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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2291

Senator JONES —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that, in early April, the Queensland Government moved to increase markedly the superannuation benefits payable to Queensland's senior public servants? Does this type of action assist the Federal Government in pursuing its policy of wage moderation in Australia as a whole? If not, what general effect does this type of action have on the wage policy?

Senator WALSH —I am aware of the recent actions of the Queensland Government; indeed, somebody living in Queensland was kind enough to post to me a copy of the Brisbane Courier-Mail editorial of 7 April. The editorial, which was highly critical of the Queensland Government's actions, said:

Last year, Queensland's senior public servants received a salary increase of about $20,000 a year to nearly $100,000.

That is as much as the Australian Capital Territory doctors union is trying to grab for the part time job which its members hold. In Queensland, senior public servants actually received a $20,000 increase in one year, but at least it was for a full time job. Their salary increased to nearly $100,000, according to the editorial. It continued:

At the same time, their retirement benefits jumped from about $624,000 to an estimated $784,000.

That was last year. It continued:

Now, with the increased benefits, the payout figure rises to about $830,000 with the possibility of going over the million-dollar mark if the existing terms of service are renewed.

The editorial continues, but I think that I have quoted enough to make the point.

Employer superannuation contributions are part of the total cost of labour. The Commonwealth Government has been striving to see developments in the employer superannuation contributions field harmonised with the tribunal-based wage fixing system. Sweetheart deals over superannuation of the type that the Petersen regime has done outside the wage fixing principles are as much a problem as sweetheart deals over direct wages for length of the working week, et cetera. Although the Petersen regime fulminates about containing costs, it does sweetheart deals on the side with some of its own employees, giving them superannuation payouts of up to $830,000. Under those circumstances, it is much more difficult for any responsible government to ask ordinary Australian workers to display wage restraint. It is essential, if such calls are to be successful, that highly paid privileged people, such as those who work for the Petersen regime in Queensland, are not doing the opposite and ripping off the system. In short, the Queensland Government's actions are irresponsible on both fronts and they demonstrated, yet again, the hypocrisy of the Petersen regime.