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Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Page: 4664

Carbon Pricing


Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:00): My question is to the minister representing both the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Senator Bob Carr. Given that it is two years to the day since the coalition committed to the fair indexation of DFRB and DFRDB military superannuation pensions, and three days from the toxic carbon tax starting, can the minister explain how much compensation a DFRDB military superannuant receiving the average annual pension payment of $24,386 will receive for the effects of the government's toxic carbon tax, a tax which is based on a lie?

The PRESIDENT: I must have an old sheet. I have an old listing; my apologies for that. I call the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Defence Materiel and the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Senator Bob Carr.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, on a point of order: I understand that Senator Carr is representing the Minister for Defence, but I believe that if it is a question relating to defence superannuation then Senator Wong is the best placed minister to respond. But obviously that—

Opposition senators interjecting

Senator Chris Evans: I am just trying to assist the Senate. If Senator Ronaldson would prefer Senator Carr to answer the question, that is fine. If the senator is after information, I think Senator Wong is best placed to answer the question. If not, that is fine.

The PRESIDENT: I must say that the sheet I had before me is why I was a bit confused. The sheet that I now have before me, from today's Notice Paper, tells me that the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and Minister for Defence Science Personnel, and the Minister for Defence Materiel is Senator Bob Carr.






Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:04): I am eager to answer the question.

The PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, Senator Bob Carr.

Senator Ronaldson: On the point of order: the very reason this question was directed to this minister is that it is the department of the minister he is representing which actually pays the pensions.

The PRESIDENT: That is not the point.

Senator BOB CARR: This one was under-rehearsed. This is not a kabuki drama. The Australian government accepted the recommendation of an independent review that Australian government civilian and military superannuation pensions should continue to be indexed by the consumer price index. The indexation of Australian government civilian and military superannuation pensions was subject to a comprehensive independent review in 2008. This review was conducted by Mr Trevor Matthews, an independent actuary.

Senator Johnston interjecting

Senator BOB CARR: No, on the contrary, he is a very prominent actuary. To cast aspersions on his reputation is, I think, not only deeply offensive to him but—

Senator Brandis interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Brandis, I was just about to rule that Senator Carr should come to the question, if that is your point of order.

Senator Brandis: That was my point of order, Mr President, yes.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Bob Carr, you have a minute and 20 seconds remaining to address the question.

Senator BOB CARR: I welcome the opportunity, because in August 2009 the government accepted the review recommendation that Australian superannuation pensions should continue to be indexed by the CPI. Aligning those arrangements with the Commonwealth—

Senator Ronaldson: On a point of order, Mr President: while I am sure the minister has no idea what the DFRDB is, I do, however, ask him to return to the question and answer: what is the carbon tax compensation for these people?

Senator BOB CARR: I just said that the pension is indexed to the CPI. He cannot absorb that. That was the most pithy and relevant answer to his question he could have. At the end of this parliamentary session, they have absolutely run out of questions to ask. That is the revelation here.

Senator Brandis: On a point of order, Mr President: as much as we might all be enjoying this thespian display, the fact is that the minister has not approached the topic of the question, which was specifically and only directed to compensation for DFRDB superannuants for the carbon tax.

Senator Chris Evans: Mr President, on the point of order. Senator Carr has been as helpful as he can be in providing an answer to the senator's question. I advised Senator Ronaldson that Senator Wong was best placed to help him if he seriously wanted a specific answer to his specific question. But he doesn't. This is, again, another political stunt. Senator Carr has been as helpful as he can within his responsibilities and he is directly responding to the question asked.

The PRESIDENT: I have drawn the minister's attention on two occasions to the need to address the question asked by Senator Ronaldson.

Senator BOB CARR: The appropriateness of this approach is confirmed by this paragraph from the Matthews review in 2008, quoting the ABS to the effect that:

The CPI is a robust measure of general price inflation for the household sector—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bob Carr, resume your seat. Senator Ronaldson is on his feet

Senator Ronaldson: On a point of order, Mr President: can the minister please attempt to give a semblance of an answer to a matter that affects 57,000 Australians and their families?

Senator Chris Evans: What is the point of order?

The PRESIDENT: Order! I have drawn the minister's attention to the question.

Senator BOB CARR: The government accepted the Matthews recommendation that the pension be indexed to the CPI. By the way, what was accepted by this government was never accepted by them when they were in government. If this is such a matter of tender concern to the conscience— (Time expired)






















Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that on Sunday military superannuants will have their superannuation increase by the CPI only, and receive no direct assistance for the increased costs of a carbon tax, what justification does the minister have for this unfair treatment of 57,000 Australian veterans and their families?


Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:10): There is no unfair treatment because we have accepted the recomĀ­mendation that aligned indexation arrangeĀ­ments for all Commonwealth schemes with the age pension. They will receive an immediate increase. We accepted the recommendation of CPI indexation. The contrast with when they were in government was that they never accepted that principle. It has been accepted under this government.

The PRESIDENT: Minister, you do need to come to the question.

Senator BOB CARR: Some commentators have noted statements by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2005 that 'the CPI is not a purchasing power or cost-of-living measure'. But in their subsequent paper, for the Matthews review in 2008, the ABS stated explicitly—

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Bob Carr, resume your seat.

Senator Ronaldson: Mr President, my point of order is in relation to standing order 168(1) and I ask the minister to table the document that he is reading from.

Senator Jacinta Collins: Mr President, on the point of order. The minister is not referring to a document in any way relevant to that standing order. He is not reading it; he is referring to some elements of the material across a range of documents and the standing order does not apply.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order. There needs to be a motion if that is the path you wish to proceed down, Senator Ronaldson.

Senator BOB CARR: On 14 June over 310,000 members of the veteran community— (Time expired)









Senator RONALDSON (Victoria) (14:12): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. When will the government join with the coalition in not just giving veterans and their families fair indexation but scrapping the toxic carbon tax, which is based on a lie and which will drive up cost-of-living pressures?


Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:13): On 14 June over 310,000 members of the veteran community received an initial payment, the clean energy advance, to help meet household costs which en the carbon price starts on 1 July. This payment, part of the Household Assistance Package, is an upfront lump sum amount to last until ongoing assistance, the clean energy supplement, commences between March 2013 and January 2014. All Veterans' Affairs pension recipients are eligible for clean energy payments. The children of veterans and members who receive fortnightly educational allowances are also eligible for clean energy payments. Disability pensions, including—

Senator Ronaldson: On a point of order, Mr President: he is not referring to DFRDB recipients. If the minister is saying that DFRDB recipients will be getting a payment, can he please tell the chamber now and I will spread the word for him.

The PRESIDENT: Order! That is an argument. The minister is answering the question. The minister might not be answering the question in the manner desired by the questioner. I draw the minister's attention to the question.

Senator BOB CARR: Service pensioners received a lump sum of $250 for singles and $190 for each eligible member of a couple. War widows and widowers received a lump sum of $250. This is comprehensive household assistance— (Time expired)