Senate debates

Monday, 24 June 2013

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Superannuation, Australian Education Bill 2013, Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Bill 2013

3:10 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (Senator Conroy) to questions without notice asked by Senator Cash, Cormann and Mason today relating to the consideration of legislation in the Senate.

The Gillard government is in complete chaos. They are unravelling before our eyes. There is chaos, dysfunction, division and incompetence everywhere. They have one hand at each other's throats and the other hand with a knife in each other's backs. They are jumping ship, packing up their bags, packing up their offices. They are all over the place. The Gillard government has not just lost its way; it has lost the plot. But guess what? In the middle of all this chaos, in the middle of all this dysfunction, in the middle of all this division and incompetence, there is one thing that will always unite the Australian Labor Party—that is, the bidding for the union movement. When there is the vested interest of the union movement at stake, they will not leave any stone unturned. So it is this week.

I asked Senator Conroy why there was not going to be a proper debate on the Superannuation Legislation Amendment (Service Providers and Other Governance Measures) Bill 2013. The answer is very simple: because the union movement is desperate, absolutely desperate, to see this bill go through without the sensible amendment that was proposed by the coalition in the House of Representatives and that, extraordinarily, was passed by the House of Representatives 72 to 68. It would see at least one-third of directors on union dominated industry super funds be independent directors, to ensure that there is some proper attention and an appropriate diversity of skills, background and perspectives on superannuation boards. But of course the union movement is desperate to prevent that from happening, even though the government's own Cooper review—which was commissioned by former Senator Nick Sherry, who actually cared about good policy in superannuation—recommended that it was absolutely vital to ensure that there was appropriate provision for independent directors on industry super fund boards. But Minister Shorten, at the behest of the union movement, who did not want any interference in his cosy corporate governance arrangements that are currently in place, went out of his way to stop the particular measure from going ahead.

Here we are being asked in the Senate to deal with not one, not two, not three but four superannuation bills in less than an hour. The House of Representatives, which is not usually known to be a very detailed house of review and does not take a lot of time in the final details and the final policy issues behind the specific pieces of legislation, spent 54 minutes dealing with just one set of coalition amendments to improve this legislation. Yet here in the Senate, where we are supposed to be the house of review, where we are supposed to provide proper scrutiny of executive government proposals, we will be lucky if we have half an hour for the four bills, given all of the divisions that are probably going to fall over from before.

This is just an indication of everything that is wrong with the Gillard Labor government. For six months, this bill lingered in the House of Representatives, with the government doing nothing to progress it. Then all of a sudden they put it up and lost a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, which, if there was not so much other incompetence and chaos going on, would probably have been front page news. But in the middle of all the chaos and incompetence under the leadership of our current Prime Minister it is very hard for a lost vote in the House of Representatives to get onto the front page of the newspaper. Here we are today and the government is ramming this through. Things have become so ridiculous that Minister Shorten is now lobbying the Financial Planning Association to lobby me so that I will lobby the government to add something else to the list of latest bills to be guillotined. Why doesn't he talk to his own people? Why is he asking the Financial Planning Association to lobby me so that I will lobby the government on his behalf? This government has completely lost the plot. They are going in 102 different directions. It is time for this farce to come to an end. (Time expired)


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