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Thursday, 1 June 1995
Page: 829

Mr TICKNER (Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications and the Arts) (9.41 a.m.) —I move:

  That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill amends four acts dealing with superannuation for Commonwealth sector civilian employees: the Superannuation Act 1922, the Superannuation Act 1976, the Superannuation Act 1990 and the Superannuation Legislation Amendment Act 1994. It also removes gender specific terms from the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948.

  The main purpose of the bill is to make amendments to continue the process of ensuring that the two superannuation schemes for Commonwealth civilian employees comply with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 and regulations under that act. I expect the boards of trustees of the two schemes to elect that the schemes become regulated superannuation funds under SI(S) with effect from 1 July 1995.

  The bill will also make some technical amendments to the acts to name the schemes, the boards of trustees and the funds as the commonwealth superannuation scheme and the public sector superannuation scheme, the CSS and PSS boards and the CSS and PSS funds. This will ensure that the generally used names have a legal basis and will enable ease of reference in other legislation. The opportunity has also been taken to include amendments to correct anomalies that have arisen and caused inequities—for example, to provide restoration of an invalidity pension that had been cancelled on a return to work that is terminated in the probationary period because of ill health.

  The bill includes amendments to restore the original intentions of the 1976 act as a response to the changing employment conditions in the public sector. For example, the change to the definition of minimum retiring age in that act formally recognises that most members of the scheme are able to retire from age 55.

  Also included are some amendments to assist administrative efficiency. For example, the boards will be able to rely on advice from employers rather than have to check personnel records for over 200,000 members. These amendments will not prevent the boards from correcting errors in such information nor interfere with members' appeal rights. The bill includes several technical amendments and drafting corrections resulting from previous amendments and to remove gender specific terms.

  I now turn to the financial impact of the bill. The amendments to correct anomalies will increase the cost of the schemes slightly. Most of the provisions designed to assist administration efficiency will decrease administrative costs, or prevent increases in such costs. A further administrative amendment will reduce the cost of the CSS but not the overall cost to the Commonwealth as there will be an offsetting compensation cost. Because the anomalies occur only in unusual situations, it is likely that there would be no overall cost to the schemes or the Commonwealth from the proposed amendments. I commend the bill to the House.