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Tuesday, 8 October 1985
Page: 807

Senator SIDDONS(4.32) —by leave-I move:

Page 2, paragraph 4 (b), line 9, leave out `` `fortnightly rate of salary' '', insert `` `Trust' or `Investment Trust' ''.

Page 2, paragraph 4 (b), line 11, leave out ``full-time''.

Pages 4 and 5, paragraph 7 (1) (a), proposed new sub-section 30 (1), paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d), line 38 (page 4) to line 3 (page 5), leave out the paragraphs, insert the following paragraphs:

``(a) a full-time principal member nominated by the Minister;

(b) a full-time member nominated, in accordance with sub-section (4), by the Australian Council of Trade Unions; and

(c) 3 part-time members elected, in accordance with the regulations, by all eligible employees by secret ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission.''.

Page 5, paragraph 7 (1) (a), after proposed new sub-section 30 (1), add the following sub-section:

`` `(1A) The regulations made for the purpose of paragraph (1) (c) shall prescribe for elections held under that paragraph a system of election which is, as near as is practicable, the same as the Hare-Clark proportional representation system set out in Schedule 4 of the Electrical Act 1907 of Tasmania.'.''.

Page 5, paragraph 7 (1) (b), proposed new sub-section 30 (3), lines 6 to 8, leave out the sub-section, insert the following new sub-sections:

``(3) The members nominated under paragraphs (1) (a) and (b) shall be persons with knowledge and expertise in finance, industrial relations, superannuation and investment.

``(3A) The persons elected under paragraph (1) (c)-

(a) shall be nominated by no less than 200 eligible employees; and

(b) shall provide, at the time of their nomination, a written statement of their knowledge and expertise in the matters referred to in sub-section (3).''.

Page 5, paragraphs 7 (1) (c) and 7 (1) (d), lines 13 to 17, leave out the paragraphs, insert the following new paragraph:

``(c) by omitting sub-section (6) and substituting the following sub-section:

`(6) Each member of the Trust shall hold office for 5 years.';''.

Page 5, paragraph 7 (1) (c) and 7 (1) (e), line 19, leave out ``full-time''.

Page 5, sub-clause 7 (4), line 44, leave out ``the member of the Trust referred to in paragraph 30 (1) (d)'', insert ``a member of the Trust referred to in paragraph 30 (1) (c)''.

Page 6, after sub-clause 7 (4), insert the following new sub-clause:

``(4A) Sub-section 30 (6) of the Principal Act is amended by this section shall have effect in respect of each member of the Trust appointed after the commencement of this Act.''.

Page 6, clause 8, proposed new sub-section 30B (1), line 18, leave out ``full-time''.

Page 7, clause 8, proposed new paragraph 30B (8) (b), line 10, leave out ``full-time''.

Page 7, paragraph 9 (a), line 14, leave out ``full-time''.

Page 7, clause 10, lines 19 and 21, leave out ``full-time'' (twice occurring).

Page 9, paragraph 13 (d), line 20, leave out ``full-time''.

Page 10, clause 14, proposed new sub-sections 36 (2) and (3), leave out ``full-time'' (wherever occurring).

Page 10, clause 14, proposed new sub-section 36 (4), lines 20 to 23, leave out ``the full-time union-nominated member, or as a part-time member referred to in paragraph 30 (1) (c)'', insert ``the union-nominated member''.

Page 10, clause 14, proposed new sub-section 36 (9), lines 39 and 42, leave out ``full-time'' (twice occurring).

In spite of the Government's comments that the Australian Council of Trade Unions would not get de facto control of Commonwealth superannuation funds, we are not convinced. We are not suggesting that the present membership of the ACTU would move to nominate a mouthpiece as a trustee. That certainly could happen at some future time if this legislation were passed in its present form. It is just not on as far as the Australian Democrats are concerned to allow through legislation which provides the opportunity for any organisation to get control of funds amounting to $7m a week. We would be falling very seriously short of our responsibility in this place if we were to allow that to happen. In my speech on the Superannuation Legislation Amendment Bill 1985 I indicated that we have no objections to the legislation. We consider it to be vital legislation that should be passed as a matter of urgency. However, we cannot allow the passage of this Bill in its present form which would give an organisation-in this case the ACTU, but it would apply equally to any other body-the opportunity to get control, via the nomination of its own mouthpiece as a trustee, of these enormous amounts of money.

Senator Coates —But only if those people were nominated by the Public Service unions.

Senator SIDDONS —They can be nominated by whomever. That is not the point at issue. They are allowed to be nominated under this legislation. It is just not good enough. The legislation would allow an organisation to get de facto control of these funds at some time in the future. It could not be avoided.

Senator Coates —Do you accept that the Public Service unions represent the contributors?

Senator SIDDONS —My point remains that the legislation would allow an organisation to nominate representatives as trustees who would in turn control these funds. We are not prepared to allow that to happen. I spent some time suggesting who has the right to nominate the trustees. It is a bit like Plato's loaded question: `Who ought to govern?' Who ought to nominate the trustees? One can go right through the options as one likes. One could suggest that the Minister should have the power. One could suggest that a joint parliamentary committee should have the power. But thinking it through, one finds problems in all of those proposals. It is the contributors to the fund whose rights are paramount. Therefore, the question before us, as we see it, is how to make an election of the trustees by the contributors work effectively so that justice can be done and they can have a genuine say in the control of their own funds, their own money.

I have spent considerable time discussing this matter with the ACTU and, in particular, with Mr Mansfield. I was under a certain impression regarding stipulations included in these amendments which cut down the number of nominees and reduced the cost of elections. We suggested originally that elections should be held every two years. We are now suggesting that five years is a more reasonable time span. We do not want the trustees to be appointed for too long because if a bad trustee were appointed it would be very difficult to remove him. We think five years is a reasonable frequency. Under our proposal each candidate would have to be nominated by no less than 200 employees. It would be impossible to get that sort of support for somebody who suddenly decided that he had the qualifications. The fact that the candidate has to specify his qualifications is very important. The Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) related the problems that occurred in regard to elections in 1974. These sorts of stipulations were not in place then. Therefore, I believe that it is unfair and unreasonable to say that, because previous elections were not altogether satisfactory, they cannot be made to work.

Senator Coates has indicated that the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations looked at this matter very carefully and that our representative on the Committee was in favour of the ACTU nominating three of the five trustees. That is not the understanding that ex-Senator Jack Evans had of the recommendation. I have read the recommendations of the Committee and I do not believe that it is clear that the Committee believed that the ACTU was to be given control of these funds because three of the five trustees were to be nominated by the Council. We deny that we clearly understood that.

Senator Coates —It could not be clearer.

Senator SIDDONS —I do not believe that it is clear at all. In any case, our objection remains. There is no way that we can allow this legislation to pass while the ACTU can nominate the majority of the trustees to be appointed. I have moved the amendments as a whole. In the event that they are rejected by the Government, we will have no alternative but to vote against the legislation as a whole.