Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 2 June 1987
Page: 3835

Mr CARLTON(10.25) —I move:

(1) Clause 3, page 3, at the end of the definition of ``superannuation fund'' add the following words and paragraph:

'', but does not include:

(c) a fund established as a result of an employee or employers being threatened, intimidated or coerced by a trade union or trade unions.''.

Our concern in this clause is to insert in the Bill a requirement that no superannuation fund will be recognised for tax concession purposes if the money that is in the fund is there as a result of coercion or intimidation.

Mr Robert Brown —Who will identify whether coercion or intimidation has been applied?

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member for Charlton asked a very good question: Who will identify it? The people who have been coerced will be able to identify whether they put their money into a fund willingly.

Mr Robert Brown —That is a provocative provision.

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member for Charlton said that this is a provocative provision. I will explain exactly to honourable members what the provision means. It is perfectly simple. If an employee does not want his or her life savings to be invested in a particular fund, or if the employer does not want to make a contribution into that fund, he should not have to, and it is absolutely wrong that as a result of coercion from a trade union-it has happened and it is a real fact of life-people should be required to put their own life savings or people who are contributing towards the life savings of their employees should be required under law to place that money in a fund which is not of their choice. In the very same way that the Liberal and National parties believe in non-compulsory unionism, in other words freedom of association, a very basic human liberty-we will in office conduct a referendum to allow the Australian population to confirm that it would prefer voluntary unionism-we are simply not prepared to allow people to be forced to place their life savings in investment vehicles of which they do not approve. There is nothing unreal about this. There are cases all around Australia, particularly in the building industry, where people have been required to put money into a fund organised by a trade union and the requirement to put the money into the fund has been arrived at by force.

Mr Robert Brown —That is recognised as a good fund.

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member says that that is recognised as a good fund. It is not clear to me that the employers, who were required by bullying on sites and by intimidation, and the employees who were required to become members of the union in the first place by intimidation and who were required to participate in a fund by intimidation, are paying into a good fund. This is a matter of fundamental civil rights. If Government members believe that it is correct to force people in this manner, they simply do not understand what the Australian community is all about. I have investigated the way in which these funds have been set up. I have talked to people, to contractors on sites who were threatened with being put out of business if they did not force their employees to do this. I have spoken to contractors on sites who are required to contribute to these funds under threat of being put out of business. Do members on the Government side deny that this has been the case?

People talk about agreement being reached between employers and unions within the building industry about the setting up of these funds. That agreement is arrived at under threat of loss of livelihood by those employers and the people working with them. I have chapter and verse on that. I have in fact appeared on public platforms, particularly in Queensland, with people who have been prepared to substantiate this in public, not under privilege, and in the presence of trade union leaders who have come along to the meetings to interject and heckle. They have been answered by people who have been prepared to quote chapter and verse what actually happened on sites and in working situations.

We are fighting for basic human rights, the right of every person to plan for his retirement in a way in which he would want to; the rights of employers to contribute out of the profits and earnings of a business to provide for their employees safeguards in retirement in a way which they deem to be appropriate. The building union superannuation scheme in particular, set up by the building unions, is hardly an appropriate vehicle. Heaven forbid! Would most people freely choose to put their money into a fund controlled by unions that have the appalling industrial history of the building unions? Who on earth would know, over the period of 10, 20 or 30 years of the currency of these funds, how their management was going to be handled? Do people really have confidence that the continuity of management of those funds and the direction of them by the unions will be sufficient to safeguard their nest egg for their retirement? The fact of the matter is that if this matter is subjected to free, honest and open choice, those funds would not exist or, alternatively, they would exist in a much reduced form. The funds are there because of trade union thuggery and intimidation on building sites.

Mr Hurford —You have no substantiation for that.

Mr CARLTON —The Minister for Community Services says that I have no substantiation of that. That is absolutely incorrect. I have talked to the people concerned. If the Minister does not know what is happening on the sites and if he does not know the link-ups between the unions and the managers of the fund, he does not know what is going on on the sites.

Mr Campbell —When were you last on a building site?

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member for Kalgoorlie ought to understand--

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member will not respond to interjections. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie will cease interjecting.

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member for Kalgoorlie says that I have never been on a building site. He ought to know--

Mr Nehl —He is wrong, totally wrong.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member for Cowper will cease interjecting.

Mr Nehl —I have only just started.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! I warn the honourable member for Cowper.

Mr CARLTON —The honourable member for Kalgoorlie and other honourable members opposite throw these interjections and accusations in willy-nilly.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! The honourable member for Kalgoorlie has been called to order. The honourable member for Mackellar should address himself to clause 3 which is before the Committee at present.

Mr CARLTON —Mr Chairman, I thank you for your intervention, but the honourable member for Kalgoorlie has raised a point which is quite pertinent to this--

The CHAIRMAN —All interjections are out of order.

Mr CARLTON —I will ignore what the honourable member for Kalgoorlie said and merely say on this clause that I have certainly had a background in industry, in engineering works and in site works over a number of years. I have been on to sites and I know how they work. I know exactly how they have worked in more recent times and have talked very closely to the people involved. Members on the opposite side cannot deny what goes on in the building industry in Australia. Heaven forbid! Their own Government moved to deregister one of the unions and the other main union is not much better. These unions in this industry have forced employers and employees to put the workers' nest eggs into funds controlled by unions in which they have no confidence.

The purpose of this amendment is to say, quite simply, that where a fund draws its funds as a result of coercion on sites and where there is not an agreement between the employee and the employer on the money going there in the first place, that fund, quite correctly, does not enjoy the tax concessions which are available to legitimate superannuation funds. What could be fairer than that? It is purely a question of people agreeing that their own life savings will go into a particular place. If they do not agree, that fund cannot be regarded as legitimate and enjoy the tax privileges that superannuation funds quite properly enjoy.