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Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Page: 4680


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:08): It is very surprising and disappointing that Senator Johnston would use this take note debate to attack a minister and to attack people for having no responsibility and no respect for people who served our country. There has never been a debate in this place that that was the point. There has been a debate in this place about the appropriateness of how you actually look at DFRDB pensions and it has been quite serious and over a long period of time. As people on both sides of this chamber know, the issue of changing the way DFRDB pensions are assessed is not a new issue. We could go back over the extensive debates in this area, through periods of the Howard government through to the Rudd and the Gillard governments, and there have been disagreements. Recently, a very strong debate was conducted in this place that ended up with a decision that we would change the process. That was very difficult and people were deeply affected by the process.

Senator Johnston was quoting again from the piece of paper that they have about what the Rudd process was before the 2007 election. Again, in the very words read out by Senator Johnston, there was an agreement for a 'fresh approach'. There was an agreement that the issues would be considered and indeed they were. As Minister Carr reflected in his answer to the Senate today, the report was done with the support of this chamber and it was an independent review of the way pensions were to be assessed. The results of that independent review came to this place and the government agreed with the review. That was not easy. All of us, every person in this chamber, have people in our electorates who have DFRDB pensions. All of us know what extremely strong advocates they are and I would expect that every one of us meets regularly with those people. They come forward with their arguments and they are very telling about the way they feel that their DFRDB pensions should be assessed.

Those same arguments were the ones that they took to the review in 2008 and the independent assessment said that that was not going to be the way that the pensions would be assessed. We will continue to have a debate, and I think we should. None of these issues should remain untouched. All these debates should be had, but the real issue of the debate should be about what we are discussing, not some attempted slur on our minister, as we have seen today, to imply that he did not have any compassion or knowledge of the people who have served our country. That is not the way to have an effective debate. That is not the way to show respect for the very personnel about whom we are talking. The question given to the minister today talked about the process for DFRDB pensions, and we do know what that means—and Minister Carr does know what a DFRDB pension is—

Senator Ronaldson: He has no idea.

Senator MOORE: I can guarantee that he does in terms of the process. What the question was referring to was how it was going to be calculated for the impact of the carbon price. That was not mentioned by Senator Johnston in his taking note contribution. Senator Ronaldson clearly knows that the point of his question was about how the pensioners on the DFRDB system would be impacted by the carbon price. That was what the minister went to in his answer. But in Senator Johnston's taking note effort, he turned that around to an attack on the foreign minister. That does not actually add to the debate. It becomes personal and minimises the impact of the original question.

We can tell people in this chamber what the impact on DFRDB pensions will be by the indexation of their pension. Certainly, you would have to admit that the minister did say that DFRDB pensioners will have their pension linked to the CPI. That is what happens now. That is the result of the Wallis review. That is the result of several debates, and I think there have been at least three debates in the last 18 months in this place on the way DFRDB pensions will be handled. After all of those debates, the end result is that the CPI is the way that the pensions will be handled. I fully expect that we will have these debates into the future, and so be it. But in looking at the way the question was answered today, and that is what taking note is all about, what was said was that they are done through the CPI—the impact on DFRDB pensions will be continuing. (Time expired)