A key Parliamentary Committee investigating the non-payment of superannuation guarantee contributions was not informed that the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O'Dwyer, had established an inter-departmental working group to investigate the matter.
Public hearings of the Senate Economics Committee have revealed that the chairman and other members of the committee had no knowledge of the "superannuation cross-agency working group" which was established in December and was due to hand its report to the minister today.
The minister's first public reference to the existence of the cross-agency working group came on the same day of the Senate Economics Committee hearings in Melbourne.
The chairman of the Senate Committee, Queensland Labor Senator, Chris Ketter made clear his surprise at the existence of the working group declaring that it "has not been public knowledge up until now".
In doing so, he asked senior Australian Taxation Office (ATO) officials why this was the case, adding: "It seems a bit odd that we are just hearing about this working group today".
ATO deputy commissioner, James O'Halloran replied: "The minister asked us to form a working group, and that is what has happened across those four agencies".
"I do not think it is for the ATO to make any public comment on that working group. It is advice for the minister and, therefore, other than doing what we were asked to, that is what we have proceeded on," he said.
O'Dwyer's belated statement revealing the existence of the working group said it was being chaired by the ATO and comprised senior representatives from The Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
She said it would "identify the drivers of non-compliance, develop ways to improve compliance and policy options to ensure the law remains fit for purpose for Australia's $2 trillion superannuation system".