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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6179


Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (15:36): My intention was to speak only briefly on the piece of legislation and to rise in support of it on the basis that it provides a fundamental good in dealing with the challenges faced by many workers around superannuation, particularly in ensuring the compliance necessary by employers for every Australian worker to be paid what they are due consistent with the tax office and many other requirements. Every single member across this parliament would be aware of the challenges that many employees face in ensuring they have the benefits owed them by law and the arrangements necessary to secure their superannuation. In particular, people working in part-time, flexible or intermittent work need assistance in seeking the opportunity to secure their entitlements.

This bill provides a framework for directly making sure that people are paid the benefits that they have accrued and earned. The bill introduces amendments to improve compliance and crack down on employers who do the wrong thing. Whether you're on this side of the chamber or on the other side of the chamber, making sure that occurs is critical. Some employers, sadly, do not pay their employees' superannuation because they do not understand their obligations under the superannuation guarantee. This amendment ensures those employers that do the wrong thing and do not pay their employees' superannuation benefits will face stiff penalties including up to 12 months of imprisonment. This sanction sends a very clear signal that failure to comply with the superannuation guarantee is a serious offence taken very seriously by everybody in this parliament and most particularly by the Turnbull government. We must ensure appropriate safeguards have been built into this system so that, where there is nonpayment of benefits, there is not just proper recourse for those who are missing out but punishment for those employers who are doing the wrong thing by their workers.

Across this great nation millions of Australians are doing the right thing in their small businesses and have nothing to fear from this piece of legislation—people who take a stick and make a wicket out of it by taking a risk and providing an opportunity for Australians of all different ages and skill levels to secure employment, whether for the first time or throughout different stages of their career, and have the chance to better their lot. The simple expectation in response to a fair day's work is, of course, a fair day's pay. On top of that, a fair day's pay means making sure they're paid the full benefits associated with such an arrangement.

This bill also seeks to modernise the existing arrangements particularly related to the superannuation guarantee and the potential to provide reporting, particularly as a consequence of changes in technology but also to make sure that we minimise and reduce the regulation and red tape that are imposed on employers who are doing the right thing. This piece of legislation seeks to achieve all of those benefits in a relatively straightforward way, to the benefit of Australian workers.

The critical part of this bill is that it sits at the heart of an industrial relations system that makes sure it treats workers with decency and respect and also makes sure that people who make a contribution and who stand on their own two feet do not face deleterious or negative consequences at the hands of employers who do the wrong thing. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.