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Thursday, 14 February 2019
Page: 10350


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and the Public Service, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (19:08): The government will not be supporting the Labor amendments either. I have to say that, on this occasion, I agree with Senator Whish-Wilson that the Greens amendments are better than the Labor amendments. The Labor amendments were essentially going to gut the whole bill, whereas with us supporting the Greens amendments today we are able to secure the passage of important reforms like the capping of fees on low-value accounts, the abolition of exit fees and the streamlined consolidation of superannuation accounts. We would have liked to have seen the reforms in relation to insurance pass through the Senate today, but that wasn't possible. There wasn't a majority in this chamber for that.

So instead of getting nothing, we're securing passage of a substantial part of our package, and we will, of course, introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity to pursue the remaining part of this very important reform package. Of course, the Labor Party would have liked us to just cop a complete dismantling of every aspect of important reform. That is not something we were prepared to entertain, because we are standing up for the best interests of Australians saving for their retirement. That is what Australians saving for their retirement expect us to do—to get as many improvements as we can today by securing a consensus on the Senate floor. That is what we've been able to do. Let's continue the conversation in relation to the remaining reforms.

As I've indicated to the chamber previously, the government continues to be of the view that there ought to be reforms to the default provision of insurance for under-25s and low-balance accounts. As I indicated earlier, while the government acknowledges that insurance in superannuation provides benefits to many people, there are some cohorts, particularly young people, who do not receive value from default insurance, and for too long these people have been cross-subsidising other members. The independent Productivity Commission, in its superannuation report, found that while insurance in super provides value for money for many members, it doesn't for all, particularly young members or members with low incomes. The PC found that insurance in super is poor value and does not meet their needs.

Secure passage on the very important reforms that we are able to get majority support for in this chamber is why we've made the decisions we have made. Labor's amendment seeks to delay the implementation date to 2020. We don't support that. It seeks to do a whole range of other things that we don't believe are desirable. For example, it seeks to give APRA the authority to carve out funds of cohorts of members from the under-25s and under-$6,000, where members are at particular risk—

Senator O'Neill interjecting

Senator CORMANN: Let me tell you, essentially the Labor amendments were causing difficulty all throughout the reform. To be fair to the Greens, the Greens are carving out a very distinct bit, and that is a very distinct bit that we will be able to pursue separately later. But in the meantime we don't want to stand in the way of Australians saving for their retirement and having the benefit of lower fees and the abolition of exit fees altogether.