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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2150

Senator BELL (10.08 p.m.) —The amendments remove the $30,000 cap for non-award employees and make the cap a straight six months salary. The beneficiaries of this change would appear to be non-award employees on high incomes. If non-award employees are on a salary of $65,000 a year for the six months before dismissal, having been on $55,000 for the six months before that, then they will have earned $60,000 for the previous 12 months which would make them just eligible to make a claim. But under the existing legislation these people would be limited to compensation of $30,000. Under the opposition's amendments they would be entitled to something like $32,500, which is the six months salary at the rate just before dismissal. That would mean, as I said earlier, that the beneficiaries would be people who are on high salaries.

  We believe that low income earners should be the principal beneficiaries of this legislation and any changes to the compensation cap should be in their direction. Notwithstanding the opposition's new found concern about the gap between the rich and the poor in this country, its amendment seeks to help those on high incomes while offering nothing to those on low and middle incomes.

  The opposition has assured us that it will not be voting for our amendment, which I intend to move as soon as we deal with this one. Given that that will be the opposition's position, despite having incorporated the Democrats amendment in an earlier draft of its own amendments, it seems to the Democrats that the priorities of the coalition are

entirely wrong. We will not be supporting this amendment.