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Monday, 20 June 2011
Page: 3345


Senator SHERRY (TasmaniaMinister Assisting on Deregulation and Public Sector Superannuation, Minister for Small Business and Minister Assisting the Minister for Tourism) (21:41): We are dealing with a group of amendments relating to ACTU representation. I have already referred, in my second reading speech, to the SI(S) Act, which establishes the principle of equal representation: employer, employee, union. That is well accepted in respect of all superannuation funds. What Senator Cormann is suggesting is that in this case the employer would nominate five plus another three employee representatives. What he is suggesting is an arrangement that is contrary to that which exists at the present time prior to the two funds being merged. The military are entitled through their association to nominate two employee representatives and the ACTU three.

That is what happens at the present time. Even Senator Minchin, as Minister for Finance, when he closed the defined benefit fund and opened the defined contribution fund and created Aria, as it is known—and we supported those arrangements, by the way—maintained the ACTU nominees position. Senator Minchin is not renowned for his support of the union movement; he is renowned for being frank and realistic about fiscal issues and matters relating to superannuation—and I congratulate him for that. But not even Senator Minchin suggested that there should not be ACTU nominees.

We oppose the amendments. This is typical ongoing abuse of the trade union movement and the equal trustee arrangeĀ­ments that exist and that overwhelmingly have worked well in the governance of our superannuation system. The one example that Senator Cormann could refer to, the Motor Trades Association of Australia, is one of the few funds in this country that is actually an employer fund, in that the employer nominates all the trustees. Senator Cormann could not have picked a worse example. There are a couple of funds in this country that are totally employer nominated, and the MTAA is one of them, Senator Cormann, so you should check your facts. There are also a couple of funds in this country that predate the SIS arrangements of 1993 that I referred to earlier where the unions nominate the trustees. So there are only a couple of each, employer and union, that exist out of the many funds in this country, Senator, and your example was just wrong.

The government do not support these amendments with respect to removing the ACTU. We believe it is appropriate that the ACTU should nominate some of the trustees on the employee side. Question put:

That the amendments (Senator Cormann's) be agreed to.

The committee divided. [21:49]

(The Chairman—Senator Ferguson)

Question negatived.

Progress reported.