Take Note of Answers - Superannuation

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:21): The submissions of the opposition senators are quite mad. Unfortunately, Labor senators just do not get it. They do not understand that we were all sent here for a purpose, and that is to represent the people who elected us and to make submissions on and devise policy. The Labor Party, by contrast, and in the famous words of Senator Doug Cameron—never has he spoken a truer word than when he indicated this about all Labor senators—were just 'lobotomised zombies'. Do you remember that? There is one walking out, and there are a few others taking part in this debate. They are lobotomised zombies because they were just meant to sit there and take it—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Macdonald. Senator O'Neill?

Senator O'Neill: Madam Deputy President, I think that those sentiments were completely out of order in terms of parliamentary standards, and I seek that the senator withdraw those comments directed at senators on this side of the chamber.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, I think there is a robust debate going on—

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Can I make a submission on the point of order? I think that is allowable.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: The words I have used are not mine. They are words of Labor Senator Doug Cameron, repeated in this chamber very often in the last parliament by Senator Cameron. So they are not my words, they are Senator Doug Cameron's. If anyone has to withdraw, it should be Senator Doug Cameron.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Macdonald. As I said, this is a broad-ranging, robust debate. I would ask all senators to consider, in regard to their language, what is reasonable in robust debate. I would also remind senators to please use the proper names of senators and members both in this place and the other place.

Senator Urquhart: Deputy President, on the point of order, Senator Macdonald actually referred to Senator Polley as she was leaving the chamber, and I would therefore ask him to withdraw that.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Macdonald, do you wish to make a point?

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Again, they were Senator Doug Cameron's words, not mine. As I said that to Senator Polley as she was leaving, she turned around and blew me a kiss. Perhaps that is also unparliamentary, if you are going to get down to this ridiculous minutiae.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you. Senators, I have made my views known. It is robust debate. Please let us have it within the general terms of what we all understand a robust debate to be. Senator Macdonald, continue your remarks.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Again, I repeat the words of Labor Senator Doug Cameron, who referred to his colleagues as 'lobotomised zombies', meaning that they were just meant to sit there in the Labor party room and take whatever the unions had told the leadership and the leadership then told the lobotomised zombies. They were expected not to have a view, not to be able to put an argument and not to disagree with the leadership, who were being instructed by the unions, whereas in our party we are encouraged to contribute to the debate, and I for one, like Senator Back, was one of those who had concerns about this superannuation policy.

You might recall it was announced on budget night, so there was no prediscussion in the joint party room, because you cannot do that, obviously, with budget measures, and not long after the budget the parliament was prorogued and we went to an election. I did not really understand it. I came down to Canberra one day after the election and I spent four hours with Treasury officials going through every element of the proposed changes so that I could make myself aware of what they were, and I came to the conclusion that two of the elements of the package could be deemed to be retrospective. Now, retrospectivity is anathema to the Liberal Party and always will be. I describe retrospectivity as something where people had planned a course of action, had put that course of action into place and then, through a subsequent government decision that was backdated, they were disadvantaged in what they were doing.

I formed that view and I told Mr Morrison that was my view and I indicated that if these things came to the chamber I would be expressing those views and acting accordingly in the chamber, and I know a lot of my colleagues did. Mr Morrison, to his eternal credit, and Ms O'Dwyer, the Assistant Treasurer, went around Australia talking to people and consulting and working through different issues with senators and members. As a result of that, they have come up with a slightly altered position which is still great for superannuants. It is still saving the budget money, the budget that Labor completely stuffed up. It ran up a debt that would have approached something like $700 billion. We are paying—what is it?—$45 million a day in interest on Labor's debt. So it has been good for the budget. It has been a good tweaking, a very minor tweaking, that does away with the retrospective elements that I was concerned about, and that others were clearly concerned about, and I give Mr Morrison and Ms O'Dwyer every congratulation for the collegial way that they dealt with their colleagues, listened to their colleagues and listened to the industry.

These were not the ideas of just me and all my colleagues. We were reflecting views given to us by the general public—and that is what we are here to do. But Labor Party senators, by contrast—the lobotomised zombies, according to Labor Senator Doug Cameron—are just meant to sit there, look dumb and take whatever is given to them by their leadership, and that is obviously influenced by what the unions tell the leadership. There is a complete contrast. Labor belt on about these subjects but they just do not understand. They do not get that on our side of parliament we are individuals. We are able to make submissions, and the government works with us to make sure we get the right result, which we have now. (Time expired)

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