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Thursday, 4 June 1970


Mr BURY (Wentworth) (Treasurer) {12.45] - by leave - 1 move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Trust has been engaged for some time in a review of the parliamentary retiring allowances scheme and last year invited suggestions from members of that scheme. Earlier this year the Trust considered the various suggestions put forward by members and reached conclusions on some of them. Examination of others is proceeding. As well, the Trust considered other aspects of the parliamentary and ministerial schemes that have been the subject of representations and suggestions in recent years. The amendments being made to the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act by this Bill result in the main from the Government's consideration of the proposals that have so far come forward from the Trust. The Bill removes those provisions in section 21 of the Act that require the reduction of pension when the person in receipt of pension is receiving remuneration as the holder of an office under, or from employment by, the Commonwealth or a State or an authority of the Commonwealth or a State. This change will bring the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act more into line with the Superannuation and the Defence Forces

Retirement Benefits Acts from which corresponding re-employment provisions were removed in 1965 and has been the subject of representations by members of the Parliament over a long period.

The provisions requiring reduction of pension if the pensioner receives salary or pension as a member or former member of a State parliament or as a State Minister, or cancellation of pension if he is re-elected to the Commonwealth Parliament are, however, retained. Under both the parliamentary and ministerial schemes male and female members contribute at the same rate. Whereas the widow of a male contributor or pensioner may at her option receive either a pension or a lump sum payment, the widower of a married female contributor or pensioner is not so entitled, the only benefit being a lump sum payment not to the widower but to the estate of the deceased. The Bill provides for the benefits for a widower in future to be the same as for a widow. Under the ministerial scheme, unless the 3 occasions rule applies, 8 years service as a Minister, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives or the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives is necessary to qualify for pension. In the case of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives who contribute atone half the Ministers' rate. 16 years service is necessary to qualify for pension while the qualifying period for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who contributes at one quarter of the Ministers' rate is 32 years. In future these other officeholders, while continuing to contribute at a reduced rale will qualify for pension from the Ministerial Fund after 8 years service. However, for the purpose of ascertaining the rate of pension payable, service as Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives will be placed in the same position as are the contributions of those office-holders. For example, a member who has completed 8 years service as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives will qualify for a 4-year pension under the expanded pension scale provided in the Bill. The Bill also extends the 3 occasions rule to these other office-holders.

At present a person who ceases to be an office-holder and does not qualify for pension is not entitled to a refund of his contributions to the Ministerial Fund until such time as he leaves the Parliament. The Bill modifies this provision so that the Trust may, on the written application of a former office-holder still serving in the Parliament, determine that there are special circumstances that justify an immediate payment of a refund.

Investigations as to the state and sufficiency of both the Parliamentary and Ministerial Funds are required to bc made at intervals of not more than 7 years. The first investigation of the Ministerial Fund is not due until 30th June 1972 and the next investigation of the Parliamentary Fund need not bc made until 30th June 1973. In view of the nature of the funds it has been decided that investigations should be made concurrently and at more frequent intervals. The Bill accordingly provides for investigations of both funds to be made as at 30th June 1970 and thereafter at intervals of not more than three years. The remaining provisions of the Bill are concerned with machinery and drafting amendments. I commend the Bill to honourable members.

Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.







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