Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020; Second Reading
The Liberals are undertaking a double-barrelled attack on superannuation in Australia. Firstly, they're encouraging Australians to raid their superannuation savings, to raid their retirement savings, and take that money out, and we've seen evidence of people doing that in circumstances where they haven't had reductions in their income. Unfortunately, the evidence has indicated that in some respects the money's being wasted. We know people are spending it on gambling. We know people are spending it on alcohol. The comeback from those opposite is: 'It's their money.' It is their money, but it was established to ensure that they had dignity in retirement, not to waste on gambling during their working years. And that's the problem with what this government's implemented when it comes to the early release scheme.
The second barrel of the attack on superannuation is that it appears government backbenchers are being encouraged by members of the executive to say that the government shouldn't meet the commitment they delivered to the Australian people prior to last election—an iron-clad promise they made to increase the minimum contribution to superannuation from 9½ per cent to 12 per cent. This represents a breach of trust with the Australian people. They committed to that superannuation increase and now they're beginning the process of moving away from it and dumping it. Those opposite will say: 'It should go into wages. During a pandemic, during this period, it should go into people's wages so that they can save for their own home and the like.' As we've seen in the past, the problem with that philosophy is that, when you stall or you cut out increases in compulsory superannuation, the money doesn't go into people's wages at all. It goes into the pockets of businesses and into profits for big companies. That's where the money goes—it doesn't go to increasing the incomes of Australian workers. That's why the government are wrong about what we anticipate they're going to do in the coming months in again halting increases in superannuation savings. It's true to form for this government, and that is why the second reading amendment moved by the member for Whitlam should be agreed to. Every single government MP should come into this chamber and explain to the Australian people, who elected them, why they're going to break the commitment they made to them prior to the last election to increase compulsory superannuation so that Australian workers could have dignity in retirement.
In terms of the substantive bill, the Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020, Labor will be supporting this element of the bill. We're supporting it because it's a sensible amendment. The bill allows former Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan members to use their PSSap accounts for contributions in respect of any employment, including employment that does not attract a superannuation guarantee obligation. If they wish to make other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions, it means that, if they get a job outside of the public sector, they can still contribute to their public sector account. Current PSSap members can use their PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers that they're working for at the same time. The Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme and Public Sector Superannuation members can establish a PSSap account for contribution from non-Commonwealth employers they are working for at the same time.
The CSS and PSS members who cease being members and become pensioners, in the superannuation sense, or take a lump sum benefit to establish a PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers or from other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions, can also use their PSSap account for that. CSS deferred benefit or PSS preserved benefit members can establish a PSSap account for contributions from non-Commonwealth employers or for other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions. Around 10,000 individuals would be able to utilise these new arrangements, with most of them being former PSSap members using their existing accounts for future super contributions. These are sensible changes to a legislative framework which allows for the continued use of PSSap accounts as well as for members of the old defined benefit scheme who want to use their PSSap account system.
Whilst these are sensible amendments, I again go back to the comments that I made earlier, and those are to encourage the government to abandon this disastrous proposal that we all know is coming. They're laying the groundwork for it now. First, you get a few from the backbench start to make noise about it, and then you get the odd minister. Now the minister's saying she's agnostic about it. The Prime Minister's saying, 'I'll wait until the review comes down'—the review of the retirement income system that was handed to the government a month ago and that they won't release to the Australian public. The groundwork is being laid for this government to walk away from its commitment to the Australian people to increase compulsory superannuation contributions to ensure that people do have dignity in retirement and that, through that important tax concession that exists around superannuation savings, Australian workers get the support from the Australian government that they deserve for the contribution that they've made to our economy over their whole working lives. Increasing compulsory superannuation contributions, in line with actuarial advice, will ensure that people have a reasonable income to retire on, particularly low-paid workers and women. I urge those opposite to support this amendment moved by the member for Whitlam and come into this chamber and be frank and upfront with the Australian people. Tell your constituents what you are going to do with this particular proposal to stop the increase to compulsory superannuation in Australia.
I am pleased to speak on the Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020. As the previous speaker, the member for Kingsford Smith, has indicated, we will support this bill. It is a modest bill, but it contains a sensible measure that we will support. As previous speakers have indicated, this bill contains an amendment that will allow for greater flexibility in relation to the Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan. In particular, it will allow for greater flexibility in relation to when people can contribute to accounts within that scheme. For that reason, we will support this bill. It is our understanding that it will benefit around 10,000 people and give them greater flexibility to contribute either after they have finished working for the Commonwealth or while they are working for the Commonwealth and having contributions made through concurrent employment.
Of course, the really substantive discussion that we are engaged in today is not in relation to this bill itself, which I suspect all in this chamber will support, but in relation to the very important second reading amendment put forward by the member for Whitlam, the shadow Assistant Treasurer. This is a very important second reading amendment because, as earlier speakers have indicated, it puts members of the government to the test. Will they support this amendment and affirm the commitment, or promise, they made to the Australian people at the last election? It's very important that we discuss that promise and why it is so important that that promise be kept. That promise, made by those opposite, was that they would increase the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 per cent to 12 per cent on the schedule, as legislated. It is critical that the government do so, because it fundamentally underpins the way in which our society is preparing to support the retirement incomes of generations to come.
It's instructive to go back to 1991, when Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, John Kerin and other members of the Hawke government spoke in such visionary ways in support of the extension of the superannuation guarantee. As the shadow Assistant Treasurer and the member for Kingsford Smith have already indicated, this was done to provide people with dignity in retirement, with income security and with greater income in retirement. In particular, it was done to provide people with dignity in retirement in the face of a demographic challenge that has, if anything, increased as a threat to retirement incomes in the intervening years. It is absolutely critical that we support the superannuation pillar of our retirement system.
Indeed, if we go back to the early 1990s, when Australia passed that visionary piece of legislation, it is instructive to look at what the rest of the world did while looking on. In 1993 the World Bank published a seminal piece of analysis of retirement income support systems, and that is where it set up the multi-pillar system. In particular, it recommended a system in which there would be a taxpayer funded retirement pension system supported by a mandated savings account system supported by voluntary savings. It was these three pillars that would support retirement incomes in the optimal way, and the World Bank and policymakers around the world have not changed their view in the 30 years since that time. In 1993, when the World Bank set up that system, it was basically describing the Australian system, the Hawke-Keating system that has proved so successful in the intervening years.
The member for Goldstein in his contribution said that there were some private accounts before the 1991 reforms. The issue is not whether there were some mandated superannuation accounts before those reforms but who had access to them—and, of course, it was a small minority. When you look at who didn't have access to them, it was people on low incomes, people in insecure work, people who were the very rationale for the entire scheme—and they remain the rationale for the entire scheme. Indeed, if one looks at the situation today, those people were the beneficiaries of the scheme in the early 1990s because they were brought within the umbrella of the superannuation guarantee, and today it is those workers who get 9.5 per cent when many professionals are given the tax benefit of superannuation payments well above 9.5 per cent. As many speakers on our side have already indicated, people in this chamber who argue that workers in the community should be limited to 9.5 per cent are themselves receiving far more than that. So, in the intervening period, when our society continues to age, the need to increase the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 to 12 per cent has never been more urgent.
One only need look at the taxation outcomes in a whole range of OECD countries to see the predicament that Australia faces in decades to come. At the moment, the tax as a share of GDP required to support our pension payments is a little bit under five per cent of GDP. But if one looks at countries in the OECD with far older populations—countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Japan—many of these countries have tax-to-GDP ratios to support their public pension systems of over 10 per cent of GDP, and some more than 15 per cent—and in many of those countries those percentages are increasing. What we see in those countries is what Australia will face in years to come if we don't plan for the future, which is precisely what the superannuation system does. If we, in a short-sighted attempt to play ideological games, hold the superannuation guarantee at 9.5 per cent, we will be committing ourselves to a future which will require a far greater tax burden on future generations to pay the pension payments that retirees deserve. The words that justified the introduction of the superannuation guarantee in 1991 still hold true today—and in fact hold true to an even greater extent, given the demographic changes that we still see unfolding.
Those opposite claim that this is some kind of simple trade-off with wages, and that workers would in fact be better off if they forwent the increase from 9.5 to 12 per cent. Firstly, there's the lived experience of the last few years, when earlier administrations within this Liberal government held back superannuation guarantee increases. During that period we've seen the lowest period of wages growth on record. Workers in this country know from their experience that if this government goes back on its promise at the last election and holds the superannuation guarantee at 9.5 per cent, they will get no wage increase as a result of that. They understand all too well that the simplistic trade-off offered by those opposite will not result in greater wages.
Moreover, it's ironic that those opposite argue that the superannuation guarantee should be held at 9.5 per cent so as to boost wages while at every turn trying to weaken the bargaining power of unions and trying to undermine their capacity to fight for higher wages. It's a very disingenuous argument. Workers in this country know all too well, from the last seven years of this government, what wages growth they can expect from a government that is trying to reduce the superannuation guarantee not to increase their wages but to undermine a public policy initiative that it never supported and has voted against and tried to undermine ever since.
As the previous speaker indicated, this is not just an attack that we're seeing build up on the opposite side first from backbenchers, then from ambiguous statements by ministers and the Prime Minister and then, presumably, from a government response at some point during the budget or shortly thereafter. This is not just an attack on the increase in the superannuation guarantee. We've now seen two waves of early release, which is yet another means by which the superannuation system and our entire pension system are being undermined. What we've seen is the release of over $31 billion through the early-release scheme that this government put in place in response to the COVID pandemic. Let's be absolutely clear what this reflects: this reflects the government all too often forcing those on low incomes to self-fund what should have been a government funded response to a recession. The superannuation system was never meant to be a business-cycle funding mechanism. It was never meant to be a means by which the government could short-change its own fiscal response to economic downturns by forcing people to dip into their retirement savings. That is what this government has done, in this instance, on two occasions now, and there is every prospect that we haven't seen the end of it. There is $31 billion that should have been provided by this government that has been withdrawn from super.
Let's think about the 600,000 people who have now entirely cleared out their superannuation accounts, who have zero balances—many of them young people under 35 who now won't get the benefit of a lifetime of interest earned on those dollars. Those people have a right to ask why they had to withdraw their own money to achieve worthwhile ends, it might be said. 'Why did we have to withdraw our own money to make ends meet, to put food on the table, to make the mortgage payments, when it's the government's job to support us during economic downturns?' It's extremely short sighted and simplistic to say, 'It's their money,' when, in fact, what the government is doing is forcing people to withdraw money from their superannuation accounts at a time when that is not in their interests. This three-word slogan 'it's their money' is papering over the situation, and it is putting many, many people at a great disadvantage in the decades to come. It fundamentally undermines the entire purpose of a savings account system in order to support retirement incomes.
So we will fight any further extensions of the early release scheme that we've seen to date. And, as the shadow Assistant Treasurer has indicated—and he has put the government to the test with this second reading amendment—we will push the government to hold true to its promise at the last election that it would increase the superannuation guarantee from 9.5 to 12 per cent. This is a promise that the government made at the last election and this is a legislated schedule of increases in the superannuation guarantee which the opposition remains firmly committed to, because it is absolutely essential in order to maintain the integrity of our retirement income system. If one goes back to the very origins of the superannuation system, to the increase in the scope of the superannuation guarantee from the few who were benefiting from it in the early 1990s to the many—the vast majority—who benefit from it today, the rationale for that scheme is stronger than ever.
It is crucial that this House vote up the second reading amendment so that the Australian public can move forward knowing that this parliament remains committed to the long-term integrity of our retirement income system. So we will support this bill, but it is absolutely critical to also support the second reading amendment to this bill and support the superannuation system that is so critical to the long-term future of this country.
I rise to speak on the Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020. I'm going to address my remarks to the second reading amendment which has been moved, calling on the government to commit to making no cuts to the legislated superannuation guarantee for workers. People should be under no illusion about what this government is up to with superannuation. It is laying the groundwork, politically tilling the soil, for trashing Australia's superannuation system and for the Prime Minister to break the promise that he made before the election that superannuation would continue to increase in line with the legislated increases—that next year it would go up by half a per cent and so on, as per the schedule. In practice, what it means if the Prime Minister breaks his promise is that he will cut the pay of millions of working Australians and condemn people to a poorer retirement, because the fact is that a cut to super is a cut to pay. Super is part of your pay in Australia. Those opposite can't make this false little distinction between wages and super. Superannuation in this country is part of a worker's pay and it is incumbent on Labor to stand up for everyday Australians and defend the superannuation system that Labor built.
Australians should be proud of our super system. It's something we're rightly proud of. Superannuation is part of the pay of Australian workers now. It's no longer a privilege, as it once was, just for the elite. It's a right for everyone now, for every worker. Super provides a more dignified retirement for Australians. It makes the Australian economy stronger as well. We now have in this country a $2.8 trillion—that's right—savings pool to invest in jobs and growth, and everyday Australians own more of the country and more of our wealth.
The fact is, without superannuation, the system that Labor built, Australia's debt and budget deficit would be vastly higher, and in the coming years our AAA credit rating would be at risk—well, it's already at risk under this government. The fact is it would be lost if we had not provided as a country, as the Labor government in the 1980s did, for our pensions with an ageing population.
But the political contrast is that the battlelines are drawn on behalf of Australians. They're very clear. Labor created super. We defend the system. We're champions of increases in workers' pay through these legislated increases that were legislated under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government. But let's be clear on the record of the government, of those opposite, of the Liberal Party. They have opposed every single cent that has ever gone into workers' superannuation in this country. Every time legislation has come before this parliament in 40 years the Liberal Party have opposed it. They oppose superannuation. The only indication of support, in fact, has been the promise that the Prime Minister made before the last election that he wouldn't cut superannuation rises. That's the only indication we've ever heard from the Liberal Party that they have even the tiniest level of support for super, and they're about to break it.
The Liberals' plan to cut superannuation and to run the system down will leave working people behind, and they're using COVID now disgracefully as a cover, as an excuse, to destroy super and pursue their decades-long ideological obsession with cutting workers' pay and condemning Australians to a poorer retirement. The fact is—and they said this for five years when the current Prime Minister was the Treasurer and before that the social services minister—they wanted to increase the retirement age for Australians, the pension age, to 70. They wanted everyday Australians to work until they were 70, and now they want to cut their super.
Last week, they froze the age pension. Astoundingly, they froze the age pension for the first time in 23 years. And in the budget they will try and cut super and try and cut people's pay. It's ironic, isn't it—the party of debt and deficit. The first three years I was in this parliament we couldn't get up in a question time without having this mob rant at us like lunatics about debt and deficit disaster. It's funny now: we haven't heard anything of that, have we? We haven't heard about debt and deficit from this Prime Minister now he's overseeing the largest budget deficit this country has ever seen and the first recession for 30 years. Haven't heard much about that—it's not in your talking points, is it, Mr Blue Suit?
Trashing super is economic vandalism. It is the biggest intergenerational rip-off this country has ever seen. What they're really saying by cutting superannuation and not providing for the retirement of Australians is: 'Don't worry, we'll put it on the bill. We'll run up the debt. We'll run up the deficit. Our grandkids can pay for our retirement.'
The numbers are instructive—and we've heard this before—but one of the key rationales for introducing superannuation in the 1980s, the universal scheme, was our ageing population. In the mid-1980s we had about six workers for every retiree. Now it's about four workers for every retiree, and the projections are that within 15 years there'll be three workers for every retiree. Although with the cuts to migration the truth is, on the projections, that day is going to come sooner. We've smoothed the curve, but we haven't changed the trend.
Labor in the 1980s planned for 50 years ahead. Politicians get accused of not planning for the future. Superannuation was one of the generational reforms in this country that provided for workers to have a decent retirement and provided fiscal security for the country. Make no mistake: COVID for the Liberals is just cover for their same ideological wars and their attacks on super, wages, corporate tax, industrial relations, privatisation—we'll see it all in the budget, with a little healthy dose of rent seeking.
The scale of the superannuation system is enormous now, and I think Australians might not always appreciate what has been built over the decades. We have 15 million Australians with superannuation accounts. Sixty per cent of all Australians now have a super account. Eighty per cent of Australians between the age of 25 and 54 in that key working age bracket have a super account. We have $2.8 trillion in assets, and that is projected to grow to $10 trillion by 2040. It's now equal to 140 per cent of our national GDP. They are big numbers. So what do they mean?
Firstly, it means more money and financial independence for retirees. Super is now the first- or second-largest asset that most Australians have. The average balance at the moment is about $270,000 for men and about $157,000 for women. It means most Australians can retire with their pension or part-pension and some superannuation. It's a better standard of living in retirement. And people are living longer. It's not yet enough for most Australians to replace the pension but if we stick with Labor's plan to legislate over the decade to increase it to 12 per cent, it will move in that direction. The median balance will be higher—about $300,000 for women and $600,000 for men. Of course, it also reduces the exposure of Australian households to financial shocks by diversifying their assets.
Just a little aside on the gender gap: you can see from those figures that there is still a huge gender gap in the level of superannuation that men and women will retire with. But the Liberals' plan to cut superannuation will make things even worse for women. Right now, 40 per cent of older single retired women live in abject poverty in this country. They are one of the fastest-growing groups of homeless—single retired women. They are people pushed out of their work—maybe in their 50s. They are people retiring after a divorce or a catastrophe of some form, in their 60s, with no superannuation. A cut to super is a cut to wages that will hit women especially hard.
One of the economically worst aspects of the government's handling of the COVID recession—and it goes to the second reading amendment—is the government allowing people to raid their retirement savings. Instead of providing support to those who need it, in the last few months the government has let over 560,000 Australians withdraw every last cent of their retirement savings. There is literally nothing left in their retirement savings. It might not sound like a lot but, for a 25-year-old, taking $10,000 out now means $233,000 in lost interest by the time they retire. It's enormous.
It's the biggest generational rip-off in Australia's history and it's also the privatisation of stimulus. The work that the government should have been doing on behalf of the community and all taxpayers has been outsourced to the lowest-income—poorest—people in society.
An opposition member interjecting—
I know: socialising the losses caused by the economy in a much cheaper and more economically effective way. What a surprise from this mob! In the last few months alone, Australians have withdrawn $32 billion from their super accounts. As I said, 560,000 Australians now have not one cent left in their superannuation account. Even the government admits that, by the end of the year, at least $42 billion will be gone, with upper estimates in the order of $50 billion.
But the real disgrace is that the largest single source of economic stimulus that the government has injected into the economy is from superannuation. They have privatised the stimulus. That's taking privatisation to a new level—even for this mob! It's bad enough to outsource Centrelink. It's bad enough to outsource the NDIA, with 7,000 casual temporary workers there. It's bad enough that the tax office is run by labour hire staff. Now they have privatised their stimulus! Australians have spent more from their super on getting through this crisis than the government has provided in any single line item in their so-called response. They've spent more from low-income workers' super accounts than they have on JobKeeper or the JobSeeker supplement or any other element of their response—let alone the lax administration of the scheme by the government, with the fraud and the scams. Nutty government backbenchers have been running around on Sky News telling everyone: 'This is free money. Go and have a crack, have a withdrawal. Just get it out. It's free money!' It's irresponsible.
I'm not blaming the individuals, but we have seen that a significant percentage of people who have got the money out haven't told the truth or haven't filled out the form properly—because they've listened to these nutters on the TV. The fact is that that has now exposed people who have misused the scheme to severe fines and penalties—$12½ thousand—and potentially a whacking big tax bill in the middle of the pandemic. And compounding it—this is a gold-medal award in the Olympics of policy stupidity—is the impact on every other Australian, the 14½ million Australians who still have at least a dollar in their super account, by getting these people to withdraw their money at the bottom of the market. It has a compounding effect on the problems and on the value of the assets. It is the worst possible time in the economic cycle for these economic geniuses opposite to let people withdraw from their retirement savings.
The final couple of points I'll make in this time are about the two great big lies that the snake oil salesmen opposite stand up and tell you. The first is about wages. Somehow they're saying, 'When the Liberals cut superannuation, don't worry.' It's a con trick. 'Then workers'll get higher wages.' Work that out: 'If we cut superannuation, you'll get higher wages—nothing to worry about,' which is absolute rubbish. Superannuation is part of your wages. It's part of your pay in this country. Cutting super is cutting your wage. Wages, of course, are stagnant under the Liberals. We've had record low wage rises for years under this government. Stagnant wages didn't just come in when the Prime Minister became prime minister after knifing the last one; they came in seven years ago. For many workers, next year's 0.5 per cent legislated superannuation rise is the only wage rise they're going to see under this government. Even if the Liberals got away with their plan to cancel the 0.5 per cent rise, there's no guarantee, of course, that it'll go to take-home pay. In fact, it's highly unlikely, in Prime Minister Morrison's recession, that for most people it will go anywhere near their pay packet. It'll get swallowed by the employer.
The second big con trick that the government is trying to pull on the Australian people is that somehow this is going to be a choice between having a dignified retirement by having your super wage rise—of 0.5 per cent, mind—and owning a house. They're pretending that somehow it'd be good for homeownership if we let everyone withdraw their super and buy a house. What a con trick! Not only is it effectively trashing the retirement income system but it'd push up house prices. Imagine pouring that much cash into people's pockets to go and bid up house prices and leave average Australians poorer in retirement. That'd be a runner for the gold medal in the stupid policy Olympics when they enter next year, no doubt.
The national wealth from the superannuation system that Labor built is stupendous. It boosts our national savings. It's enormously beneficial for the economy. That $2.8 trillion pool of savings helps grow the economy and invest in projects in Australia and overseas. The fact is that Australian workers now own more of the wealth that our country produces. It's a wonderful thing. That huge pool of capital that our nation has at its disposal is owned by all Australians, not multinationals or wealthy corporates. Superannuation funds now reduce Australia's reliance on foreign sources of finance. Anyone concerned about foreign investment should be very aware of the role that superannuation plays in creating an investment pool here and overseas. Since 2013, finally, Australians have owned more equity overseas than foreigners have owned in Australia, and that's because of superannuation, because we have this $2.8 trillion pool of national savings that we can take and invest in assets, infrastructure, agriculture and other productive things not just in Australia but also in other countries and projects overseas. That's a wonderful thing, because it means that we get profits from those investments overseas that come back and make Australians wealthier.
There's a lot more to be said, and I know my colleagues will talk more. There's another superannuation bill, and we'll be back here for more. But let there be no mistake for Australians: Labor will always defend the superannuation system that provides for a decent, dignified retirement for Australians, makes them wealthier and also boosts our national economy. The Prime Minister's plan to break his promise and cut superannuation and wages will be opposed by this side of the House.
Firstly, I'd like to thank all members who have contributed to this debate. The Superannuation Amendment (PSSAP Membership) Bill 2020 extends membership of the Public Sector Superannuation accumulation plan to certain current and former Commonwealth employees who are not otherwise eligible to continue making contributions to a fund run by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. The bill will ensure that the choice-of-fund principle extends appropriately to Commonwealth public sector schemes. It allows current and former PSSap members to avoid paying multiple fees to maintain separate funds under different trustees. This bill will support them in saving for their retirement.
The bill allows former PSSap contributory members to use their existing PSSap accounts in respect of any employment, like self-employment, and not just employment that attracts a superannuation guarantee obligation. To make their other contributions, such as non-concessional contributions, PSSap contributing members will also be able to make contributions to their account in respect of any non-Commonwealth employment that they undertake concurrent with their Commonwealth employment—for instance, where they work part-time for the government and part-time for a private employer.
The bill also allows certain members of the main Australian government civilian defined benefits superannuation schemes, the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme and the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme, who currently are contributing or preserved benefit members, to establish PSSap accounts where they choose to also have future superannuation contributions held by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation. The reforms contained in this bill are consistent with the government's broader superannuation objectives to lower the cost that members incur for the administration and management of their superannuation accounts.
The opposition has moved a second reading amendment related to the super guarantee rate and the age pension, neither of which is affected by the current bill. The opposition have low credibility on retirement issues, given their continued commitment to a $57 billion retiree tax that would hit almost one million Australians' self-managed super funds and some larger super funds. This is still Labor policy.
On the age pension, I note that, since the coalition was elected in 2013, pensions have increased by $135.90 a fortnight for singles and $204.80 a fortnight for couples combined—and, to help manage the impact of the coronavirus, pensioners have received two $750 economic support payments. We also reduced social security deeming rates in May.
To return to the bill before us, I note that it relates to specific Commonwealth public sector super schemes and not to general superannuation law. The bill, in short, facilitates the continuity of superannuation arrangements as workers move in and out of Commonwealth employment as they pursue diverse careers. These are sensible modernising reforms. I commend the bill to the House.
The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable the member for Whitlam has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.