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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2255

Senator WOODLEY (11.52 a.m.) —I listened very carefully to Senator Herron and Senator Patterson. What they need to understand is that I indicated in my speech on the second reading and this morning that what the Australian Democrats really wanted in terms of this legislation was for any change to the assets testing of allocated pensions to be put off until the income and assets test review. Then we could have dealt with all of the problems. We would have them before us and we could have dealt with all the new answers, the dates and so on. But we could not get any agreement to that, either from the government or from the opposition; so we have had to go to a fall back position, which is not our preference.

  Senator Herron should not tell me that I am somehow denigrating the position of the committee. He needs to understand that if the opposition had agreed in the first place to the proposals we were making, the whole issue could have been addressed and there would have been a sensible approach to the whole issue. But that was not acceptable so we have come in with a fall back position. The opposition has a further fall back position.

  In the end, what we want to achieve is for people not to be able to rort the system, which is one of the problems we are addressing. That is one principle. On the other hand, we do not want people who have made arrangements about their pensions to be disadvantaged. So we are trying to balance two principles to which we adhere.

  Our proposal for 1992 was a fall back position. A further fall back position is the proposal for 1994. The opposition needs to understand that we tried to get this matter addressed sensibly but what we got, of course, was the usual problem of people not being able to negotiate because they do not believe it ought to be done in that way to get a sensible conclusion. Then they want to criticise us because to arrive at a sensible conclusion, we have had to make some dancing around the maypole arrangements on the floor of the chamber.