Skip to content | ComSuper home
ComSuper | Commissioner for Superannuation 2010-11 Annual Report

Commissioner for Superannuation
2010-11 Annual Report


Section 4: Appendices

In this section:

Appendix D: Freedom of Information and privacy

From 1 May 2011, agencies subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and replaces the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. ComSuper's agency plan showing information published in accordance with the IPS requirements is accessible from

The following information addresses various statement requirements under section 8, prior to its amendment, in respect of ComSuper functions, consultative processes, document categories and information access arrangements for the period 1 July 2010 to 31 April 2011.

Functions and decision-making powers of ComSuper

Up to 30 June 2011, ComSuper's CEO was also the Commissioner for Superannuation and held decision-making powers for ComSuper's internal administration.

In 1994, the Commissioner's decision-making powers were transferred to what was then the Commonwealth Superannuation Board of Trustees (later merged with the PSS Board of Trustees to form ARIA). This change took effect from July 1994. However, the Commissioner retains powers for all decisions taken before 1 July 1994 relating to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme.

Sections 17 and 17A of the Superannuation Act 1976 (1976 Act) contain the Commissioner's decision-making powers. Section 25 of the 1976 Act contains the Commissioner's authority to delegate their powers. ARIA's decision-making powers are set out in sections 27C and 27D of the 1976 Act. The authority for ARIA to delegate its powers and functions for the CSS is set out in section 27Q of that Act.

ARIA's decision-making powers with regards to the PSS and the PSSap are set out in clause 3 of the PSS and PSSap Trust Deeds. The authority for ARIA to delegate its powers and functions is set out in section 15. ARIA retains full responsibility for fund investment.

The decision-making powers of the MSB Board are set out in clause 3 of the MSB Trust Deed. The authority for the MSB Board to delegate its powers and functions is contained in clause 12 of the MBS Trust Deed.

The DFRDB Authority's power to administer the provisions of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948 and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973 is set out in section 8 of the DFRDB Act. The power of the Authority to delegate its powers and functions is set out in section 15 of that Act. The general application of those powers is summarised in this report, while the details are published in the 2010–11 DFRDB Authority Annual Report to Parliament.

From 1 July 2011, the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Act 2011 established the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC) as the new single trustee body for the main Commonwealth civilian and military superannuation schemes through the merger of ARIA, the MSB Board and the DFRDB Authority. The office of Commissioner for Superannuation was also replaced by the new statutory office of Chief Executive Officer of ComSuper as part of the broader legislative package.

Categories of documents

ComSuper maintains hard copy and electronic file records about scheme members, beneficiaries and their associates. We record aggregate member details on various databases. We do not store any documents on a register that we charge the public a fee to access. The FOI Act regulates access fees in these cases.

We provide annual reports, fact sheets, and other publications describing the schemes, both in print and online. These are available to the public free of charge on request through scheme websites. The public can also access statistical tables relating to each of the schemes administered, scheme information books, product disclosure statements and forms for members and employers.

Facilities for access

Facilities for viewing member or corporate documents are provided at our office in Canberra.

Copies can be obtained by sending us a written request. We may decide to charge a fee for this service. Information about facilities for access by people with a disability can be obtained by contacting the FOI Unit at the address and telephone numbers shown below.

We also have arrangements in place to refer representations about policy matters to the appropriate body. Requests for consultation and representations relating to policy aspects of the CSS, PSS, and PSSap schemes and their underlying legislation are referred to the Superannuation Branch of the Department of Finance and Deregulation. This branch advises the Minister for Finance and Deregulation on these matters.

Policy matters relating to the MilitarySuper and DFRDB schemes are referred to the Directorate of Superannuation at the Department of Defence, which advises the Minister for Defence Personnel on these matters.

FOI access procedures and initial contact for enquiries

ComSuper has a dedicated FOI unit to deal with all requests for member documents. When we receive a valid FOI request, we verify compliance with the application fee provisions of the FOI Act and register and acknowledge the request. Members are not charged a fee for access to their personal documentation. Decisions to grant access, levy charges, or refuse access are made by a delegated officer. Requests for internal review of FOI decisions are forwarded to the appropriate section where they are investigated before being submitted to the Commissioner for Superannuation to be decided under section 54 of the FOI Act.
All decisions on internal reviews are made by either the Commissioner for Superannuation or the Trustee Boards.

Requests for documentation concerning the internal administration of ComSuper are directed to the Corporate FOI Officer for consideration. Decisions on internal review are made by the Commissioner for Superannuation or the Chief Governance Officer.

Enquiries concerning access to documents or other matters relating to FOI should be directed to the FOI Unit as follows:

FOI Unit
GPO Box 2252
Canberra ACT 2601

Telephone: (02) 6272 9080
Facsimile: (02) 6272 9804
TTY: (02) 6272 9827

Performance of the FOI Unit

A total of 198 requests for access to documents were received during the year. Of these, 181 requests were granted in full and six were partially granted. Eight requests were refused, no requests were transferred to other agencies, and three requests were withdrawn.

Reforms to the FOI Act were introduced during 2010-11 and fundamentally changed the way information held by government agencies is managed and accessed by members of the public. The object of the reform is to promote disclosure of information held by a government agency, the reforms commenced on 1 November 2010.

ComSuper implemented arrangements to accord with these reforms and has followed the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Act 2010 and guidelines provided by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

In the time since the introduction of the reforms, ComSuper had not seen an increase in requests under FOI.

Release of information under the Privacy Act

ComSuper ensures that the personal information we collect and store is correct and secure. We have two privacy officers, one who focuses on APS and military scheme matters and the other deals with matters falling outside the schemes. Both areas work closely together to ensure that members' privacy is respected and that information security is not compromised.


All requests for disclosure of personal information outside of the FOI Act's provisions are dealt with under the Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) set out in section 14 of the Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act).

The Privacy Act permits disclosure of personal information to third parties in certain circumstances. During 2010–11, we made permitted disclosures of biannual CPI-adjusted pension entitlements for all scheme members to the Department of Veterans' Affairs and Centrelink. These disclosures were part of our standard operating processes.

There were 31 requests for information relating to scheme matters which needed more detailed consideration. In 16 cases, we released information in accordance with IPP11 (1)(b) where the individual concerned consented to the disclosure. In 13 cases, we released the information in accordance with IPP 11(1)(d), as the disclosure was required or authorised by or under law. In two other cases, information was released in accordance with IPP (11)(1)(e) on the ground of enforcement of criminal law or the protection of public revenue.

There were no requests for information relating to non-scheme matters.


There were 83 privacy incidents recorded during 2010–11. Of these incidents, 53 involved APS schemes and 30 involved military schemes.

The majority of privacy incidents related to misdirected correspondence or insufficient points of identification being obtained before information or advice was released to the person. However, in the majority of these incidents we ascertained that the information was not accessed by a third party.

Developing good privacy practice

We constantly review our information collection practices, storage and access arrangements to ensure compliance with the Privacy Act. Internal forms used to collect information are also reviewed to ensure that they comply with the Privacy Act.


In 2010–11 we provided mandatory privacy awareness training to all staff, which included an explanation of the Privacy Act. As part of ComSuper's induction training program, new staff receive information on privacy matters, while other subject specific courses include privacy modules where required. Information on the Privacy Act is available to ComSuper staff via our Intranet.


Last updated May 31, 2012