Superannuation Administration Corporation (Pillar) (Authorised Transaction) Bill 2016

10th May 2016

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 19:18 :34 ): I refer to the Superannuation Administration Corporation (Pillar) (Authorised Transaction) Bill 2016. I note that the Treasurer is in the Chamber as we draw to the conclusion of this debate. I was moved to speak on this bill because the member for Cessnock spoke to me about the proposed Opposition amendments. I have listened carefully to the debate and I note the passion of members representing areas around the Illawarra, including obviously the member for Keira who led for the Opposition, and members representing the electorates of Kiama, Shellharbour, Wollongong and others who very proudly fight for their areas. I note that not long ago we had lots of debate in this Chamber and action was taken by the Government of the day to assist BlueScope Steel to retain its workforce within the Illawarra.

We are now talking about one more part of the privatisation agenda of this Government. The member for Swansea did a good job listing the extensive transactions. This one was not one that would have been on the radar of most people. However, we have had the ghost of Eric Roozendaal thrust upon us again by the member for Heffron, and if we had looked at that perhaps it would have been more obvious. I would imagine that Pillar in the Illawarra would be in the top five employers with its 700 employees. I would imagine Illawarra Health would possibly be the largest employer followed by BlueScope Steel, but 700 employees is large and would result in 3,000 directly affected people if we take into account, husbands, wives and children, and other dependents.

The debate from the Opposition was largely loaded as if it were an argument against the bill in its entirety and it was opposing the intention to allow for the transfer of Pillar to the private sector, yet the Opposition accepts that this will be passed and it is foreshadowing a number of amendments. I generally agree that the Opposition amendments have merit, particularly in relation to employment guarantees. One amendment proposes to omit "two years" and insert "five years" instead. When we are talking about the superannuation of people, their sick leave, annual leave, long service leave and position in the community with a job, that employment guarantee going to five years would be greatly welcomed. That is not inconsistent with what the Government has done in the past in relation to other transactions, and I believe that should be supported.

Proposed Opposition amendment No. 2 refers to transfer payments and states that the Treasurer cannot transfer the employment of a Pillar employee under this section unless at the time of transfer the transferred employee is paid a transfer payment equivalent to 30 weeks of pay at the rate of the employee's base salary, which I believe is also supportable. I have a serious concern with proposed Opposition amendment No. 1, which seeks to change the requirement for Pillar to remain within the Illawarra for 20 years, which is an extraordinary period of time if one accepts that this will be a privatised model. In my view, that can only be seen as trying to frustrate the process, and it is a crude way of doing so.

In relation to the actions of the Government we have often used the term "over-reach", but while I understand the intentions generally of the amendments, proposed Opposition amendment No. 1 is clearly an over-reach and will not be able to be sustained by any private investor in this enterprise. I generally support the Opposition in the other areas that are not only modest but are also sensible amendments that will improve the legislation and the way in which the Government would be viewed when implementing it. I ask the Government to consider that as it progresses this legislation through this Chamber and into the Legislative Council. At this stage I will just grin at the 20 years.

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