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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3418

Senator BISHOP —I refer the Minister representing the Treasurer to the commitment made by the Treasurer concerning the proposed new taxation arrangements for superannuation announced in May 1988 and, further, to the statement of the Treasurer on 25 May that the new arrangements could be put in place without diminishing any personal end benefit by 1c. Can the Minister confirm to the Senate that, as a result of the proposed new taxes, not one single superannuant will be worse off now or in the future?

Senator WALSH —Again, I am amazed that Senator Puplick has not taken a point of order on a question which is unequivocally and directly related to Bills which are on the Notice Paper and might well be debated later in the day. I presume the reason Senator Puplick has not taken a point of order is that he is frightened that Senator Bishop will bump him down to No. 4 on the Senate ticket instead of No. 3 if he stands up to her. However, I will not try to have the question ruled out of order on the grounds that it very clearly is out of order.

Senator Bishop might be able to find a handful of people who have been disadvantaged; I do not know. But what she ought to concentrate on is the damage which her stupid, ill-considered amendments will do to superannuation policy, investment in the Australian economy, employment creation, growth and everything else. That is what she ought to consider-the big picture. Having consulted the Hansard of last Thursday, I am now in a position to tell the Senate that Senator Bishop misinformed it again yesterday. She asserted that I did not point out the restricted ambit of her amendments until after 10 o'clock on Thursday night. I in fact pointed it out at 9.30, before she moved her stupid amendments. In her no doubt written speech, which she had been programmed to deliver, she said among other things:

We did not support the Democrats' amendments because they did not go far enough . . .

In fact, the Democrats' amendments, in terms of the ambit of coverage, went further than hers did. I pointed that out as well. One of Senator Bishop's problems is that she comes in here programmed to give some silly, inaccurate speech in support of incompetent amendments and does not even listen to what was said earlier, which reveals quite clearly-even Connolly has now been forced to acknowledge this-that her amendments are defective in the sense of the ambit of their coverage. They are also highly defective in a policy sense.

Senator Bishop —I raise a point of order--

Senator WALSH —Senator Bishop cannot take it, can she? It is all right for her to get up and give turgid speeches about--

The PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Walsh!

Senator Bishop —On a point of order, Mr President, I simply ask the Minister: Can he answer or will he not?

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order, but there is no doubt that the Minister is debating the legislation.

Senator WALSH —Senator Bishop thinks that it is clever to come into the Senate and spread scurrilous stories about alleged electoral malpractice in some obscure New South Wales by-election, but she cannot take it when she gets it back again, even though she begs for it.

The PRESIDENT —Order, Senator Walsh!

Senator Chaney —On a point of order, Mr President: I ask the Minister to withdraw.

The PRESIDENT —I did not hear anything that was unparliamentary.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, the Minister accused the honourable senator of scurrilous behaviour and that is clearly unparliamentary.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Walsh, I did not hear you say anything unparliamentary, but if you did say that the honourable senator was guilty of scurrilous action, I ask you to withdraw.

Senator WALSH —I think what I actually said was that she repeated a scurrilous story, but I am happy to withdraw it, Mr President, if you request me to. I do not know whether Senator Bishop can find a handful of people who, on a superficial examination, might have been adversely affected. However, I might add that one of the pluses of the present high interest rates regime is that the people who have investments or some holding in funds which are overwhelmingly concentrated on interest bearing securities will have reaped quite substantial windfall gains over the last six months or so. I am not saying that therefore it is a good thing that, for a variety of reasons, the Government has had to have a tight monetary policy which has pushed up interest rates. Nevertheless, it is a fact that people who are associated with those sorts of funds would have reaped very substantial windfall gains from the recent high interest rates. I do not know whether Senator Bishop can produce a handful of people who, superficially, may have been disadvantaged by that, but I recommend that she look at the bigger picture and at what her amendments will do. They will encourage Australian superannuation funds to invest in foreign businesses instead of Australian businesses. They will encourage them to invest in the central business district--

Senator Chaney —I raise a point of order, Mr President. The Minister is treating the chamber and you, Mr President, with contempt. You have drawn him to order and have told him that he is debating the question. He has continued to do so and has reopened it. I ask you to call him to order and to sit him down.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The Minister has started to debate the legislation again. I ask him to finalise his answer.

Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr President. If Senator Chaney does not like this, it is not my fault. It is not my fault that one of the lightweights who got bumped onto the front bench because she sold a vote insists on leading with her chin. That is not my fault: he should do something about it within his own Party.

Senator Chaney —I rise on a point of order, Mr President. I ask you whether you are going to allow this Minister to continue his abuse.

The PRESIDENT —Order! It is a clear imputation and I ask Senator Walsh to withdraw it.

Senator WALSH —I withdraw, Mr President.