The majority voted against an amendment to reduce the quorum requirement contained in the Governance of Australian Government Superannuation Schemes Bill 2011, which was introduced by Liberal Party Senator Mathias Cormann.
A quorum requirement is the number of board members that need to be present at a board meeting before the meeting can conduct any business. If there are not enough board members to make up a quorum, no decisions can be made.
Someone who voted Aye supported the amendment to reduce the quorum requirement. The majority voted No, so the amendment was unsuccessful.
Debate in Parliament
The amendment would have reduced the quorum requirement from nine out of the eleven directors to eight out of the eleven. Senator Cormann argued that the amendment was necessary because the current quorum requirement was “extraordinarily high”.(See Senator Cormann's contribution and the associated debate here. ) He explained that this quorum requirement created a situation where the three Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) directors “could act on bloc” because at least one of the three must attend for the board meeting to reach quorum. By reducing the quorum requirement to eight, “the ACTU by themselves would not be able to make the operations of the board unworkable”.
The Labor Government did not support the amendment. Labor Party Senator Nicholas Sherry said that there are safeguards in place to deal with the issues raised by Senator Cormann.(See Senator Sherry's contribution and the associated debate here. )
Background to the Bill
The Bill is part of a package of three bills.(More information about this bill and the context surrounding it can be found here. The text of the proposed amendment can be found here.) It creates the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation by merging the Australian Reward Investment Alliance, the Military Superannuation and Benefits Board and the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Authority. The purpose of these changes is to modernise Australian Government superannuation and make it more consistent with the broader superannuation industry.