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representatives vote 2020-03-23#4

Edited by mackay

on 2020-03-25 09:13:38

Title

  • Bills — Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020, Guarantee of Lending to Small and Medium Enterprises (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020, Australian Business Growth Fund (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020, Assistance for Severely Affected Regions (Special Appropriation) (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020, Structured Finance Support (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020, Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020, Appropriation (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill (No. 2) 2019-2020, Boosting Cash Flow for Employers (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020; Consideration in Detail
  • Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020 and related bills - Consideration in Detail - Superannuation release

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Sharon Bird</p>
  • <p>The House will now consider the bills in detail. In accordance with the resolution agreed earlier, the bills will be taken as a whole. The resolution also provided that any government amendments to the bills that have been circulated be treated as if they have been moved together, any opposition amendments to the bills that may have been circulated be treated as if they have been moved together and any amendments circulated by non-aligned members which have been circulated be treated as if they have been moved together. The question is that the bills be agreed to.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michael Sukkar</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with the [opposition amendments](https://www.openaustralia.org.au/debate/?id=2020-03-23.91.1), which were introduced by Whitlam MP Stephen Jones (Labor). This means that the amendments failed.
  • ### What did the amendments do?
  • Mr Jones [explained the purpose of the amendments](https://www.openaustralia.org.au/debate/?id=2020-03-23.91.1), which relate to provisions that give workers early access to funds from their superannuation. Mr Jones argued that the provisions are "poorly implemented":
  • > *We are advised by the government that 1.6 million applicants are expected to take avail of the new provisions within this schedule. Those 1.6 million applicants will make their application to access superannuation through the myGov portal. [...]*
  • >
  • > *We are deeply concerned because of the mechanisms around which this schedule will operate. The 1.6 million applicants go to myGov, they make their applications through myGov and myGov sends it through to the regulator, who, in this instance, is the ATO—and the ATO is the assessing authority. Most people will think, 'Well, if the ATO is the approving authority, a payment can be easily issued from the ATO'—but this is not the case. The ATO sends a notice to the trustees of the member's superannuation fund, saying, 'Please pay this money into this member's bank account.' That sounds reasonable. The only problem is the superannuation accounts don't have that information. With all the goodwill in the world, the minister might wish they did and the parliament may wish they did, but the simple fact of the matter is they don't. They don't have that information.*
  • >
  • > *[...] Labor's amendments ... ensure that, when the ATO contacts the superannuation fund, and says, 'This fund member is eligible to receive early relief,' the ATO must provide the superannuation fund with all the information that they have that will enable the superannuation fund to make an early release of the funds.*
  • Deakin MP [Michael Sukkar](https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/representatives/deakin/michael_sukkar) (Liberal) responded by saying that "*Our clear advice from Treasury is that this amendment is just completely unnecessary.*"
  • ### What do these bills do?
  • These bills [were introduced to](https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:legislation/billhome/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr6521_ems_84ea9dda-1a44-44b8-878b-68c376cbed56%22;rec=0) "*implement the Government’s economic response to the spread of the Coronavirus, which the Government announced between 12 and 22 March 2020.*" You can find a copy of the bills' text on the bills' homepages by clicking on the bill hyperlinks provided on this page (each bill has its own hyperlink), or read about the Government's intentions with the bill on the [explanatory memorandum](https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:legislation/billhome/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22legislation%2Fems%2Fr6521_ems_84ea9dda-1a44-44b8-878b-68c376cbed56%22;rec=0). Due to the speed with which the bills went through parliament, there is currently no bills digest.
  • <p>I present a supplementary explanatory memorandum to the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Bill 2020.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Stephen Jones</p>
  • <p>I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1)&#160;&#160;&#160;Schedule 13, item 1, page 76 (line 17), at the end of section 303-15, add:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;; and (c)&#160;&#160;&#160;you satisfy that condition because of an application made by you under subregulation 6.19B(1) of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 or subregulation 4.22B(1) of the Retirement Savings Accounts Regulations 1997 before the end of the period of 6 months starting on the day Schedule 13 to the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 commences.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2)&#160;&#160;&#160;Schedule 13, item 6, page 78 (after line 33), at the end of regulation 4.22B, add:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(7)&#160;&#160;&#160;The copy of the determination given to an RSA provider must be accompanied by any information in the Regulator&#8217;s possession that the RSA provider is reasonably likely to require in order to comply with subregulation 4.20B(2) in a prompt manner.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(3)&#160;&#160;&#160;Schedule 13, item 6, page 78 (after line 33), after regulation 4.22B, insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">4.22C Regulator must publish information</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;The Regulator must publish, on the Regulator&#8217;s website, the following information as soon as practicable after the end of each 7 day period that begins after the commencement of this regulation:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of applications made by individuals under subregulation 4.22B(1) during that period;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of determinations made by the Regulator under subregulation 4.22B(3) during that period;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(c)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total amount of benefits in RSAs covered by those determinations;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(d)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of complaints received during that period by the Regulator in relation to applications or determinations made under regulation 4.22B or in relation to compliance with subregulation 4.20B(2).</p>
  • <p class="italic">(4)&#160;&#160;&#160;Schedule 13, item 10, page 81 (after line 17), at the end of regulation 6.19B, add:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(7)&#160;&#160;&#160;The copy of the determination given to a trustee must be accompanied by any information in the Regulator&#8217;s possession that the trustee is reasonably likely to require in order to comply with subregulation 6.17D(3) in a prompt manner.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(5)&#160;&#160;&#160;Schedule 13, item 10, page 81 (after line 17), after regulation 6.19B, insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">6.19C Regulator must publish information</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;&#160;The Regulator must publish, on the Regulator&#8217;s website, the following information as soon as practicable after the end of each 7 day period that begins after the commencement of this regulation:</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(a)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of applications made by individuals under subregulation 6.19B(1) during that period;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(b)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of determinations made by the Regulator under subregulation 6.19B(3) during that period;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(c)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total amount of benefits in regulated superannuation funds and approved deposit funds that are covered by those determinations;</p>
  • <p class="italic">&#160;&#160;(d)&#160;&#160;&#160;the total number of complaints received during that period by the Regulator in relation to applications or determinations made under regulation 6.19B or in relation to compliance with subregulation 6.17D(3).</p>
  • <p>It is the position of the Australian Labor Party that we want to provide support for households, we want to provide support for businesses, and we want to provide support for workers who are about to lose their jobs. We were told by the Treasurer in question time today that, in the coming weeks, up to one million workers are going to find themselves out of work. Labor stands ready to support the government in providing benefits to those workers.</p>
  • <p>The Leader of the Opposition has spelt out in comprehensive detail why the provisions in schedule 13 are a bad idea. They're a bad idea because the government proposes to raid the superannuation savings of workers to make up for the unwillingness it has to fund benefits adequately for workers who are about to lose their job. It is our patriotic obligation to point out a bad idea. The only thing worse than a bad idea is a bad idea that is poorly implemented. Unless Labor's amendments are accepted by the government, this proposal will be poorly implemented.</p>
  • <p>We are advised by the government that 1.6 million applicants are expected to take avail of the new provisions within this schedule. Those 1.6 million applicants will make their application to access superannuation through the myGov portal. Yes, Madam Deputy Speaker, it's the very myGov portal that fell over during its first test this morning. Not only did it fall over; it was unable to cope with the overwhelming number of people who were applying to access Centrelink benefits. But the minister responsible stood in the courtyard a few moments ago and said that this was as a result of a denial-of-service attack. He then had to come into question time a few moments later and said, 'Actually, that was wrong; that was not true.' So Labor have significant concerns&#8212;and we ask the minister to respond to this: how is Labor, how is the opposition, and how, in fact, are the Australian people to have confidence that this measure is going to be properly implemented? Is it going to be a repeat of the bushfire grants all over again, where big announcements are made but they fall over in the implementation?</p>
  • <p>We are deeply concerned because of the mechanisms around which this schedule will operate. The 1.6 million applicants go to myGov, they make their applications through myGov and myGov sends it through to the regulator, who, in this instance, is the ATO&#8212;and the ATO is the assessing authority. Most people will think, 'Well, if the ATO is the approving authority, a payment can be easily issued from the ATO'&#8212;but this is not the case. The ATO sends a notice to the trustees of the member's superannuation fund, saying, 'Please pay this money into this member's bank account.' That sounds reasonable. The only problem is the superannuation accounts don't have that information. With all the goodwill in the world, the minister might wish they did and the parliament may wish they did, but the simple fact of the matter is they don't. They don't have that information.</p>
  • <p>So we have Labor's sensible amendments. If the government seriously wants to make its idea, albeit flawed, work properly, it should accept Labor's amendments. Labor's amendments&#8212;simple; perfect in their simplicity&#8212;ensure that, when the ATO contacts the superannuation fund, and says, 'This fund member is eligible to receive early relief,' the ATO must provide the superannuation fund with all the information that they have that will enable the superannuation fund to make an early release of the funds. We say to the government: accept these amendments; they will make your proposal, albeit flawed, work all the more better.</p>
  • <p>The consequence of not accepting Labor's amendments is that those applicants will go to the superannuation fund and up to 1.6 million Australians, who have been led to believe by the government that they're going to get ready release of their superannuation funds, are going to be frustrated by delay. And I'm not talking about delays of days or even weeks; it could be significant delays. If we are talking about 1.6 million Australians who are going to make an application between now and the end of June this year&#8212;and quite possibly another application a week later&#8212;it will fall over, in the same way that myGov fell over. Accept our reasonable amendments. <i>(Time expired)</i></p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michael Sukkar</p>
  • <p>Our clear advice from Treasury is that this amendment is just completely unnecessary. I must say to the member that the well-established processes for releasing money from super&#8212;there are obviously existing hardship grounds, but there are a range of other cases where there have been non-concessional excess contributions and others that require releases of funds from a member's superannuation account&#8212;are done quite regularly. Of course there's going to be increased demand on the system, but what he is proposing, according to our clear advice from Treasury, makes the provisions less clear and doesn't add anything practically. In the end it will be, of course, our task to make sure that these applications are made and are delivered in an expeditious way. But what the member for Whitlam is proposing does absolutely nothing to assist that process. These are understood processes, and an important part of this entire package is that, wherever possible, we utilise existing delivery and administrative systems.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Adam Bandt</p>
  • <p>I had a matter that I wanted to raise about the government amendments, and I don't think we concluded that issue before going on to the opposition ones. I'm just conscious of the five o'clock deadline.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sharon Bird</p>
  • <p>I just indicate to the member that I haven't put the vote on the government amendments as yet.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Adam Bandt</p>
  • <p>Okay. I will raise that now, and I will be quick. I'm just wondering if the government can explain about its amendments to its bill. Do these amendments extend the coronavirus assistance that's going to be available to students on youth allowance? There are many students on youth allowance who would have been doing a couple of extra shifts to top up their youth allowance. A lot of those shifts have now been cancelled because they're often in the hospitality sector and sometimes in the retail sector. Those people are now going to fall behind. The government's giving some welcome assistance to youth allowance (jobseeker). That's in line with what the Greens have been calling for for some time. I'm wondering if the government can clarify this, especially given that the Prime Minister last night on television, when he was asked whether students are going to be supported, said, 'Yes, students will be supported,' but the bill seems to suggest the opposite. So can the government clarify, before the bill proceeds through here: are students receiving youth allowance going to get the extra coronavirus payment and, if not, why not, given that they may be losing significant amounts of money and may be hurting at the moment and they've still got rent and bills to pay as well?</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Michael Sukkar</p>
  • <p>Very briefly, the amendments moved by the government bring forward waiting period and asset test application rules. This is obviously an evolving pandemic moving very quickly, and the amendments bring forward the application of those two provisions to ensure that payments can be made more expeditiously and that the asset test doesn't apply.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Adam Bandt</p>
  • <p>Very briefly, can the government please confirm that students on youth allowance won't be eligible for the coronavirus assistance, despite the fact the Prime Minister said on television last night they would be? Is it in fact the case that students who have lost income because they've lost their casual work will now not be eligible for the additional assistance? Can the government confirm that&#8212;yes or no? We should be able to get a clear answer about who's covered by this bill, given that we're being asked to vote on it urgently.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Sharon Bird</p>
  • <p>The question before the chair is that the government amendments be agreed to.</p>
  • <p>Question agreed to.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Tony Smith</p>
  • <p>Order! The question is that the opposition amendments be disagreed to.</p>