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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31592

Mr COX (8:41 PM) —I think it is important to recognise first that these employers have been enjoying something of a holiday from paying the full superannuation guarantee levy equivalent paid for other workers and that the employees in these occupations will in fact suffer a lower standard of living in retirement for the relatively long period over which they have not received superannuation guarantee contributions paid at an ordinary times earnings base. We had wanted this anomaly corrected as quickly as possible, which was the reason for proposing an effective start date of 2005.

I am painfully aware that, on previous occasions in the last couple of years when we have set relatively short transition dates or the government has acceded to relatively short transition dates for similar measures, they have not been met; we have actually been back here extending transitional arrangements for an extra year to accommodate other arrangements where special situations are being brought into line with general case. So I do accept that there may be some employers who would have difficulty dealing with this.

The parliamentary secretary has said that a 2008 effective date will provide sufficient transition to ensure one bargaining cycle, and one bargaining cycle ought to be sufficient for correcting this anomaly. I was not impressed by his suggestion, and I do not believe that the member for Rankin, who is the shadow minister for workplace relations, would have been impressed by his suggestion that these employees may suffer smaller pay increases as these employers seek to make this adjustment over a shorter period than before 2010. I do not think that that is a reasonable assumption for the government to make.

I note the parliamentary secretary's comments that the original 2010 start date was approved by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. It would have been more reasonable if the government had consulted with the ACTU as well. The government has a very comfortable relationship with the Executive Director of ACCI, Mr Peter Hendy, who was an adviser to them in opposition and to ministers in this place before he took up his current position, but I do not see Peter as being the font of all wisdom on industrial relations policy. I have not had an opportunity to consult with the shadow minister for retirement incomes, Senator Sherry, because these amendments were only shown to me by the parliamentary secretary while the member for Newcastle was finishing her speech. Senator Sherry went to Hobart today for Jim Bacon's funeral and has not returned. I will see if I can consult with him after we have dispensed with this business in the House. (Extension of time granted)In the interim I think it would be best if I said that the opposition will not oppose this amendment in the House, and I will endeavour to consult with my colleague in Hobart before the matter is returned to the Senate to be finalised.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hawker)—The question is that the parliamentary secretary has moved that the House insists on disagreeing with the amendments insisted on by the Senate, and that in place thereof government amendments, as set out in the schedule circulated to honourable members, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.