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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 9700

Mr ROBB (Goldstein) (21:03): I rise to highlight the inequity in superannuation law which is seeing many proud and highly capable senior workers in my electorate of Goldstein who are discriminated against because of their age. Once a worker turns 70, the employer has the choice of whether or not to pay their superannuation entitlement. When they turn 75, it is against the law for the employer to pay any entitlement. This is a constant source of understandable frustration for people who have so much more to offer but feel they are being ripped off. These are fit and active people, and in many instances they are very successful career people who, well into their 70s and beyond, have so much knowledge and experience to contribute to employers.

In this day and age and with skills shortages guaranteed to grow this situation is ridiculous. These workers should have the same lawful entitlement to fair pay and conditions as someone aged 20, 30, 40, 50 or 69. This is not only a disincentive but also a punishment to keep working. One gentleman in my electorate told me that, where he had worked, age was not an issue. It was never mentioned and never considered. That was the case until the ATO wrote to his employer when he turned 70 to inform the employer that at 70 the employee was no longer eligible for an automatic contribution benefit, that it was a choice for the employer, and that at 75 he would no longer be able to contribute to his super. Suddenly age became an issue. It was mentioned continually and he was without a job within six months. This also amounted to a 10 per cent pay cut on the grounds of age. At a time of low unemployment, people with so much to keep giving should be encouraged to stay in the workforce, but they are being forced out.

The coalition understands that this is plain wrong, and that is why we have committed to abolishing the superannuation guarantee age limit. Under our plan any worker, no matter their age, will be guaranteed to receive superannuation contributions from their employer. We have tried to make this important reform from opposition. The member for Mackellar moved a private member's bill which was voted down by the Gillard government and the likes of the members for New England, Lyne and Denison. I reassure the senior workers of Goldstein that a coalition government will make this happen.

On a separate matter, the current Highett Youth Club building on Livingston Street in Highett was built in the 1960s and, although well-loved, the building is ageing and dilapidated. Last year the Bayside City Council undertook a feasibility study into the construction of a new community facility that would meet the needs of existing tenants as well as complement other facilities on the site such as the community and seniors centre and the children and family services centre. It was proposed to be a great community hub and recreation centre. Bayside council approached me, as did many members of that community, and I was pleased to provide whatever support and urging I could. In particular, a number of people made this vision happen. Plans for the $4 million project were formalised last month, jointly funded through council rates, state and federal government grants and significant contributions from future tenants such as the Highett Youth Club. The new Highett Recreation Centre and Community Hub will incorporate a gymnastics hall, two activity halls, a community workshop and a cafe. Construction is set to commence in June next year. It is a centre which has already done remarkable things for the region. Already there are many hundreds of young people, particularly in gymnastics, who are provided with a wonderful service and opportunity, many of them drawn from all over the south-east.

I conclude with particular thanks to a number of people who have made this project a reality. In particular, I thank Terry O'Brien, who has pursued this like a dog with a bone for many years and who has provided a great source of encouragement and enthusiasm for others involved, Wendy Wroblewski, Rebecca Pyper, Janice Munt and the ward councillors and the council officers of the Bayside City Council. They should all feel very proud of the contribution they have made and of the pleasure, the fulfilment and the satisfaction that many thousands of young people will receive in the many years ahead.