Government only schedules one of six superannuation Bills for debate

The Government has only listed one of its superannuation Bills for debate in the Senate, with only 5 Senate sitting days until an expected May election.

Despite Ministers repeatedly calling on the Labor party to support the Government’s superannuation legislation, only one superannuation Bill is listed on the Draft Legislation Programme for the Senate for this week. Though if 2018 is any indication, listing a Bill on the schedule doesn’t mean it will actually be debated.

Related: Government fails to advance its superannuation legislation in 2018

The Government has six of its superannuation-related Bills before the Senate. Only the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2018 is listed for debate in the Senate this week.

Update: The Senate notice paper also includes the Treasury Laws Amendment (Improving Accountability and Member Outcomes in Superannuation Measures No. 1) Bill 2017 and the Superannuation Laws Amendment (Strengthening Trustee Arrangements) Bill 2017. Neither Bill has been debated since 2017. The Government is reportedly planning to amend the Bills following from the recommendations of the Royal Commission.

The ‘Protecting Your Super’ Bill includes measures announced in the 2018/19 Budget – including capping some fees, opt-in insurance for younger members and consolidating inactive accounts. It was last debated in June 2018.

Only three Senate sitting days are scheduled for February, with another two in April for the Budget – which was moved forward to allow for an election to be called for May. Failing to pass the Bills in these five sittings would likely push their passage beyond the proposed start dates – for instance, several of the measures in the Protecting Your Super Bill have start dates of 1 July 2019.

Timing is also an issue for the Government’s proposed Super Guarantee underpayment amnesty. If legislated, the 12 month amnesty would run from 24 May 2018 to 23 May 2019. The Bill containing the amnesty, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Superannuation Measures No. 1) Bill 2018, was last debated in June 2018.

The ATO says: “Until law giving effect to the proposed Superannuation Guarantee Amnesty is enacted, we will continue to apply the existing law”.

Several pieces of the Government’s super legislation haven’t been debated since 2017. One bill, legislating an objective for superannuation, hasn’t been debated since 2016.

In 2019 Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert has been repeatedly calling on Labor to support the Government’s legislation. Last week he called on Labor to support both the Protecting Your Super Bill and another which expands super choice and closes the salary sacrifice ‘loophole’ – but this second Bill isn’t on the Senate schedule.

Last year Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert said the Government would move amendments to three of its superannuation Bills to try and get the necessary votes in the Senate. Though these amendments have yet to be publicly released. One of these Bills was the Protecting Your Super Bill.

Single Touch Payroll Bill not listed for vote in House

Late last year the Government’s Bill to extend Single Touch Payroll (STP) to smaller employers passed the Senate – with amendments by the Government, meaning it would have to return to the House of Representatives for another vote. But the Bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (2018 Measures No. 4) Bill 2018, is not listed on the Draft Legislation Programme for the House of Representatives for this week. It is proposed that smaller employers (19 or fewer employees) would start using STP from 1 July 2019. Though the House has more sitting days scheduled than the Senate ahead of the Budget.

Update: The Bill to extend STP to smaller employers, amongst other measures, has passed the House and awaits Royal Assent.

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