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Industry superannuation funds: A new kind of mutual

Mees, B and Paul, A 2017 , 'Industry superannuation funds: A new kind of mutual' , Labour History, vol. 112 , pp. 25-43 , doi: 10.5263/labourhistory.112.0025.

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At the time of the founding of the industry superannuation funds, the Australian retirement savings market was dominated by insurance mutuals. In the early 1980s, less than halfthe workforce was covered by occupational superannuation and unions saw the insurancemutuals, created in the nineteenth century, as part of the problem in this widespread marketfailure. When establishing industry-wide schemes, union leaders largely eschewed thelanguage associated with the “old” mutuals that had become key pillars of the establishedfinancial sector. In framing their appeal to members, the trustees and managers of the industryfunds appealed instead to new expressions, such as “all profit to members.” Industry fundsalso developed a model of 50/50 employer/employee trusteeship or “equal representation”not as an ideological prescription, but as a pragmatic way of dealing with opposition tothe schemes by employers. The trustees and managers of industry superannuation fundscontrasted rather than associated themselves with the “old mutuals” which, at the time,were not seen as reflecting the unions’ ideal of an industrial partnership. However, with thedecline and demutualisation of the largest old insurance mutuals in the 1990s, the industryfunds began to appropriate the language of mutualism. This appropriation took place withinthe context of a perceived need to maintain a collective identity and purpose in the changingsuperannuation marketplace.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Mees, B and Paul, A
Keywords: mutuals, superannuation, industry funds
Journal or Publication Title: Labour History
Publisher: Australian Society for the Study of Labour History
ISSN: 0023-6942
DOI / ID Number: 10.5263/labourhistory.112.0025
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Australian Society for the Study of Labour History

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