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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2238


Senator MESSNER(4.31) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

Page 14 of the report of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission reveals statistics relating to matters that were put before the Commission over the last year upon which the report was based. I notice that of a total of 2,981 applications to the Commission, approximately 1,865 have been in relation to wage indexation. The second highest group relates to special allowance. That number is 355. There is no specification as to what that might be. I take it that it does not include the superannuation arrangements which have been pursued by various unions against employers.


Senator Button —It is more an electoral allowance and things like that.


Senator MESSNER —I take it that the special allowance refers only to Ministers, not to members of parliament generally. The superannuation arrangements that are being pursued by trade unions at the moment against employers are not superannuation at all. They are merely deferred wage increases. No arrangements are made by which employees contribute to their own welfare during their working lives such as the arrangements that have been established, for instance, under the building unions' superannuation scheme. It is merely a way of circumventing the accord. Union members on the other side of the chamber smile at that because they know it is right. It is just a way of getting around the accord and giving wage increases to the most militant union leaders in order to keep some kind of faith with the public on this matter.

I draw to the attention of the Senate the fact that the report of the Hancock Committee of Review of the Australian Industrial Relations Law and Systems is very clear. It states that the current pursuit of superannuation within the industrial arena ought to be brought under the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The statistics in the report of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission reveal that that has not been done. Again, the Government is giving some kind of aegis and respectability to the claims of the trade union movement on superannuation. This is at a time when the Government has not yet determined its policy in relation to occupational superannuation in the way in which it will be determined in the public arena, particularly in the union movement. As I understand it, from questioning Senator Grimes, the Government has made no determinations upon a general kind of occupational superannuation arrangement that might apply to all Australians and not just to trade unionists who are in a special position to be able to push their own barrows. For that reason I believe that we have a direct example in this report of one of the problems that is existent in the Hancock recommendations that were put down today. This is obviously an area in which there will be some contention on the part of the Opposition in the months ahead.

Question resolved in the affirmative.