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Tuesday, 25 March 1997
Page: 2425

Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer)(8.53 p.m.) —We will strongly oppose amendments 11 to 14 moved by the Democrats. These amendments require employee consent before an employer can open an RSA. It is inconsistent with existing requirements under section 153 of the SI(S) Act. This is yet another attempt to create an uneven playing field. This attempt has been relentless all through the evening.

Senator Sherry —Wait until tomorrow!

Senator KEMP —We have not seen your amendments, or have we seen your amendments?

Senator Sherry —We have not seen your latest amendments either.

Senator KEMP —We may have seen your amendments but they have not been claimed to be your amendments. This is inconsistent with the existing superannuation requirements under section 153 of the SI(S) Act. It creates an uneven playing field and is part of the broad thrust of the amendments coming from the opposition. In our view, it also imposes an undue administrative burden on an employer, especially on small business. This government is about small business. We have a particular view on small business which you may not share, but these RSAs will be of considerable assistance in that area. Small business will have to get details from casual and itinerant workers who may have moved on. We do not think that is efficient.

Another question was whether employers should be required to use a separate application form for each RSA opened on behalf of an employee. The RSA Bill does not restrict an RSA institution from accepting a single application from an employer to open an RSA for more than one employee. Where this occurs, the application must contain enough information to enable the RSA institution to be able to provide relevant disclosure documentation to the employees. I stress that this is consistent with similar provisions in the SI(S) Act which do not restrict an employer from opening a number of accounts in a superannuation fund with a single application form. That is, any requirement to provide that individual applications be used each time an employer opens an RSA on behalf of an employee would be inconsistent with current practice in the superannuation industry.

A lot of arguments which are now being brought forward are attempting not to assist employees and employers but to disadvantage RSAs on what should be a competitively neutral playing field with the superannuation industry. We believe such a requirement provides little benefit to employees and yet imposes a significant administrative burden on both RSA providers and employers. We will be strongly opposing the amendments that the Democrats have moved. I urge the Senate to reject the amendments.