Answers to Member Questions

Answers to Member Questions

What do I need to do?

You do not need to do anything. Your NTGPASS savings account (i.e. your accumulation account) will be transferred to Statewide Superannuation (Statewide) in mid-2019. Your NTGPASS member contributions will be paid to Statewide after that transfer, unless you decide to select a different superannuation fund.

Who is the new fund?

The Superannuation Trustee Board (trustees of NTGPASS) selected Statewide from a pool of high calibre superannuation funds following a competitive process.

Statewide is a South Australian-based industry superannuation fund with a member centre in Adelaide and two staff currently located in the Territory. As part of its selection, Statewide has committed to employing an additional two Territory-based staff to service members directly (bringing their Territory staffing to four employees, two of whom will be associate financial planners).

What is Statewide offering?

Key features of Statewide include:

  • Consistent history of providing strong investment performance
  • Choice of 10 investment options from conservative to high growth
  • Flexible low-cost insurance (life, TPD and income protection)
  • Online tools, calculators, resources and free member seminars
  • Transition-to-retirement and account-based pensions available
  • In-house financial planners and accredited financial advisers in Darwin, Adelaide and regional areas.

What can I do if I do not like Statewide?

Once the initial transfer to Statewide has been completed, you will be able to roll over your superannuation to a different superannuation fund if you don’t want to stay with Statewide. That is, you do not have to keep your superannuation savings with Statewide if you don’t want to.

Will the transfer of my NTGPASS savings account change the age at which I can access my superannuation?

No. You will still be able to access your superannuation once you cease employment with the Northern Territory Government and reach your preservation age, which varies depending on when you were born. Preservation ages are in the table below.

Date of birth Preservation age
Before 1 July 1960 55
1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961 56
1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962 57
1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963 58
1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964 59
From 1 July 1964 60

I am over age 65. What do the changes mean for me?

If you are over age 65, once your NTGPASS savings account is transferred to Statewide, you will be able to withdraw money from that account while remaining employed and still being a member of NTGPASS. That means that you will be able to get access to your NTGPASS contributions, and earnings on them, at the same time as your NTGPASS defined benefit continues to grow.

This option is not currently available to NTGPASS members, who have to leave the NTGPASS scheme altogether before they can access any of their NTGPASS superannuation.

How do NTGPASS investment returns compare to the returns of Statewide?

The table below compares historical investment returns for the NTGPASS Growth option (the default option for NTGPASS members) against the equivalent investment option in Statewide.

 Returns
Fund2013-142014-152015-16 2016 - 17 2017 - 18
NTGPASS Growth 14.04% 10.79% 1.66% 10.63% 8.16%
Statewide MySuper 14.95% 11.48% 5.08% 11.10% 11.34%

In addition to providing higher returns than NTGPASS, Statewide’s investment returns over the last five years were the highest of all the funds who submitted proposals.

How does NTGPASS compare against Statewide after administration fees are deducted?

NTGPASS does not charge any administration fees. Almost all other funds do.

Statewide’s administration fee is $1.50 per week plus an asset based fee of 0.06% per annum, which is incorporated into the above investment returns (i.e. it is not separately deducted from a member’s account). Accordingly, a Statewide member will pay direct administration fees of $78 per annum, irrespective of whether their account balance is $100 000 or $500 000. This means that Statewide’s administration fees have a minimal impact on their investment returns to members.

What are the exit fees for NTGPASS and Statewide?

NTGPASS does not charge members any exit fees to leave the scheme. However, exit fees are charged by most other funds. Statewide’s current exit fee is $50.

Of note is that the Commonwealth Government announced as part of its 2018-19 Budget that exit fees will be abolished for all funds. This change is proposed to commence from 1 July 2019.

Can the Superannuation Office recommend a financial planner?

Unfortunately, no. However, there are many resources available that can help you to plan for your future and help you to select a planner. Below are a few helpful links, however it is not an exhaustive list.

What will happen with my annual statements?

After the transfer, Statewide will provide you with an annual member statement. That statement will show you how much is in your account with them, your contributions paid into their fund, and the amount of your investment earnings.

You will also receive an annual member statement from the Northern Territory Superannuation Office that shows you the value of your NTGPASS and NTSSS benefits each year.

Can I continue to salary sacrifice into superannuation?

Yes, you can continue to salary sacrifice into Statewide, or into a different superannuation fund if you wish.

How are NTGPASS defined benefits calculated?

The formula for calculating NTGPASS defined benefits is: Benefit points *2.5% * Benefit salary * Vesting factor

Benefit points are the total points you have earned in return for making your NTGPASS member contributions. These contributions are between 2 and 6 per cent of your salary. You earn one benefit point each year in return for each one per cent of contribution. For example, if you contribute at 6 per cent you will earn 6 benefit points each year. If you contribute at 6 per cent for 20 years, this will earn you 120 benefit points.

Part time employees accrue benefit points in proportion to the full time equivalent work being undertaken at each Annual Review date. For example, if you work 50 per cent of a full time position and contribute at 6 per cent of your part time salary for a review year, you will accrue 3 benefit points (50 per cent of 6 benefit points). Moving to part time employment will not affect the benefit points already accumulated.

Benefit salary is the average of your last three contribution salaries, after they have been adjusted to current values using Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings. This means that your benefit salary will not be the same as the average of your actual contribution salaries. Your benefit salary may increase or decrease depending on changes to your contribution salaries and on changes to Average Weekly Ordinary Time Earnings.

Vesting factor is a number between 0 and 1 that reflects how long you have been making NTGPASS contributions. The vesting factor is 0 for members who have contributed for less than 5 years, and increases to 1 for members who have contributed for 10 or more years.

Example

Mary is an NTGPASS member who has contributed at the rate of 6 per cent for 20 years. Her benefit salary is $100 000. As Mary has contributed for more than 10 years her vesting factor is 1. That means her NTGPASS defined benefit is:

120 * 2.5% * $100 000 * 1 = $300 000

How are NTSSS defined benefits calculated?

The formula for calculating NTSSS defined benefits is:

3% * Years of eligible service since 1 October 1988 * Final salary

Years of eligible service since 1 October 1988 are the number of years that you have been employed by the Northern Territory Government since 1 October 1988 (when NTSSS commenced). Your eligible service is based on full time employment. Accordingly, working part time has an effect on your eligible service for NTSSS purposes, and reduces the rate at which you accrue eligible service.

For example, if you are working 50 per cent of full time hours, you will accumulate one year of eligible service for every two years of actual employment.

Final salary is your salary and approved allowances on the final day that you are paid (that is, if you are on leave without pay on your last day, your final salary will be the last salary and approved allowances that were actually paid to you). If you are working part time on this day, the full time equivalent salary will be used.

Example

Mary has been an NTSSS member for 20 years and has no periods of part time service. Her final salary is $100 000. That means her NTSSS defined benefit is:

3% * 20 * $100 000 = $60 000

Where can I access my NTGPASS statements?

You can access NTGPASS member information statements, back to 2003-04.

This link only works within the Northern Territory Government computer network. It does not work in external networks, like ntschools.net or the Charles Darwin University network.

Please contact the Northern Territory Superannuation Office on 8901 4200 or 1800 631 630, or via email if you cannot access your statements, so we can provide them to you.

Will Statewide offer me a pension?

Yes. Offering an account based pension is one of the criteria that Statewide met.

When can I start an account based pension?

If you are over age 60 you can start an account based pension once your NTGPASS savings account has transferred Statewide. This is also possible if you transfer your superannuation to another fund that provides an account based pension after the successor fund transfer. You can start an account based pension even if you are working.

Should I delay my retirement until after the successor fund transfer occurs?

This will be a decision for individual members. The Northern Territory Superannuation Office will provide more details of what Statewide is offering to NTGPASS members during 2019. You can then decide whether you want to delay your retirement until after transfer.

You have mentioned that Statewide needs to give NTGPASS members “equivalent rights”. What does this mean?

It is a legal requirement that Statewide confers at least “equivalent rights” in respect of benefits to those currently offered within your NTGPASS savings account. This is not the same as guaranteeing the same investment returns as have been historically received by NTGPASS members or that there will be no change to the fees paid by members.

In terms of equivalent rights, Commonwealth and Territory legislation require that in order for a successor fund transfer of an NTGPASS member’s savings account to occur:

  • before the transfer, the trustees for NTGPASS and of the new fund must agree that the trustee of the new fund will confer on the member equivalent rights to the rights that the member had under NTGPASS in respect of benefits
  • the trustee of the new fund must actually confer equivalent rights to the rights that the member had under NTGPASS in respect of the benefits.

In the two previous successor fund transfers involving NTGPASS accounts (pension in 2015 and former employees in 2016), legal advisors for both NTGPASS and the new funds undertook meticulous and detailed comparisons of the rights in respect of benefits that members had in NTGPASS and the new funds. This was done by examining legislation and scheme documents (such as trust deeds etc). These comparisons confirmed that in moving from NTGPASS to the new funds, the members would have the required equivalent rights.

Conferring equivalent rights in respect of benefits is a legal requirement. If it is not met or cannot be met, then the transfer cannot proceed, and a different fund would need to be chosen.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), which is responsible for regulating and monitoring registrable superannuation entities (RSEs), has published a guide for superannuation funds on the legislative requirement for trustees to confer equivalent rights as part of a transfer. Of note are the following excerpts from that guide:

APRA’s view is that rights can be distinguished from features of an RSE. Features which are determined, and can be changed, at the discretion of an RSE licensee provide no ongoing entitlement to a member, and are therefore not rights. Ultimately, what are features and what are rights will be determinable by an RSE’s governing rules. Generally, features may include the amount of fees that will be charged to a member, product features and particular investment options. (Paragraph 17)

That is, the current NTGPASS fee arrangement is not a right. If the Northern Territory Government decided to pass on to members the full costs of administering NTGPASS accounts this will be in the order of $700 per annum per member. As more members leave, the administration cost per member continues to increase. We expect that the selected fund will have administration fees considerably less than this.

APRA considers that the assessment of "equivalent rights" means that the members’ rights in the receiving RSE are required to be equivalent, but not equal, to their rights in the transferring RSE. Accordingly, APRA expects a transferring RSE licensee and a receiving RSE licensee would undertake the assessment of equivalent rights on a "bundle of rights" basis. In determining which rights are to be bundled and considered together, APRA expects an RSE licensee would give appropriate weighting to significant rights and the materiality of any changes to individual rights. APRA considers that a ‘line by line’ comparison of every right is unlikely to be required. (Paragraph 21)

In determining whether equivalent rights are provided, it is appropriate to weigh up all the rights provided in respect of NTGPASS accumulation accounts against those of other funds. Of particular relevance to NTGPASS members over age 60 is that if their accumulation account is with another fund they will be able to commence an account based pension while still working and while accruing further defined benefits. This is a very significant improvement over what is currently possible, particularly as earnings on the investments supporting those pensions are tax free (at the moment earnings in your NTGPASS account are taxed at the rate of 15 per cent) and because NTGPASS members currently need to leave the scheme altogether if they want to use their accumulation account to fund an account based pension.

In addition, once members reach age 65, they will be able to immediately withdraw money from their accumulation accounts while remaining NTGPASS members (and continuing to accrue their defined benefit). This is not currently an option for NTGPASS members under the existing arrangements. Again, to access any of their superannuation they are currently required to cease NTGPASS membership.

Last updated: 12 December 2018