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Tuesday, 23 June 1998
Page: 5183


Mr TUCKEY (8:40 PM) —I just wonder who the opposition and the member for Wills (Mr Kelvin Thomson) are putting a case for. They say it is in the interests of the worker but, of course, we are suddenly told there was a dispute over superannuation between Woolworth's and the storemen and packers—the union, I expect.

We have had an impassioned plea on behalf of those whose earnings are less than $450 a month. I was in this place when Labor brought in the superannuation guarantee charge and said that it would not apply to people who earned less than $450 a month. Coming back to who gets the money, the worker or the fund—and more likely, in the interests of the opposition, the union fund—we can do a simple calculation. Most of the charges addressed to the management of superannuation are flat fees. So we are having an argument put up about what people who would have $3 a week of superannuation paid under an award, sent off at great expense to the employer and to the employee, would get back. It is $40 or $50 a quarter to manage the fund; then there is the 15 per cent contributions tax, which Labor introduced at the time of the superannuation guarantee charge—the up-front tax. How much does the opposition expect will be left for the worker? It is highly profitable, of course, for those who are getting well paid to manage union superannuation funds.

This whole opposition proposal in terms of award simplification is about protecting the rights of trade union bureaucrats. If they have not got all these extraneous matters to deal with, their members start asking them, `What are you here for? My superannuation is now covered by the superannuation guarantee charge; I understand that. I know the interest that the tax man takes in that.' The powers available to the tax man are draconian. Employers who fail to pay on time are charged double. And they say they need a dispute settling procedure! We are going to have another place where a few lawyers and others line up to debate something and, more importantly, give great opportunities for the trade union movement bureaucrats to keep their jobs. What is better than an award to justify your existence and your very substantial payroll. One does not have to ask too many questions as to how John Coombs got his winery if he was not well remunerated—


Mr Miles —A winery?


Mr TUCKEY —Yes, John Coombs's winery—he grows chardonnay grapes—is in one of the most salubrious areas of rural New South Wales. I guess it is probably $2,000 an acre country. The realities are that these people have fought desperately to protect the jobs of trade unionists, and the more detail they can get into an award the better.

The fundamentals of this issue are that the Labor Party, having discovered the deficiencies of award superannuation and brought in the superannuation guarantee, is now trying to fight to protect the interests of the union bureaucrat who just has another reason for existence when in fact all matters relative to superannuation are now covered in another bill introduced by the Labor Party which now wants to convince us that it is worthless, that there has to be some other proposition available for certain people.

If the Labor Party thought it was so important when they brought in the SGC to have some superannuation paid on behalf of those earning less than $450 a month, why didn't they put that back in the SGC argument? Why didn't they do it then? Why did they leave one group of people on three per cent when the others were going to 12 per cent? There is no logic in their argument. Part of it is their policy to oppose everything because they might win a vote, even one, and the other part of it is that they know their trade union bosses want them to protect their privileged position. I have just demonstrated what they are doing for workers. Workers get nothing out of it—nothing whatsoever. This is the remarkable part about it. It is the same with so many other aspects. (Time expired)