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Thursday, 12 May 2011
Page: 3812


Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (11:14): by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) to (4), as circulated in the name of the honourable member for North Sydney, together:

(1) Schedule 1, item 9, page 9 (lines 4 and 5), omit "votes cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were", substitute "total votes that were entitled to be cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were cast".

(2) Schedule 1, item 13, page 13 (lines 6 and 7), omit "votes cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were", substitute "total votes that were entitled to be cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were cast".

(3) Schedule 1, item 13, page 13 (lines 9 and 10), omit "votes cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were", substitute "total votes that were entitled to be cast on a resolution that the remuneration report be adopted were cast".

(4) Schedule 1, item 19, page 17 (lines 29 and 30), omit "votes cast were", substitute "total votes that were entitled to be cast were cast".

On 24 March the member for North Sydney, the shadow Treasurer, outlined on behalf of the coalition, as the parliamentary secretary would be aware, that we supported this bill. He said that at the outset of his speech. But he also flagged back at that point that there was one issue on which we would be moving an amendment. He said at the time that the coalition would be moving an amendment—which was circulated some time ago; it is my understanding that it was circulated back on 24 March—to amend wording in relation to the 25 per cent trigger that the parliamentary secretary has just referred to. He said:

The intention of the amendment is to improve the representation of total shareholder views, because as the legislation stands—

as the shadow Treasurer said—

it is possible for a no vote to be triggered against a remuneration report by less than 25 per cent of all available votes …

On behalf of the coalition, the shadow Treasurer has consulted widely on this and, as a consequence, it is the view of the coalition that there would be an improvement if the amendments that have been circulated were passed. The effect of the amendments is to ensure that the 25 per cent relates to all available votes. As the parliamentary secretary outlined, his legislation as it stands has the 25 per cent threshold applying to votes cast at an annual general meeting. That could be a fraction of the total votes that are available. The coalition, as the member for North Sydney outlined, has considered this. Following consultations, we believe that it is important to make this change. We think that the measures within the bill themselves are improvements but we think that, when it comes to this test, the 25 per cent test should apply in the way that the amendments moved would provide. The amendments would strengthen it. That 25 per cent test should apply to available votes. The amendments seek to make that change and that change only. Having heard the parliamentary secretary's opposition to these amendments in his speech in the second reading debate, I will now give him the opportunity to repeat everything he said in the last five minutes of his speech. Now he has had a warm-up, so we will see how he goes the second time around.