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

3:15 pm

Photo of Alex GallacherAlex Gallacher (SA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

The Labor government makes no apology for having a full legislative agenda. To be fair and give credit to the opposition, they should not be shy about taking credit for delaying the legislative agenda of the Labor government. There is always a star on the other side, and that is probably Senator Macdonald. In the short time that I have been in this 43rd parliament, I have noticed that Senator Macdonald has never missed an opportunity to filibuster, amend, procrastinate, report and waste the time—in my considered view—of the Senate. That is his job. He is in opposition. He does not like being in opposition, but that is his job. He is there very diligently working away and taking every opportunity of wasting a second or a minute. He probably has a blackboard in his room that he uses to work out how much he has wasted every day. That is, as I said, their job.

We have a limited sitting period and a full legislative agenda. Taking a cursory glance at the number of bills that have passed through the 43rd parliament, there have been a very large number of them. I read the other day that 87 per cent of them were passed with consensus. But as we get down to the end of the legislative cycle—the end of the opportunity to pass legislation—we notice an increase in the activity of the opposition as they try to use up all of the available time. And that is their job; make no mistake, they are stars at it. Then, when the government, faced with not completing its right task, implements, with the Greens, the guillotine, all hell breaks loose.

I would like to talk a little bit about the superannuation industry. I am not sure that Senator Cormann is on the mark there, despite the fact that you opposed the introduction of superannuation—which, let us be fair, was a wage rise deferred—and you opposed industry super funds all the way until they became a trillion-dollar part of our economy. They were instrumental during the GFC in bankrolling our banks. There has been substantial change in the composition of boards. The unions did have the numbers in the old days—I was around in those days. There were five union directors and four employer directors. It has been legislated that they must have an even number of employer representatives and union representatives, with an independent chair. These things are working.

But Senator Cormann wants to go further. He wants to further disenfranchise the voice of workers in their own superannuation funds by adding another level of supervision, another level of cost. The guts of it is that all trustee directors act in the interest of members only. Adding another three independent directors at the sorts of salaries that they command means that that cost has to be spread among the members of that super fund. There is no shortage of independent and professional advice in industry super funds. I was a super fund trustee for 16 years. I chaired the investment committee. We were able to get every bit of independent advice that we needed with no problem whatsoever.

Senator Cormann interjecting—

No, Senator Cormann, that is not true. If every boss was elected by his workers in the same way that we were then he would be allowed to sit on the board of a super fund. Industry super funds are delivering year in, year out very good returns, including this year. With proper governance, proper due diligence, proper access to independent advice, independent chairs, diligent employer representatives and diligent union representatives, no aspersions can be cast. There has been no failure in industry super. The trustees have represented the members and delivered for working people in Australia year in and year out. We want that to continue. MySuper is one of those things that will make industry super funds better and enable them to deliver better returns for working Australians. (Time expired)


No comments