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Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Page: 15319

Senator SHERRY (6:43 PM) —I learnt a long time ago that many people do not understand the impact of a percentage, so I would like money figures with respect to parliamentarians, Federal Court judges and the Governor-General. I think that would give the public a more accurate idea of the level of benefit. Money figures are more easily understood than percentage figures. So, in addition to the costings questions that I have asked, the minister can anticipate that there will be a similar range of questions about the Superannuation (Government Co-contribution for Low Income Earners) Bill 2003 when we get to it. It is not my intention to ask any more questions of significance about this bill. I do not think that the opposition has been unreasonable about the number of questions asked and points it has made about this bill in the committee stage.

We are finishing deliberating on this matter at 6.50, so I ask, Minister, as you will have the opportunity overnight, that you seek further answers to the questions that I have posed to date on this bill. I think it would be unfortunate if we were in a position tomorrow where we do not have most of the answers to the questions I have sought. It would also be unfortunate if we were in a position of not having on hand one or two people who can advise us about the cost estimates for the low-income earners co-contribution, which we will presumably be dealing with tomorrow. I assume that the government will list these bills on the agenda for tomorrow.

The opposition does not want to be in a position where, if we deal with the bills tomorrow and a range of questions are posed about the cost estimates, who benefits, and the level of income with respect to the low-income earners co-contribution, we are not able to get a response to the questions and they have to be given at some future date. I do not regard that as satisfactory. I want to see these bills dealt with in some shape or form tomorrow. I do not want to see the debate go beyond tomorrow, and that is not my intention. I put you on notice, Minister, that a similar range of questions about low-income earners will be asked tomorrow, and we would like answers tomorrow to what I think are reasonable questions.

A summary of the minister's argument is that there is an increased incentive to save, the disincentive to save is reduced, and therefore more people will contribute to superannuation at these income levels. There is an assumption that there will be an increased level of contributions to superannuation as a result of these measures. There should be an estimate of that level of increased take-up. I would like to know—it probably will not be tonight—what the estimated level of increased take-up as a result of this measure will be of superannuation savings, assuming the legislation passes because of the government's agreement with the Democrats.