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Tuesday, 6 March 1984
Page: 489

Senator HARRADINE —by leave-This statement follows the statement made by the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Chipp, and the statement made by the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Walsh. I am disappointed that the motion by Senator Chipp for all of the information to be supplied from the Australian Taxation Office has not been successful. I, like Senator Chipp, do not wish to impugn public servants because they are dedicated officers, but what we want to see is the actual advice that is given and the detailed information on which this advice has been formed. We do not have that. We have some examples --

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle —One example.

Senator HARRADINE —We have one example. We do not have other examples. I reiterate that what the Government is doing here is virtually saying: 'Well, there have been these schemes. They have been devised improperly'. That is why I asked Senator Walsh what he meant by the word 'improperly'. He said that ' improper' in that context meant that employees who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of these schemes have been deprived of the benefits and those benefits have been cherry-picked by the managers of the schemes. The answer of the Government to that problem is: Tax the cherry-pickers. Well, where does that leave the employees? Where does that leave the workers who have been deprived of the benefits of these particular superannuation fund schemes? It is no satisfaction at all for them to see the Taxation Office get a bit of extra money .

I would have liked to have had, and expected to have had, the benefit of further information which would be available to the Commissioner of Taxation and which would now be available to the Senate if Senator Chipp's motion were adopted. Failing that information I am proposing an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill, most certainly not for the purposes about which Senator Walsh has made comment, but to ensure that those who have been deprived of the benefits are, in some way, compensated for the loss of those benefits. There are various ways of doing this. Senator Walsh said that the employees in many cases did not know of the existence of the superannuation fund. That is very true. I know that for a fact.

Senator Watson —Every trustee should know. There is a requirement that the Commissioner will approve, that every trustee must be informed.

Senator Archer —Only if he contributes.

Senator HARRADINE —No, it is not only if one contributes. The Taxation Office will inform one that in the appropriate forms there must be, as I understand it, a provision which refers to the fact that the beneficiaries, the employees covered, have been advised of the existence of the schemes. As I understand it- the Minister can correct me if I am wrong-that is the situation.

Senator Elstob —They are all supposed to be advised about all the dangerous chemicals and those sorts of things, but you know they are not.

Senator HARRADINE —The point I am making is that here is a situation where we have had the managers of the scheme acting-I do not know whether fraudulently is the word--

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle — Improperly.

Senator HARRADINE —Certainly acting improperly and the workers who are supposed to be the beneficiaries getting nothing. They are still going to get nothing if we pass this legislation. Therefore, I will now have to retire and consider what will be the appropriate amendment to the second reading motion so as to ensure that the workers get something, and not just the Taxation Office.