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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 4967

Mr BALDWIN (1:55 PM) —The speech of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation earlier that the coalition’s opposition to these measures in the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2010 would not deliver the same amount of return to those that are paid from these funds is factually incorrect. The $16 billion that is held by the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme and the $3 billion that is held by the MSBS will be put together to tender for financial administration, with the successful tender looking at where the best investment opportunities are. It will not be the board—whether it be one board or two boards—that will be making individual investment decisions. These investment decisions will be made by the people who, through the application in the tender and proving they are the best qualified, will administer the money.

The minister has said that unless there is this amalgamation, this consolidation, into one board there will be financial disadvantage. That is incorrect, because the money, whether it is $16 billion plus $3 billion or $19 billion as one parcel of money put out to tender, is still the same amount of money. Those returns will be divided back to the appropriate bodies. What we are saying and what we maintain is that there is a uniqueness in military service, which seems to be failed to be recognised by this government. This service needs to be recognised by two separate complete boards. As I said earlier in discussions with the minister, you can consolidate all of the defence boards—the MSBS, the DFRDB and the DFRB into one board—for administration purposes. Remember that the DFRDB and DFRB have no funds. They are unfunded superannuation liabilities. They can be brought together, consolidated, whereby our veteran community and our current serving defence community can have a direct say because they have control of their board. They have control of their affairs.

The minister has alluded to administration costs. We fail to see that there will be any huge increase in administration costs if all of the defence boards are consolidated into one. In fact, there will be a reduction. What the coalition opposes is the idea of it all being put together where defence people lose out—and they will lose out under these arrangements being proposed by the government. This is the government who talks about consultation and yet did not come to see us despite requests to have further discussions on this matter. The government just decided that it would send a note through the night before. The only change to this legislation is that people must consult. Consultation is not a big thing for this government, as we have witnessed. Whether it is the mining supertax or whether it is a whole raft of programs, consultation has not been one of the hallmarks of its governance.

We say to the people and we say to the defence communities that the coalition is standing by you—the coalition recognises your uniqueness of service. Most importantly, we want to make sure that the financial fortunes of those past and present serving members are preserved and preserved in a manner whereby they have a direct input. The minister is quite aware of numbers in boards and politics—that is the nature of the game. Let me put it to you this way: when you have a board that is made up of five public servants, three ACTU members and only two defence people, eight beats two every time. Therefore, to say that defence persons would have a solid representation on this board is wrong. If the minister wanted solid representation on this single board, then why are there not at least three ADF present or past members represented on the board to match the three ACTU members on the board? We cannot support the legislation. We will not oppose the amendments, but we cannot support the legislation in its present form. I said that during my speech in the second reading debate and I maintain that position right now.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour.