Senate debates

Thursday, 17 October 2019


Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No. 2) Bill 2019; Second Reading

1:50 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This Bill contains measures which will assist older Australians, help farmers and tourism operators, improve the efficiency of the Australian Energy Regulator, ensure that consumer privacy remains central to the Consumer Data Right regime and protect retirement savings from erosion.

Schedule 1 to the Bill extends the concessional tax treatment of genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments to those under Age Pension qualifying age.

A key feature of the treatment of these payments is the tax-free component. However, currently a person can only receive the tax-free component if they are aged below 65 years at the time of their termination or retirement from their employer.

The Government is making this change to address the situation where some older Australians who, due to their age, cannot access either the Age Pension or the tax-free component of genuine redundancy or early retirement scheme payments.

These amendments will assist older Australians who receive a genuine redundancy or early retirement scheme payment but are not yet able to receive the Age Pension.

The measure applies to genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments made to individuals on or after 1 July 2019.

Schedule 2 to the Bill provides further luxury car tax relief to those farmers and tourism operators who purchase heavy-duty passenger vehicles as part of their business. The proportion of luxury car tax that can be refunded will be increased, and the maximum amount of the refund will also be increased to $10,000. These changes will apply to eligible vehicles acquired on or after 1 July 2019.

Schedule 3 to the Bill amends the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to expand the Board of the Australian Energy Regulator from three to five members and ensure the expanded Board can operate efficiently.

This measure recognises the scope and complexity of the AER's work have changed significantly over recent years, through the growing number of energy market participants and rules to be enforced, and through its key roles in energy policies such as the Default Market Offer.

Amendments are also made to ensure the validity of future appointments under the Australian Energy Market Agreement.

This measure implements the model agreed by the COAG Energy Council on 26 October 2018. The amendments were agreed by the COAG Energy Council on 23 August 2019.

Schedule 4 to the Bill amends the Consumer Data Right to ensure that consumer privacy remains central to the regime.

It requires that the ACCC activate the power already afforded to them in the original Act to write rules allowing consumers to request that Accredited Data Recipients delete Consumer Data Right data relating to them.

By legislating that the ACCC must include rules relating to the deletion of personal data, we are encouraging longer lasting confidence in the system and helping to ensure that respect for consumer's wishes for how their data is used is a central element of the Consumer Data Right.

Schedule 5 to the Bill improves the lost and unclaimed superannuation regime to enable the Commissioner of Tax to calculate and pay interest on ATO held super they proactively reunite with members' active accounts. This is another step in the Government's agenda to ensure that peoples' hard-earned retirement savings are protected from erosion.

Full details of the measures are contained in the Explanatory Memorandum.

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

The Treasury Laws Amendment (2019 Measures No. 2) Bill 2019 contains a number of technical amendments to the Treasury legislation. Schedule 1 extends the concessional taxation treatment for genuine redundancy and early retirement scheme payments to people who are over 65 years but under pension age. This amendment is necessary because of the change by the government to the pension age. It should have been done some time ago, and further delays will only cause harm to this cohort of Australians. Schedule 2 allows tourism operators and primary producers to receive a full refund of the luxury car tax. This will support businesses who are investing in new vehicles for business purposes.

Schedule 3 expands the board of the Australian Energy Regulator from three to five members. This will allow greater oversight of the AER's work and allow for a greater range of expertise to be represented on the board. Schedule 4 amends the consumer data right legislation passed several weeks ago. Labor insisted that during the debate the consumer data rules set by the ACCC include the right for customers to have their data deleted. This amendment gives effect to that. Schedule 5 fixes a drafting error in the superannuation legislation to allow for regulations to set rates of interest to be paid on lost superannuation accounts held by the ATO. Labor supports this bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.