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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2895

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE(10.51) —We have just listened to an absolutely extraordinary speech from Senator Jack Evans of the Australian Democrats. He had the luxury, sitting with his three colleagues last night, of moving an amendment on which he provided no costing but by which he suggested alteration to the social services legislation, with an indexation mentality, which is an inflation mentality, with regard to provisions in the legislation before us. For him to suggest that there is some reluctance on the part of the Opposition to make its position clear ignores what we have been saying about the proposed superannuation legislation since May 1983. We have made it quite clear that our approach to legislation of this kind is that we shall repeal it on our return to government.

As regards Senator Evans's amendment to the clause, he circulated earlier his amendment to the second reading, which contained a number of provisions that we did not support, for the reasons I have just mentioned. When we were voting on that he then circulated some amendments to the clauses, having suddenly discovered that the Bill was amendable in the Senate. For him now to come up with some sort of outrage in regard to the Opposition is absolutely insupportable.

I make it perfectly clear that the Opposition has views about the Government's revenue-raising proposals. Those proposals are supported, with the exceptions that I named when we were dealing with retrospective legislation in particular circumstances. This is a revenue-raising tax Bill of the Government. It contains numerous proposals, such as the strengthening of section 26 (a) and a whole range of other measures related to other taxation provisions. The House of Representatives having risen, it is certainly not our attitude that a frivolous amendment introduced in the closing stages of this session of the Senate by the Australian Democrats to hold up a very important tax Bill ought to have our support. We would not thereby put ourselves in the position in which Senator Evans would like to find himself, in that he would have somehow saved superannuitants. It is an absurd proposal. If he understood either the legislation or the practices of the Parliament, he would not have made such a ridiculous speech as that which he has just delivered.

The Opposition will not be supporting the amendment put forward by the Democrats. We put forward our own second reading amendment, which was the same as the one on which we divided the House of Representatives. With the charade last night of two amendments before the Senate-one from the Democrats and one from us-we chose not to call a division on them, because we would like to get the legislation dealt with. There is plenty of legislation ahead of us. Simply to have almost the whole Senate moving across the floor to suit the Democrats so that they could make some sort of grandstand did not fit in with our attitude. Our position is clear. We do not support the proposals for the changes that have been instituted by the Government, but we have agreed to the passage of the legislation. The way in which to change these proposals for superannuation is to change the Government.