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 17 MESSAGE FROM THE SENATE—Superannuation (Surcharge Rate Reduction) Amendment Bill 2003

Message No. 337, 7 October 2003, from the Senate was reported returning the Superannuation (Surcharge Rate Reduction) Amendment Bill 2003 with amendments.

Ordered—That the amendments be considered forthwith.

Mr Cameron (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) moved—That amendments Nos 1 to 26 and 28 to 32 be agreed to.

Debate ensued.

Question—put.

The House divided (the Deputy Speaker, Mr Scott, in the Chair)—

AYES, 75

Mr AbbottMr CostelloMr JullMr Schultz
Mr AndersonMr DownerMr KatterMr Secker
Mr K. J. AndrewsMrs DraperMrs D. M. KellyMr Slipper
Mr AnthonyMr DuttonMrs LeyMr A. D. H. Smith
Fran BaileyMrs ElsonMr LindsayMr Somlyay
Mr BairdMr EntschMr LloydDr Southcott
Mr BaldwinMr FarmerMr McArthur*Dr Stone
Mr BarresiMr Forrest*Mr I. E. MacfarlaneMr Ticehurst
Mr BartlettMrs GallusMr McGauranMr Tollner
Mr BillsonMs GambaroMrs MayMr Truss
Mrs B. K. BishopMrs Gash*Mrs MoylanMr Tuckey
Ms J. I. BishopMr HaaseMr NairnMr M. A. J. Vaile
Mr BroughMr HardgraveDr NelsonMrs D. S. Vale
Mr CadmanMr Hartsuyker*Ms PanopoulosMr Wakelin
Mr CameronMr HawkerMr PearceDr Washer
Mr CausleyMr HockeyMr ProsserMr Williams
Mr CharlesMrs HullMr PyneMr Windsor
Mr CioboMr HuntMr RandallMs Worth
Mr CobbMr JohnsonMr Ruddock

NOES, 58

Mr AdamsMr L. D. T. FergusonMr LathamMr Ripoll
Mr AlbaneseMr M. J. FergusonMs LivermoreMs Roxon
Mr AndrenMs GeorgeMr McClellandMr Rudd
Mr BeazleyMr GibbonsMs J. S. McFarlaneMr Sawford
Mr BevisMs GillardMs MacklinMr Sciacca
Mr BreretonMs GriersonMr McLeayMr Sercombe*
Ms BurkeMr GriffinMr McMullanMr Sidebottom
Mr ByrneMs HallMr MelhamMr S. F. Smith
Ms CorcoranMr HattonMr MossfieldMr Swan
Mr CoxMs HoareMr MurphyMr Tanner
Mrs CrosioMrs Irwin*Mr B. P. O'ConnorMr K. J. Thomson
Mr Danby*Ms JacksonMr G. M. O'ConnorMr Wilkie
Mr EdwardsMr JenkinsMs PlibersekMr Zahra
Ms EllisMr KerrMr Price
Mr EvansMs C. F. KingMr Quick*

* Tellers

And so it was resolved in the affirmative.

Mr Cameron moved—That amendment No. 27 be disagreed to.

Debate ensued.

Question—put.

The House divided (the Deputy Speaker, Mr Causley, in the Chair)—

AYES, 75

Mr AbbottMr DownerMr KatterMr Scott
Mr AndersonMrs DraperMrs D. M. KellyMr Secker
Mr K. J. AndrewsMr DuttonMrs LeyMr Slipper
Mr AnthonyMrs ElsonMr LindsayMr A. D. H. Smith
Fran BaileyMr EntschMr LloydMr Somlyay
Mr BairdMr FarmerMr McArthur*Dr Southcott
Mr BaldwinMr Forrest*Mr I. E. MacfarlaneDr Stone
Mr BarresiMrs GallusMr McGauranMr Ticehurst
Mr BartlettMs GambaroMrs MayMr Tollner
Mr BillsonMrs Gash*Mrs MoylanMr Truss
Mrs B. K. BishopMr HaaseMr NairnMr Tuckey
Ms J. I. BishopMr HardgraveDr NelsonMr M. A. J. Vaile
Mr BroughMr Hartsuyker*Ms PanopoulosMrs D. S. Vale
Mr CadmanMr HawkerMr PearceMr Wakelin
Mr CameronMr HockeyMr ProsserDr Washer
Mr CharlesMrs HullMr PyneMr Williams
Mr CioboMr HuntMr RandallMr Windsor
Mr CobbMr JohnsonMr RuddockMs Worth
Mr CostelloMr JullMr Schultz

NOES, 56

Mr AlbaneseMr EvansMs C. F. KingMr Quick*
Mr AndrenMr M. J. FergusonMr LathamMr Ripoll
Mr BeazleyMs GeorgeMs LivermoreMs Roxon
Mr BevisMr GibbonsMr McClellandMr Rudd
Mr BreretonMs GillardMs J. S. McFarlaneMr Sawford
Ms BurkeMs GriersonMs MacklinMr Sciacca
Mr ByrneMr GriffinMr McLeayMr Sercombe*
Ms CorcoranMs HallMr MelhamMr Sidebottom
Mr CoxMr HattonMr MossfieldMr S. F. Smith
Mrs CrosioMs HoareMr MurphyMr Swan
Mr Danby*Mrs Irwin*Mr B. P. O'ConnorMr Tanner
Mr EdwardsMs JacksonMr G. M. O'ConnorMr K. J. Thomson
Ms EllisMr JenkinsMs PlibersekMr Wilkie
Mr EmersonMr KerrMr PriceMr Zahra

* Tellers

And so it was resolved in the affirmative.

Mr Cameron presented reasons, which were circulated, and are as follows:

Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendment of the Senate

Amendment 27

This amendment would amend the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993to insert a definition of `partner', alter the definitions of `dependant' and `spouse', and alter the covenants included in governing rules of superannuation funds to specifically deal with same-sex relationships.

The superannuation surcharge rate reduction measure is aimed at removing the disincentive facing those individuals able to save for their retirement. Therefore the House considers that the measure being dealt with by this Bill only applies to an individual. The measure does not distinguish between eligible individuals in same-sex relationships or any other relationships. The surcharge rate reduction will benefit a surchargeable gay or lesbian person, as it will a surchargeable married or single heterosexual person. Therefore the House considers that this amendment is not necessary because there is no possible discrimination in respect of the operation of this Bill.

On the broader issue of payment of death benefits, superannuation fund trustees can already take into account same-sex partners when distributing death benefits, as they do with other dependent relationships. The Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993already provides that superannuation funds may cash the benefits of a deceased member in favour of either or both the member's legal personal representative or one or more of the member's dependants. A dependant is ordinarily interpreted to include those partly financially dependent or financially inter-dependent with the member. Therefore, same-sex partners can usually access the death benefits of their partner where the dependency test is met and the House considers that this amendment is not necessary.

Additionally, where cohabiting persons have joint financial commitments, and financial dependency is shown, the death benefits paid to the partner of the deceased member are concessionally taxed. This is the same concessional tax treatment that is afforded to any dependant, whether they are husband or wife, same-sex partner, parent or child of the deceased. Also then for this reason the House considers that this amendment is not necessary.

On the motion of Mr Cameron, the reasons were adopted.