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Monday, 26 October 2009
Page: 6973

Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (1:38 PM) —The Greens supported those last four amendments moved by Senator Xenophon. I seek leave to now move Greens amendments (2) and (6) together on sheet 5858 revised.

Leave granted.

Senator BOB BROWN —I move:

(2)    Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (line 14), omit “and (2A)”, substitute “, (2A), (2D) and (2E)”.

(6)    Schedule 1, item 22, page 8 (after line 20), after subsection 200E(2C), insert:

Fourth condition

      (2D)    The fourth condition is that a general meeting that considers such a resolution must not have been called for the sole or dominant purpose of passing the resolution.

Fifth condition

       (2E)    The fifth condition is that approval of such a resolution at a general meeting must not occur until the retiree has ceased to hold the relevant offices or positions.

These amendments, if passed, would mean that a shareholder meeting cannot be called for the sole purpose of voting on termination payments. Secondly, the final decision on the payment of a termination package is made after the relevant executive has left the company, so the payment would be based on actual performance, not anticipated performance. The two provisions, by the way, were originally contained in the exposure draft of the Corporations Amendment (Improving Accountability on Termination Payments) Bill 2009 released by the minister last May. They seemed sensible in that the approval for termination pay after the departure of the executive ensures that decisions are based on actual performance. The provision regarding shareholder meetings ensures that companies cannot manipulate their shareholders by calling inconvenient and expensive meetings. The question to the government is: how come these excellent proposals from government suddenly disappeared from this legislation? What was the consultation process with business that has led to them being kiboshed? We are seeking to amend them and I would like to have that explanation at least from the government before it votes down what were its own proposals back in May.