Independence and the Governance of Superannuation Funds


The Australian government has identified a policy need to increase the independence and improve the governance of superannuation boards. This is also addressed by the Financial System Inquiry in its recommendation #13.


While independence is frequently seen as a panacea for all ills, it is just as often under-theorised and poorly understood. Both the advantages and complexities associated with making independence in the superannuation industry work effectively should be addressed and supported by appropriate structures, processes and expertise.


The study aims to address how board member independence can be used effectively to improve governance structures in publicly offered superannuation funds. Applying a socio–legal approach, and drawing on theoretical and empirical data, the research seeks to address:

1. What is ‘ independence’ in the context of superannuation governance ?
2. What approaches, supports, processes and expertise are required to ensure that independence delivers appropriate benefits, recognising the practical issues in the superannuation arena?

Opinion Pieces

Super governance reforms are defensible – but not the main game for members

Jim Minifie discusses the governance reforms of superannuation.

Superannuation Governance: Is independence enough?
Scott Donald and Suzanne Le Mire analyse how Independence works in the Superannuation system.

Push to water down super’s trustee representative system flawed

Tom Garcia, the CEO of AIST, argues that there is no systemic governance problem in not-for-profit superannuation

Working Papers

CLMR Working Paper Series: Independence in Practice: Superannuation Fund Governance through the Eyes of Fund Directors (16-3)

M Scott Donald and Suzanne Le Mire report on a series of interviews with current superannuation fund directors.

CLMR Working Paper Series: Independence and the Governance of Superannuation Funds (16-1)

M Scott Donald and Suzanne Le Mire reflect on what board member independence might offer the superannuation system.

Government Submissions

Submission to Treasury on Independence of Directors on Superannuation Funds

Originally Published: 
A submission by Dr Scott Donald and Dr Suzanne Le Mire to the Treasury on the independence of superannuation fund boards.
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