Sales of indigenous art have been hit hard by the unforeseen effects of new super fund rules passed in 2011. "In one word, the impact has been devastating," says Claude Ullin, the proprietor of Aboriginal art gallery High on Art in Melbourne’s Armadale. "It’s the very thing the government didn’t want to happen." Under the stricter rules, artworks bought by Australia’s 420,000 self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) cannot be displayed by trustees or anyone related to them in their homes or offices. Instead, they must be properly insured, independently valued and stored off the premises, out of sight. This applies not only to artworks but also to other "personal use" collectibles such as jewellery, antiques, coins and rare books. Graeme Collins, of superannuation advisers CBS Financial, says the new rules are fair: "The sole purpose of superannuation is to provide for retirement benefits. Getting a personal benefit from an artwork now, before you retire, by enjoying seeing it hanging on your lounge room wall, breaks that sole purpose test."
The new rules were triggered by the Cooper Review of 2010 and came into effect on July 1, 2011, under then-minister for financial services and superannuation Bill Shorten.