Thursday, 20 August 2015
Australian Defence Force Superannuation Bill 2015, Australian Defence Force Cover Bill 2015, Defence Legislation Amendment (Superannuation and ADF Cover) Bill 2015; Second Reading
I rise to express Labor's strong support for these Australian Defence Force bills. These bills will ensure a fair, appropriate and viable superannuation scheme for our Defence forces. It is incumbent upon all of us to be constantly on the lookout to ensure that the employment conditions of the Australian Defence Force are in line with the changing requirements and life paths of its members. This includes finding ways to encourage and maintain participation of women in our Defence Force; it means recognising that members of the Australian Defence Force may want to move in and out of the ADF as well as across the different job streams within the ADF and facilitating that; and it means allowing for permanent part-time work to reflect different needs at different stages of life.
These three bills before us introduce important and necessary reforms for the modernisation of the ADF workforce. The proposed superannuation scheme, known as ADF Super, brings about important changes. It will ensure the long-term viability of the superannuation scheme for our Defence forces while also ensuring they are appropriately provided for in retirement. Under the new scheme for the first time ADF members will be able to transfer their super scheme to new employment when they leave the ADF. The new scheme will make it possible for ADF members to move in and out of service without incurring costs and encountering a lack of flexibility with respect to their superannuation. This means, for example, that employer contributions can be carried across to new employment, which is not possible under the old scheme. The new scheme will bring ADF superannuation into line with the rest of the government sector by replacing the existing defined benefit scheme with its attendant long-term liabilities and ensuring that the ADF superannuation scheme is viable over the long term.
Senators would be aware that Labor opposed the two-tier system the government originally proposed. As with all defence and national security matters, Labor believes strongly in a bipartisan approach. Labor welcomes the changes to the original proposals made by the government. In particular I would like to express Labor's appreciation to the Assistant Minister for Defence for his cooperative approach on this matter.
Labor strongly supports the proposed employer contribution rate of 16.4 per cent, which is higher than the general public sector rate. This higher rate reflects the unique nature of military service, including the unique possibility of being involved in combat operations, the hazardous training and exercising that ADF members must engage in as part of their core duties, the long and irregular working hours, that statutory retiring ages are well below community norms, the requirements for high standards of physical fitness, the frequent relocation of personnel and their families as well as long periods of separation from family.
Crucially, these changes will provide encouragement of and support for women's participation in the Australian Defence Force. The changes will also accommodate those ADF members who might wish to engage in other work but then return to the ADF. It is for these reasons that Labor strongly supports this package of bills.
I thank senators for their contribution on this important series of bills that support the establishment of a new accumulation superannuation scheme and associated death and invalidity benefits for members of the Australian Defence Force. I commend the bills to the Senate.
Question agreed to.
Bills read a second time.