Thursday, 24 March 2011
Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Amendment (Fair Indexation) Bill 2010
I foreshadow an amendment to add ‘and the bill, together with the amendments circulated by Senator Ronaldson on sheet 7027, be referred to the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 10 May 2011’. This is something that I have foreshadowed with my colleagues in the opposition. I understand that they will be opposing it, and I respect their right to do so, but I think that, for such an important piece of legislation which has significant fiscal impacts, the responsible thing to do is to refer this bill to the Finance and Public Administration Committee for appropriate inquiry, so that all aspects of the bill, including the fiscal impacts, can be explored—but I can say that I am very sympathetic to the matters raised in the bill. I want to see a practical, sensible way forward for the matters raised in this bill to be dealt with, but I think the best way to do that is to have this matter go before a committee—that is what we do in the Senate. I think that the question of scrutiny—a teasing out of the provisions of the bill and any unintended consequences—ought to go to a committee. Therefore, I will move this at the end of the second reading stage, and I urge my colleagues in the government and on the cross benches to support such a measure. In the absence of such a measure I cannot in good conscience support this bill without that process being dealt with. It is a process that can be dealt with quite expeditiously in the next six weeks. I would have preferred this to have been done some weeks ago. Notwithstanding that, now is the time to deal with this bill with the respect and the process it deserves.