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Wednesday, 17 November 1993
Page: 2996


Senator WATSON (12 noon) —How can Senator Sherry, with any degree of confidence, try to prejudge in every circumstance how the tribunal is going to take the argument and disallow any double jeopardy payment? After all, my amendment seeks to prevent double jeopardy and protect payments that are made in good faith on presentation of proper documentation. I cannot imagine that there will be hundreds of these situations, but there will be some. The consequences in a lot of other situations will be that, if there is a doubt, trustees will delay and deny payments because of the waiting time between now and, not only 1 July, but whenever they have time to consider a whole long list of complainants after 1 July.

  If Senator Sherry can give that assurance with any authority, referring to the act, I will withdraw my amendment. But the whole purpose of my amendment is to make sure that these people are not disadvantaged and that trustees are not placed in this invidious position. We do not want the trustees to be the nasty men denying payment; we want to facilitate the role of trustees and to give them appropriate status. We do not want a situation where they can be sued by other members for not taking due diligence and care.

  As a former trustee, Senator Sherry would not like to be put in that position by his existing members for not taking that degree of care and making a payment perhaps earlier than he should have. There would be a lot of his colleagues in a similar position who are good members, good trustees of superannuation funds, who themselves could be personally liable if the tribunal, effectively, made a double payment which, under the terms of the legislation as it now stands, they could be obliged to pay.