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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6146

Mr HART (Bass) (13:25): We've just had the most extraordinary contribution from my friend. He must live in an alternative reality if he honestly and truly believes that the coalition is the workers' friend. Clearly, if you judge them by their actions rather than their words, the coalition are no friends of workers in this place. If they were friends of workers, they would vote immediately for restoration of penalty rates.

I rise to speak on the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Bill 2018. Whilst Labor is broadly supportive of the measures in this bill, we will reserve our position as to whether any amendments are required until after the Senate Economics Legislation Committee inquiry into the bill has reported. There are some important issues addressed in this bill. Chief amongst these is this government's response with respect to the problem of unpaid superannuation. There are many within our communities who have been ripped off by their employers. Unpaid super is a massive problem which affects all of us in that, if employees are not receiving their full pay and entitlements, this means that families and communities miss out. This, of course, disproportionately affects the low paid and those in insecure work. There is an estimate that 2.4 million workers are losing a combined $5.6 billion in payments each year. That is equivalent to a worker losing $2,000 per year. This is money which should be applied to their retirement savings. The practice which has arisen of not paying super despite a legal obligation is to be absolutely condemned. This amounts to wage theft. Superannuation is part of a worker's pay and conditions, something that was fought for by a Labor government. In fact, those opposite argued against it. Employers are required by law to pay superannuation. This government could have taken action earlier. It is disappointing that the government has taken so long to take action.

The bill contains nine schedules. Schedules 1 to 6 deal with superannuation guarantee integrity. Schedule 7 deals with information sharing. Schedule 8 deals with miscellaneous matters. Schedule 9 deals with deductible gift recipients. Schedules 1 to 6 and the measures in those schedules implement several recommendations contained in the Superannuation Guarantee Cross-Agency Working Group's report to strengthen compliance with taxation and superannuation guarantee obligations. The package implements changes to allow the tax commissioner, in circumstances where an employer fails to comply with the superannuation guarantee obligations, to issue directions to pay unpaid superannuation guarantee and undertake superannuation guarantee education courses. Failure to comply with a direction can result in criminal penalties.

There is also an important amendment to facilitate the disclosure by the tax commissioner of information about superannuation guarantee noncompliance to the employers' employees—that is, the person or people who are affected. It also extends Single Touch Payroll reporting to all employers. It facilitates more regular reporting by superannuation funds. It improves the operation of the commissioner's collection and compliance measures and streamlines employee commencement processes. The power to issue a direction to an employer either to pay an outstanding superannuation guarantee liability or to undertake an approved course is new, with no existing equivalent. The power to disclose information about superannuation guarantee noncompliance to affected employees is likewise a new provision. There is an appropriate limitation upon sharing of information in that it cannot relate to the general financial affairs of the employer. The extension of Single Touch Payroll reporting is to extend—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 43. The debate may be resumed at a later hour, and the member for Bass will have leave to continue.