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Wednesday, 15 May 1985
Page: 2012

Senator COATES(5.20) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the report.

This Bill was referred to the Committee a week ago and the Committee has considered it in that time. As the Committee says in its report, it welcomes the Government's prompt action in introducing the Bill which incorporates the much needed changes to the administration of the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust. The Committee approves of the provisions of the Bill except in regard to four matters which it discusses in the report. We agree with the restructuring of the Trust with its objectives and duties being more clearly defined; a greater degree of independence being given to the Trust, and the increase in accountability to the contributors and the Parliament.

The four ways in which the Committee believes the Bill can be improved involve the prescription of matters which would undoubtedly happen in practice anyway. The first is to require the Trust to give an account in its next annual report of what consideration was given to any ministerial statement of government policy and what action was taken. The second is to ensure that the Australian Council of Trade Unions cannot nominate a person to the Trust unless that person's name was one of those suggested by a Public Service union. This proposal still allows full flexibility. I can assure the Senate that Mr Bob Gradwell of the ACTU, who has been consulted about this, is quite happy with the change. The third is to ensure that at least one of the government appointees is a financial or investment expert. The fourth is to ensure that any interim financial statement is tabled in the Parliament. We recommend fifthly that the definition of the liability of members and officers of the Trust be attended to urgently by the Government. Our recommendations are explained in the report, which I commend to the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) and the Senate. I suggest that the report be debated cognately with the Superannuation Legislation Amendment Bill 1985 when it is relisted for debate. I trust that that debate will be made easier and briefer because of the examination of the Bill by the Finance and Government Operations Committee. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.