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‘Clear conflict of interest’: Superannuation boss demands scrutiny of Tim Wilson’s use of economics committee

The head of the nation’s biggest superannuation lobby group has asked Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to scrutinise House Economics Committee chair Tim Wilson, warning he is using the role for personal political campaigning purposes and risks undermining confidence.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean sent Mr Frydenberg a letter on Wednesday requesting the Treasurer “consider the appropriateness” of Mr Wilson’s handling of an ongoing review into the banks and financial institutions.

Industry Super Australia says Tim Wilson is using his role as chair of the House Economics Committee for personal political campaigning purposes.

Industry Super Australia says Tim Wilson is using his role as chair of the House Economics Committee for personal political campaigning purposes.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The letter was sent after the sector received a series of written questions from the chair about the housing market, the value of property investment assets held by individual funds and the proportion of members who are homeowners. Mr Wilson recently launched a new campaign, “Home First Super Second”, in a bid to allow first-home buyers to access their retirement funds early to get onto the property ladder. The idea has the backing of a group of Coalition MPs but is opposed by Labor, the super funds and the unions who warn it would undermine the super system.

“Recently, Mr Wilson put about a dozen written questions to funds directly relevant to the issues associated with his personal campaign but under the original Terms of Reference,” Mr Dean said in the letter seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“The questions appear designed to leverage funds’ openness to engage with the committee … but are clearly intended for personal use by Mr Wilson in support of his ongoing political campaigns,” he said.

“The chair has also used information derived from this Parliamentary Committee on a political website established to support his pet personal political campaign … this creates a clear conflict of interest and undermines the committee’s work.”

Mr Dean said the recent line of questioning was “concerning” and “appear to abuse the committee process and risk undermining confidence in its ongoing work”.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean.

Industry Super Australia chief executive Bernie Dean.

He asked Mr Frydenberg to “consider the appropriateness of the committee being used in this way to further a personal political campaign” and added the funds willingly engaged but often at significant expense and opportunity cost.

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