Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 3 December 1985
Page: 2774

Senator MESSNER —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer him to the Treasurer's speech today to the Euromoney Conference in Melbourne where Mr Keating said that as a matter of broad principle the Government believed that employer and employee groups `should share the responsibilities of fund operation and management'. In that context he was speaking about superannuation funds. Does this mean that existing company schemes will have to be opened up to joint control with the unions? Despite the Treasurer's reference in his speech to possible ceilings on fund assets invested in any one company, what is to stop unions with holdings in a company getting together to exercise effective control of major business organisations?

Senator BUTTON —It is easy to take one paragraph of Mr Keating's speech out of context. If the honourable senator wants me to I will read the lot, but I think that would be unproductive at Question Time. It is quite clear what the Treasurer is saying in his speech. The ratio decidendi-if I might use an expression more likely to be used by my colleagues Senator Durack and Senator Gareth Evans-is simply that the Government is about, as I said in Question Time, negotiating with companies, their representatives and unions about the guidelines which will apply to superannuation schemes under the Government's new proposals, that those negotiations will take place next week, and that a number of things which are listed in the Treasurer's speech are on the agenda for discussion at those meetings. Insofar as company schemes are concerned-as mentioned in the hypothetical situation which Senator Messner referred to-that clearly will be a matter of discussion if it is a matter of concern. I would have thought that the companies and their representatives that will take part in those discussions would be much better placed to represent their interests than Senator Messner.

Senator MESSNER —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. Are we to assume from the Minister's answer that in fact the information that I was seeking is part of the discussions going forward next week with business groups?

Senator BUTTON —Yes, all those issues are subjects for discussion next week and any concerns which people have will be articulated, I have no doubt.

Senator Messner —So it is a union grab?

Senator BUTTON —No, it is not a union grab. Senator Messner sought to ask a second supplementary question by way of interjection. I will qualify the previous answer which I gave in this way: If Senator Messner wants to assume those things I say that he is entitled to assume anything. If he does he is walking the plank, and I will make that quite clear to him in the next few weeks.