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Tuesday, 8 October 1985
Page: 814

Senator COATES(5.17) —I suppose it has to be said again: The thickness of Senator Messner's arguments continually amazes me.

Senator Button —The thickness of Senator Messner amazes me.

Senator COATES —Well, he has slimmed down a bit. He continually shows his blind spot about the Australian Council of Trade Unions. He describes various organisations, the Securities Institute of Australia, the Bankers Association of Australia, the Life Insurance Federation of Australia and others as prestigious organisations. Presumably he knows some of the people involved with them and can therefore vouch for their prestige. But he damns an organisation such as the ACTU, because in his view it is not a prestigious organisation. He just has a blind spot about that organisation, presumably because it represents so many people in Australia; but in particular it represents the contributors to the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust. It is the means by which the Public Service unions have their peak representation, and they are the people who represent the contributors. It is just ridiculous for the Opposition to propose in the amendment that these organisations be consulted, because they are by no means representative of the contributors. In fact, one could say that in many ways they could be opposed to the interests of the contributors. Of course, they are the sorts of conservative organisations which Senator Messner would support, and that is indicated by the fact that he referred to the men that they would suggest to the Minister. I hope that the ACTU will include amongst its nominees a representative proportion of women as well. It would not even occur either to Senator Messner or the so-called prestigious organisations he mentioned to do that.

Senator Messner keeps referring to the interests and the sorts of people that the ACTU might nominate and the sorts of individuals that he suggests were associated with ACTU enterprises, which is a completely separate idea from the appointment of trustees for the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust. The people suggested by the industrial organisations concerned, the Public Service unions, and nominated by the ACTU on their behalf, do not actually have to be members of those organisations. I would be surprised if the ACTU did not nominate experienced investment people from commerce and industry, perhaps even including people that Senator Messner might approve of. Of course, it is proposed in the Government's Bill that they be nominated by the ACTU. For Senator Messner to think that they would all therefore be union secretaries is just ridiculous. That deals with part (c) of Senator Messner's amendment No. 1.

Moving back to part (b), he concedes that one of the five members could be nominated by the Minister after consultation with employees' associations representative of contributors of the fund. Even though he concedes that the contributors can have one member, he still cannot bring himself to mention the ACTU. He refers to `employees' associations representative of contributors of the Fund'. How that consultation would happen, I do not know. There are 30 or 40 organisations-perhaps 60-representative of Public Service contributors to the fund. How on earth is the Minister going to have reasonable and fair consultations with all those organisations? Of course, it should be done through their peak body which, whether or not he likes it, is the ACTU.

Dealing with part (a) of Senator Messner's main proposed amendment, he suggests that there be only one full time member who would be nominated by the Minister. I should point out that it has been generally agreed by all those involved with this whole issue that there need to be two full time members of the Trust to ensure that broad expertise is available. One may be particularly involved with investment, and one may have been particularly involved with superannuation, and so forth; whereas to have only one full time principal member does not allow for that broad, full time expertise and would also lead to the sorts of problems which have occurred with having only one full time member on the existing Trust in that when that member was away on leave or otherwise unavailable there was no full time deputy to step into his shoes. Having two full time members allows for that full time deputy to be fully involved and to act as the principal member while the principal member is unavailable. For those reasons, and for all the reasons that we have been through before in this debate, I oppose the amendments proposed by the Opposition.