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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 5041

Senator FERGUSON (5:57 PM) —Before I make my brief contribution I must declare an interest. I worked in the superannuation industry for seven years prior to coming to this place and then I worked on the superannuation committee, so I got it from both sides. What I would really like to know from Senator Hogg and the Labor Party is, if they were so concerned about making sure that workers had plenty of money in retirement, why did they take away the $3,000 tax deductibility for workers who were contributing on their own behalf to their own retirement fund along with the levy that was being put in at that time? They took away the tax deduction of $3,000 and many contracts fell over, because the workers said, `If I can't get an incentive by way of tax deduction, I am no longer going to contribute.' So all of those amounts that had just started over a few years were frittered away because of your policy.

If you want transparency in superannuation and you want to talk about showing everybody the exit fees and charges, why do you not tell us how much Bernie Fraser is being paid to do his ads for Cbus? Where does that appear on the balance sheet—or is he being very generous in his retirement and saying, `I'm prepared to do all of these ads for the industry fund for nothing.' Where is the transparency in what Bernie Fraser gets paid? You have never, ever answered that question at any time. If you are talking about choice, why is it that twice you have rejected choice on principle? You have rejected choice not because of any difficulty of the arrangements and not because you thought it was not the appropriate way to use choice; you opposed choice on principle. Senator Sherry, who moved this motion, was the chief architect of opposing superannuation choice because he opposed it on principle. If Senator Sherry is going to come in here as the new champion of choice, saying, `I've brought out a new policy,' what he has forgotten to tell people is, `Until this time I have opposed choice every inch of the way, because we as a party have opposed choice on principle.'

So there are three messages that the Labor Party really needs to make sure that they get in this chamber. Why do they do their own working mates in by taking away tax deductibility for their own contributions—for the money that they were prepared to put in? Why don't they come clean, be transparent and tell us what Bernie Fraser does get paid and what it costs the unions to run their funds? When their workers get a sheet of paper when they get a new job and they are told, `Look at this bundle of papers, then go home, fill them in and bring them back,' why is there no sitting down and talking to anybody about things such as, `What are your requirements by way of death and disability? How large is your family? Are you married?' or any of the questions that would identify the needs of the worker? Instead of that, it is, `Take the information home and sign it with all the other forms.'

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bartlett)—Order! The time allotted for the consideration of general business notices of motion has expired.