Public Policy – A Year in Review
It’s been an eventful year, with the Actuaries Institute (Institute) involved in a wide range of important public policy issues.
The Institute submitted a total of 30 submissions across superannuation, life insurance, risk management and general insurance practice areas. Incredibly, over 100 Institute members (through practice committees and working groups) were involved in the development of policy positions and formulation of submissions – a great reflection of the interest actuaries have in public policy.
Many interested members attended our inaugural Public Policy Forum on 3 November 2014. The program featured two key speakers Tony Cole AO and Professor Rodney Maddock, who have both contributed to public policy development over many decades. Institute members, Michael Rice, Christine Brownfield and Sophie Dyson also presented on emerging developments in the fields of retirement incomes, home equity release and health insurance.
FINANCIAL SYSTEM INQUIRY
Only arising every 16 years, the Financial System Inquiry (FSI) was an important focus in 2014, with two of our members, Geoff Atkins and Brad Parry, working within the FSI Secretariat. The Institute’s views were put forward directly to the FSI panel and secretariat on a number of occasions and our submissions to the initial and interim FSI reports were well referenced throughout the mainstream press. We had some positive results with some of our key proposals included in the final FSI recommendations. The Institute was referenced a number of times in the final report and it was mentioned we convened a special working group that assisted the FSI secretariat on retirement incomes.
HEALTH GREEN PAPER
The Institute released a Green Paper entitled Who will Fund our Health? in December 2014. The paper explores why health care expenditure is increasing, the impact of future population ageing and what it means for future generations; and how we can tackle the funding challenges. The Institute argued that without a rigorous and comprehensive policy effort, Australia will face a series of major public policy problems in the funding of health care; the working population may be paying almost double their own health expenditure to subsidise older Australians. We expect the paper will encourage community debate on health care policy framework revision.
OTHER INTERESTING ISSUES IN 2014
Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse – we provided advice to the Commission on the redress scheme design and formed a working group to assist actuaries with reserving considerations.
Productivity Commission Inquiry into National Disaster Funding Arrangements – a submission was presented and Institute representatives attended Commission hearings.
Role of the Life Appointed Actuary in current life insurance issues – a taskforce was formed to report to the Public Policy Council Committee (PPCC) and Council regarding life insurance concerns.
An online discussion forum to determine whether the Institute should have a policy position on climate change and if so, what form it would take.
Two significant submissions were made to Treasury – ‘Review of Retirement Income Stream Regulation’ and ‘Better Regulation and Governance, Enhanced Transparency and Improved Competition in Superannuation’.
An information note to members and a media release was issued on Federal Budget night lock up in Canberra in May 2014.
SO WHAT’S AHEAD IN 2015?
Continuing on from the success of the Institute’s ‘Australia’s Longevity Tsunami’ White Paper, the Institute has commissioned a Retirement Incomes White Paper which will assess by various cohorts (income/ generation) whether the retirement income system is effective now and will continue to be in the future. The paper is intended to spark public discussion and guide retirement income policymakers.
The PPCC (with new Convenor Michael Rice) is also keen to develop a public policy framework that more clearly articulates the Institute’s public policy intent, principles and areas of focus for the coming years.
We are also keen to build on the first Public Policy Forum by hosting further events in 2015. Continuing and emerging projects in the new year include a review of the FSI final report (including the Government’s response), Treasury’s 2015 Intergenerational Report, Federal Government’s Tax White Paper, the 2015 Federal Budget and the Royal Commission’s proposed redress scheme.
Thanks again to all the members who got involved in 2014, in particular outgoing PPCC Convenor Estelle Pearson, PPCC members and Practice Committee Convenors. We look forward to your involvement in 2015 as the Institute continues to provide insights and advice to business and government in important areas of public policy.
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