealander who has worked there since the early 1990s is likely eligible for a pay-out.  

More than $16 billion of retirement savings are locked up in so-called lost super accounts in Australia, and a fair chunk of it belongs to Kiwis.

Finance Minister Bill English remains confident the Australian Government will pass the legislation next year, nearly four years after New Zealand passed similar legislation.

“There’s a lot of Kiwis who have actually got quite large superannuation balance and their ability to bring them back to New Zealand might make it more likely they will come back,” he said.

Ever since the Paul Keating days, I’ve never entirely trusted Australian Governments. Hopefully they will legislate as promised, but the delay is suspicious.

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26 Responses to “Australian Super”

  1. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    ‘Ever since the Paul Keating days, I’ve never entirely trusted Australian Governments.’
    You are well on form today DPF. IN the good old days of Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke, Australian politicans were so much more trustworthy!

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  2. anonymouse (708 comments) says:

    Hmm, yes the Australians are dragging the chain on this ( I suspect the Australian Fund Management industry are making sure this takes as long as possible) ,but there are a couple of contradictory remarks in the quotes from Mr Buckingham

    “He said his funds are being eaten up by fees” “I’ve got a lot of super sitting in Australia” he said.

    I guess it all depends on what the definition of “a lot of super” is

    The returns on that money should still mean the overall balance is increasing, fees don’t tend to lower the value of an investment unless it is small <10K etc?, or the scheme provider is really creaming it.

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  3. redeye (638 comments) says:

    If you’re self employed in Australia you can set up a self managed fund to pay into.

    Then when returning to the homeland you just write yourself a cheque. Not entirely legal but who’s going to chase you?

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  4. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    i think this Buckingham guy will be disappointed in his desire to “to see the money put toward supporting his young family.”

    everything i have read about this for when it eventually happens will be that you are required to transfer the funds to a similar locked scheme in NZ, ie KiwiSaver.

    just like the QROPS scheme in the UK (though thats going through turmoil due to UK govt changes recently).

    I have a large list of clients looking forward to this so we can bring their money back to their KiwiSavers, which for some of them will significantly boost their house deposit withdrawal funds (assuming the rules around first home withdrawal do not change).

    BTW what is with this increasing emotional crap we get now when someone is pushing for something. the fact that he has a family (young or old) is irrelevant, the only thing that is relevant is that its the right thing to do for someone who has permanently emigrated from a country. should i care more becuase he thinks he will get the cash for his ‘young’ family. is his situation more important than the single person with money locked in OZ?

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  5. wreck1080 (3,820 comments) says:

    This is what could happen to kiwisaver— whats to stop the government from simply confiscating the funds of savers? As the aussie government appears to be doing.

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  6. Grendel (972 comments) says:

    the ozzie govt is not confiscating the funds. they are just currently not letting you transfer them out before retirement age when you emigrate (at least to NZ, not sure about other countries).

    as it stands, when you are eligible for the funds in OZ, you can still withdraw them as normal and do with them what you will. however becuase you cannot contribute (i beleive) when you are not in OZ, people want the option of transferring to a NZ fund they are contributing to regularly. NZ has passed this, but for some reason OZ is dragging the chain.

    NZ Kiwisaver funds are in private companys hands, held in trust for their members. its a brave govt that decides to pass legislation allowing it to reach into a private account and take money from it.

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  7. Lucia Maria (2,239 comments) says:

    It helps to thing of the money in Oz as something I’ll never see again. I don’t even look at how much is left anymore.

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  8. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Really? His super is being eaten by fee’s? What kind of a dumbarse company does he have his super invested with?

    The Interest mine makes has been a more than the fees I get charged even through the economic downturn – how can his be loosing money?

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  9. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    The returns on that money should still mean the overall balance is increasing, fees don’t tend to lower the value of an investment unless it is small <10K etc?, or the scheme provider is really creaming it.

    You obviously have no experience with the Aussie Super industry. I’ve had money in compulsory super since I moved here in 2007. When I saw the first prospectus for a retail fund that shall remain nameless, I looked at their “aggressive” super fund, I saw the 10% return they made in the 2006 tax year and thought “beauty!”. As a recent immigrant I didn’t realise that the ASX200 fund had netted 15% – so their financial “professionals” playing with the share distributions actually cost investors 1/3 of the return of the index fund. Being that I wasn’t entirely stupid, I put some money into a balanced fund and a cash fund also.
    Since I joined the scheme, they lost money every year except for 2010, when they made me about $200. They charge $1 per week in admin and each “fund” charges a percentage of your total regardless of whether they make money. That $200 has been well eaten. The only reason why my balance grew is because I was required to make contributions.

    Fast forward to this year, I set up a SMSF and transferred my balance to it in February. I’ve got the money on term deposit in the bank. It’s returning just over 5%, and my only expense is the yearly audit which will cost about $400 (in other words, less than the retail super fund lost last year). I’m ahead. Your average balanced portfolio retail fund made 0.5% (before fees of course) this year which is disgusting – I made more than that with money in the bank in less than six months. Including the audit cost. Even then the money would be better spent paying down my mortgage, since the interest of the mortgage is higher than term deposit (obviously) and the return is not taxed (even the modest 15% tax on super fund profits still makes a painful bite).

    And for those who want to know, it is my understanding that the Australian government will require New Zealanders to either stay with the Australian fund or to transfer to a Kiwisaver fund and will require that money to be tied up until retirement. Australians obviously have to keep theirs in Australia if they emigrate. Only if you’re a citizen of any other country and you tell them that you are moving from Australia and New Zealand permanently can you get a cheque.

    PS sorry for the novel.

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  10. fruitshop (45 comments) says:

    Say an expat Kiwi worked 35 years in Australia paying into their compulsory pension fund and contributing to their economy.

    Then they return to NZ to retire.
    Under the reciprocal agreement, they are eligible for full NZ Super – but their Aust pension is deducted from NZ Super.

    If returning ex pat Kiwi cashed it in before retirement age, NZ taxpayer would fund the full NZ Super.
    It’s more complex than it first appears because NZ Super is 100% universal and other countries have a compulsory contributory system.

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  11. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    It’s not going to matter for me anyway. By the time I’m eligible for super all the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers will have cleared out the piggy bank and I’ll be relying on my own savings.

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  12. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,820 comments) says:

    Labour will Nationalise all private Kiwisaver accounts anyway, Argentina style. All people with Kiwisaver accounts are doing are paying more tax “voluntarily”. New Zealand is bust.

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  13. Cunningham (829 comments) says:

    It’s fucking disgraceful behaviour by the Australian government. Allowing kiwis to bring back THEIR funds would be a big boost for NZ as it will encourage alot of people to come back while also bringing in alot of extra money. Can’t say I am surprised. Australian governments don’t really give a shit about this country when push comes to shove despite their rhetoric.

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  14. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    What makes you think that Kiwisaver is going to be a better investment than the Australian funds?

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  15. capitald (72 comments) says:

    Anonymouse (10:19am):

    The way that Australian Super works is a little different to Kiwisaver. In New Zealand, your Kiwisaver contributions are collected by the Inland Revenue Department by way of the payroll returns by your employer. In Australia, your contributions are paid by your employer directly into the super fund. Each time you change jobs, you either provide the account details of your preferred super fund, or you are automatically enrolled in that employers default scheme. Most people who have worked in Australia have a very large number of super funds – and most need to “consolidate” their super.

    This is the situation that I am in – I have a few – some have high balances, which are moving forward, others have very little in them, which is why they are going backwards. About eighteen months ago I looked into consolidating these funds. In order to do this I need to get the sign-off from a licensed Australian Super advisor, or a list of other people who would be required to sign the transfer forms….. all of these people are Australian, unless I approach someone from the Embassy, at a decent cost to sign them….. I’m more than happy to get this together, the only reason that I held off was because local Kiwisaver providers were telling me that the trans-tasman super transfer program should be sorted relatively quickly.

    Most of the interview I actually spent time focusing on the treaty between New Zealand and Australia, what I had done to approach the Australian politicians and how I believe that there are hundreds of millions of dollars in super funds that would be better coming into the New Zealand economy to create jobs.

    I would much have preferred to have these comments focused on. What you need to understand is the medium, television is about pictures. Finance stories have very few pictures. Television stories also need to be built around a “real person” – which in order to push this issue in front of 750,000 people, I was happy to do. This is the trade-off that you make when you are trying to put an issue into the media. If I were to be sitting in the editing suite, I would be using the other comments I made – this is a news item, not video produced by a PR department.

    Grendel (10:22am):

    At no time did I say to TVNZ that I saw the money going to my young family. The money goes directly into Kiwisaver should it be transferred here. I communicated this very clearly to the journalist. Not a lack of understanding on my part sorry.

    Your money is your money, you are correct, it doesn’t matter if you are married or single.

    Beven (11:11am):

    See my explanation above.

    Cunningham: (2:05pm):

    There is every possibility that Australian Funds Managers have put some pressure on the Australian Government, that is why I have put the effort into convincing TVNZ to run a story on the matter, and why I encouraged David Farrar to blog about it.

    David Buckingham

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  16. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    capitald – Your super fund managers are having you on. You can use this form to transfer it, with no requirement to get somebody else to sign it. The only catch is that some providers will charge you $40 to do this but under the Superannuation Act they can’t stop you from doing that. They’ll probably charge you the same or more to transfer to a Kiwisaver account when the legislation passes.

    There is a really good section about super on the ATO website if you need further information.

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  17. capitald (72 comments) says:

    Gazzmaniac (3:46pm):

    Champion! Thanks for this! I’ll sort this out when I get a chance shortly.

    David

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  18. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    Don’t mention it. Compulsory Super is the biggest rort out there and I’m happy to help out.

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  19. anonymouse (708 comments) says:

    @Capitald, thanks for clearing that up,

    It certainly does look like your article got sub-edited to hell by some numb-nuts editor who had no knowledge of the actual subject matter,

    Makes you wonder how they expect to actually inform anyone, when they end up with such a disjointed item…..

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  20. capitald (72 comments) says:

    Thanks Anonymouse, appreciate that. I’m happy to simply get the matter out there on the agenda :-)

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  21. Bevan (3,965 comments) says:

    Gazzmaniac (3:46pm):

    Champion! Thanks for this! I’ll sort this out when I get a chance shortly.

    David

    How long have you been back in NZ? I can’t remember when the legislation came in that allowed for easier super transfers – albeit between Australian providers…

    Good luck getting this sorted.

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  22. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    It’s been this way for a while. They still charge you $40 to write a cheque.
    I live in Queensland by the way.

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  23. Daigotsu (451 comments) says:

    I trusted John Howard… he was an honest man…

    There have been none since then

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  24. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    I don’t trust any of them. They’re all dishonest, but some are more dishonest than others.

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  25. capitald (72 comments) says:

    Bevan (4:44pm):

    I came back in December of 2009.

    The treaty between New Zealand and Australia was signed on 16 July 2009.

    You can view the agreement by visiting this page:
    http://taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/publications/2009-other-nz-australia-retirement-savings-portability-agreement/overview

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  26. Viking2 (11,284 comments) says:

    DPF says.
    Ever since the Paul Keating days, I’ve never entirely trusted Australian Governments. Hopefully they will legislate as promised, but the delay is suspicious.

    So DPF why just the Aussies. What about the Yanks? Why would you trust them?

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