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Monday, 16 September 1985
Page: 589

Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce)(8.21) —I apologise to Senator Lewis in relation to footnote 16 to the 1984 accounts. The position is as he says-broadly that the qualifications to the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation accounts with regard to superannuation was outside that body's control and within the responsibility of the Department of Finance. Those decisions by the Department of Finance were finally made in 1984-85. The qualifications regarding terms and conditions of employment referred to are only a minor matter in relation to the employment of locals on overseas projects. The contributions by SMEC to the Commonwealth superannuation fund were increased from 15 per cent to 21.9 per cent as from 1 July 1984. That is what has happened as a result of the matter raised in the footnote referred to by Senator Lewis.

I ought to indicate an attitude to the amendments to be moved by the Opposition. The Government will not accept the addition of sub-sections (3) and (4) to proposed new section 18 for very much the same reasons as Senator Siddons advanced in the course of his comments; namely, that it seems to me to be an incredible sort of bureaucratic interference in the affairs of what is, essentially, an independent statutory corporation which has a wide range of management and business authority vested in it.

With regard to the addition of sub-section (3), we do not think that is necessary in terms of the wording of the legislation as a whole, but we will not divide against the amendment if it includes an expression to the effect that the Corporation will not join in the formation of a partnership or a company, et cetera, without the approval of the Minister. I do not know whether that is suitable to the mover of the motion, but if words to that effect are included, the Government will not divide against the amendment.

The amendment to clause 8-proposed new section 52-states: `after paragraph (b), insert the following word and paragraph . . .' The Government will not vote against that amendment.