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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 11

Mr NAIRN (Special Minister of State) (9:46 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Superannuation Legislation Amendment Bill 2007 makes a number of enhancements to the Australian government’s civilian and military superannuation schemes.

The bill removes, from 1 July 2008, the requirement for contributory members of the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme, the CSS, to make member contributions to the scheme. As a result, member contributions will become voluntary. This will provide members with the same flexibility and incentives to contribute to superannuation that are available to the broader community.

The bill also allows, from 1 July 2008, eligible members of the PSS to elect to leave the PSS and join another superannuation arrangement for the payment of future contributions. A member’s eligibility to join another superannuation arrangement will be determined by the choice arrangements that their employer has in place. For example, a member who is able to join the Public Sector Superannuation Accumulation Plan, the PSSap, will move to that scheme in the first instance and from there will have access to the government’s broader choice of fund arrangements. The bill also amends the membership provisions for the PSSap to allow eligible PSS members who have elected to join the PSSap to become members of that scheme. These changes will provide eligible members with the flexibility for future contributions that is already available to most of the Australian workforce.

From 1 January 2008, the bill will enable members of the CSS to obtain early release of their funded account balances on severe financial hardship and compassionate grounds to the extent allowed under the superannuation regulatory framework.

The bill will also facilitate, from 1 January 2008, the prospective restoration of pensions for persons whose spouse pensions, provided under certain closed Australian government civilian and military superannuation schemes, were cancelled upon remarriage. Upon successful application, spouse pensions cancelled upon remarriage (prior to 1976 in the civilian scheme and prior to 1977 in military schemes) will be prospectively reinstated.

Changes to the CSS as a consequence of the government’s Better Super reforms are also included in the bill. The main amendment will ensure the continued payment of employer productivity contributions where a member has not provided their tax file number. This is consistent with the arrangements in the broader community where employer contributions would still be payable even though the member has not provided their tax file number. The other amendments are technical and take account of the payment of amounts from the CSS Fund in relation to release authorities issued by the Commissioner of Taxation and to reflect changed superannuation terminology.

Where necessary, changes for the PSS to reflect the measures just described will be made by the PSS Amending Deed.

The bill also ensures that the entitlement to benefits in the military superannuation schemes relating to postretirement marriages is consistent with the treatment in the civilian schemes. The bill also addresses an anomaly in the family law provisions of the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973 to allow the family law orders to be applied as intended.

I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Snowdon) adjourned.