Tuesday, 25 August 2020
Treasury Laws Amendment (Your Superannuation, Your Choice) Bill 2019; In Committee
The government opposes this amendment. The amendment as outlined by Senator McAllister proposes to insert the superannuation guarantee into the National Employment Standards, which would mean, yes, workers would be able to pursue their employers through the Fair Work Commission on super issues in addition to the existing regulatory oversight by the ATO. The amendment that's proposed is identical to an amendment related to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Recovering Unpaid Superannuation) Bill 2019 that was defeated in this chamber on 24 February this year. As I advised the chamber at that time, on 24 February, I have committed to the crossbenchers that Treasury will examine this proposal in good faith and will brief the crossbench on the outcomes of that examination. That work is currently underway, and I am more than happy to offer any crossbench senators a briefing if they wish. As agreed to in my discussions with Senator Patrick, and also as followed up with the shadow Assistant Treasurer, the time frame for that work has been extended by six months to February next year, 2020-21. The reason for that is that the relevant Treasury resources were redeployed to work on the coronavirus response.
The amendment, though, contains a number of very complex issues that require some quite careful examination and aren't appropriate to be debated on the floor of the chamber today. They include things like the potential duplication by the Fair Work Commission of the regulatory work that is already undertaken by the ATO. This would create considerable uncertainty both for small businesses and for individuals, with small-business owners potentially facing duplicate penalties and with the presence of multiple regulators potentially causing confusion for workers and employees. That is why a proper examination of this policy and its consequences is required, and that examination is what I have instructed Treasury to undertake.