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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2204

Senator WITHERS(10.34) —I was not going to speak this morning, for a very simple reason. I think it is somewhat ludicrous to try to have a debate on a report which has just been put down when all of my colleagues in this place have not had an opportunity to read it. Nor, of course, would they have had an opportunity to read the Hansard of the proceedings of the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations, which I also think is important. I intervene in the debate for one reason only, and that is because of the matters raised by Senator Harradine. I say to Senator Harradine that if he reads the transcript of evidence he will see that I did raise the problem of vesting and the employees' possible capacity to recover. I have followed with interest the remarks that Senator Harradine has made in these debates.

It was quite obvious that due to the limited amount of time we had we could not range across all the superannuation problems. I did raise the matter with the Commissioner of Taxation, and it was fair enough, from his point of view, that he was not terribly interested. We touched on the problems of people not getting their just desserts. I did ask him-I am speaking from memory as I do not have the transcript in front of me-whether or not an obligation should have been imposed on the Australian Taxation Office to oversee these schemes and not allow these sorts of rorts to happen, but the representatives from the Taxation Office did not seem to be terribly interested in that sort of thing; they were just interested in revenue.

To the best of my very limited ability, I did attempt to raise with the tax authorities some of the points raised by Senator Harradine. I suggest to Senator Harradine that he is really looking at another aspect altogether and that is superannuation funds. I do not know whether that should be referred to the Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations or to some other committee. I think this exercise is really separate from the reference of this Bill to the Committee at that stage. I regret that I was not able to pursue the ideas of Senator Harradine with better ability that I did.