First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the continuing financial difficulties being faced by many retired members.
The Federal Government’s progress in addressing our claim has been slower than desired. I note in passing that in its recent Budget, despite some scaling back, the Federal Government retained generous tax concessions for wealthy superannuants.
If the Government changes that affect our retired members are not addressed, more than 1200 retired UCA ministers – who are already living on modest incomes - or their surviving spouses face continued losses in income of as much as $10,000 a year.
The Assembly will continue to advance this issue with Departmental officers and will actively raise it in the course of the 2016 Federal Election campaign.
It is fundamentally unjust for our retired members, after a lifetime of service, to be retrospectively punished for their choice of scheme.
Since our last update, the coordinator of the Uniting Church response Mr Bruce Binnie has been working with our superannuation provider Mercer and the Fund Actuary to advance our claims on behalf of Fund members.
In particular we are seeking to have the tax treatment for Fund members changed so that more than the legislated limit of 10% is allowed as a deduction in the assessment process for aged pensions. This was the understanding when members were contributing, and was a key factor in their retirement planning.
On 3 March Mr Binnie met withSocial Services Minister Christian Porter. At that meeting the Minister undertook to arrange for the Department of Social Services (DSS) to review the Trust Deed and Rules of the Beneficiary Fund to confirm our claim.
The DSS has since formally requested and been provided with information about the Beneficiary Fund including individual case studies which demonstrate our claim.
Conversations with Departmental staff are progressing but no resolution is likely until a new Government is formed after the Federal Election in July.
In the meanwhile please be assured that we will continue to progress your claim.
Assembly General Secretary