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FOR – Bills — Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023; in Committee

Lidia Thorpe

by leave—I move amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 2439 together:

(1) Schedule 2, item 10, page 9 (after line 15), at the end of subsection 12(4), add:

Note: The appointment process in section 12A also needs to be complied with.

(2) Schedule 2, item 10, page 9 (after line 15), after section 12, insert:

12A Appointment process

(1) This section applies to the following appointments:

(a) the appointment of a person to be a Board member under section 12;

(b) the appointment of a person to act as a Board member under section 14 if:

(i) the appointment is to act in the office for a period of 6 months or more; or

(ii) the appointment is to act in the office for a period of less than 6 months but, in combination with previous appointments, the person will have been appointed to act in the office for a total period of 6 consecutive months or more.

(2) An appointment must not be made unless:

(a) the selection of the person for the appointment is the result of a process that includes:

(i) public advertising of selection criteria for the position; and

(ii) assessment of applications against the selection criteria by an independent panel consisting of at least 3 members; and

(iii) shortlisting of at least 3 persons for the appointment who are certified, in writing, by the panel to meet all of the selection criteria; and

(b) the person appointed is one of the shortlisted candidates.

(3) Within 7 days after an appointment is made, the Minister must cause a copy of the written certification (referred to in subparagraph (2)(a)(iii)) for the person appointed to be:

(a) tabled in each House of the Parliament; or

(b) if a House is not sitting—presented or tabled at the earliest opportunity in accordance with the practices of that House.

(3) Schedule 2, item 10, page 10 (before line 25), before the note, insert:

Note 1: For the appointment of an acting Board member, the appointment process in section 12A also needs to be complied with.

(4) Schedule 2, item 10, page 10 (line 25), omit "Note", substitute "Note 2".

The review and a number of submissions called for this act to include provisions for appointments to the board that minimise the possibility of appointments on the basis of political favour. Ministerial appointments open the ARC board up to more 'jobs for mates' being appointed by government. While we appreciate that the establishment of the ARC board is a significant step to improving the independence of ARC decisions, a number of experts and submissions proposed strengthening these provisions.

An ideal model involves a democratic process where board members are elected by the academic community in a process which is totally independent of government, such as the model used in New Zealand. These amendments, which involve an independent panel reviewing applications and shortlisting applicants to be chosen by the minister, maintain ministerial oversight while creating a significant improvement towards integrity and independence.

Anthony Chisholm

The government will not support these amendments. The processes for appointment of the board are drawn from the independent review and are dealt with as part of the legislation.

Mehreen Faruqi

The Greens will support these amendments, because we support a selection process for the ARC board members that is transparent and that reduces the risk of political appointments.

Question negatived.

Lidia Thorpe

I move amendment (1) on sheet 2437:

(1) Schedule 3, item 6, page 25 (after line 19), after paragraph 49(2)(e), insert:

(ea) require each researcher involved in the research project concerned to declare any conflicts of interest, potential conflicts of interest, or perceived conflicts of interest, to the Australian Research Council; and

This amendment will require each researcher involved in a research project to declare actual or potential conflicts of interest to the ARC, with this requirement attached directly to the funding agreement between each organisation and the ARC as a term of the funding agreement. This was proposed in the concussion in sport inquiry to improve research integrity in a field where industry backed researchers have undertaken dodgy research that has impacted people's livelihoods.

These provisions complement existing ARC arrangements and declarations of conflict of interest. They will help to ensure that no more public money goes towards dodgy industry backed research.

Anthony Chisholm

Thank you, Senator Thorpe. The government will support this amendment; it's a sensible addition to the primary bill and reflects good corporate governance. We're happy to support it, and I thank Senator Thorpe for her engagement on this matter.

Mehreen Faruqi

This amendment makes the case that ARC funding agreements require researchers involved to declare any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest to the ARC. I do note that the ARC's current policy on conflicts of interest and existing grant application processes already appear to require researchers to declare conflicts of interest. However, I think this amendment does provide clarity and the Greens will not stand in the way of it.

Question agreed to.

by leave—I move the Australian Greens amendments (1) to (9) on sheet 2394 together:

(1) Schedule 3, item 6, page 23 (line 1), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(2) Schedule 3, item 6, page 23 (lines 3 and 4), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(3) Schedule 3, item 6, page 24 (line 17), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(4) Schedule 3, item 6, page 24 (lines 20 and 21), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(5) Schedule 3, item 6, page 29 (lines 27 and 28), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(6) Schedule 3, item 6, page 29 (lines 31 and 32), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(7) Schedule 3, item 6, page 32 (lines 23 and 24), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(8) Schedule 3, item 6, page 32 (line 26), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

(9) Schedule 3, item 6, page 33 (line 26), omit ", defence or international relations", substitute "or defence".

While this bill is a really big step forward in terms of removing the minister's veto power, I think there are some areas in this bill which still leave that power within the minister's jurisdiction. This amendment removes the minister's power to not approve, or to terminate, ARC research funding for reasons relevant to international relations of Australia. The ARC review recommended retaining a ministerial veto only for reasons of national security, but this bill broadens those reasons by adding international relations as a reason for a veto as well. Researchers, including the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and five Australian academies, have raised concerns that this risks being interpreted broadly and could lead to unintended consequences.

The breadth of the international relations veto power is concerning because, in determining whether to veto research funding for international relations reasons, the bill explicitly notes that the minister may regard any matter they consider appropriate. This is a pretty wide discretion that does present a real risk. A huge amount of international collaboration occurs across the research sector. An explicit object of the ARC as proposed by this bill is to support collaborative research with international partners, so clearly there is a risk that the international relations veto could be relevant to many research projects and does present a risk of interference that this bill is trying to remove more broadly. My amendment would remove this risk.

Anthony Chisholm

Thanks, Senator Faruqi. The government will not support this amendment. The provisions around national security are drawn from existing legislation which deals with the same subject matter. It is important that the accepted statutory formulation of national security be maintained in this bill. The bill has strong protections at section 55 to ensure that this power is exercised for a proper purpose.

David Fawcett

The question is that Australian Greens amendments 1 to 9 on sheet 2394 be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023; in Committee

Lidia Thorpe

by leave—I move the amendment on sheet 2451, standing in my name:

(1) Schedule 2, item 10, page 9 (line 15), at the end of subsection 12(4), add:

; and (e) ensure that the membership of the Board reflects a diversity of discipline areas to the extent that is reasonably practicable.

This amendment is very simple. It gives full effect to recommendation 6 of the review, which states that the board must comprise members with:

… a combination of skills, experience, and perspectives relevant to the functions of the ARC across the spectrum of ARC disciplines, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership, research administration and evaluation, and university industry partners.

Numerous submissions and stakeholders called for measures to ensure the board is comprised of individuals from a range of academic disciplines. While I endorse the existing provisions requiring a First Nations member and geographical diversity, the diversity of the general community remains open to interpretation and does not guarantee that the range of academic disciplines are represented on the board.

Anthony Chisholm

The government will not be supporting this amendment. The processes for appointment of the board are drawn from the independent review and contain protections around diversity. The government has agreed to an amendment from the Greens which further enhanced this protection.

Mehreen Faruqi

The Greens, as I said earlier, have long pushed for representative and diverse governance structures in universities and research, so we will be supporting Senator Thorpe's amendment.

David Fawcett

The question is that Senator Thorpe's amendment (1) on sheet 2451 be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023; in Committee

David Fawcett

There were two amendments moved together by leave. We'll now deal with the second of those amendments, which is Australian Greens amendment (2) on sheet 2395. The question is that item 3 of schedule 3 stand as printed.

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FOR – Bills — Australian Research Council Amendment (Review Response) Bill 2023; Second Reading

Sarah Henderson

I was saying that the government must remain accountable for the expenditure of taxpayers' money and that, if this ARC Board goes on a frolic of its own and starts irresponsibly approving improper expenditure, which is most improper in itself, the taxpayer will suffer. I make the point in relation to this irresponsible proposal to remove ministerial discretion on ARC grant programs that ministerial discretion exists for most programs across government. This discretion ensures that taxpayers' money is spent on projects which align with the national interest and on things that will advance Australia as a nation. So, despite protests by the government that it is taking the so-called politics out of the ARC, what it is actually doing is removing itself from any accountability in relation to a very large amount of funds which are spent in the name of the taxpayer. This is not only lazy and unacceptable but most improper.

The government and the Greens have concocted a ridiculous narrative claiming political intervention by the coalition, and I just want to reiterate that the coalition objected to just 32 grant decisions since 2005—just 32. Many of these grant decisions included excess travel costs to international destinations. The projects, by their very nature, did not make it clear how they would advance Australia's interests. So, for example, I will refer to a $200,000 project titled 'Classical love in modern times: transformations in the keystaging profession in colonial Korea'. There was $124,000 on a project titled 'Queer career: a cultural history'; and $161,000 on a project called 'On beauty and ugliness as persuasive tools in changing China's gender norms'.

I'm not disputing that there may be some merit in this research, if a researcher wants to fund this research him or herself, or an institution wants to fund this research. But this is not the type of research which should be funded by the taxpayer. The absolute sheer hypocrisy of this government in running this pathetic narrative, claiming they're taking the politics out of the ARC, when in fact the minister is preserving his right to approve grants concerning tens of millions of dollars—they are the projects which give him the opportunity to cut the ribbon, to make the big announcements. I mean, it is absolutely pathetic. And it is a reflection of this pathetic government, pathetic in so many respects, pathetic in safeguarding taxpayers' money. So removing ministerial discretion is just absurd, and regrettably the Greens played into the government's hands in not even calling out this hypocrisy.

The Australian Research Council receives more than $1 billion in funding each year, with nearly $900 million distributed through grants. We are talking an incredible amount of money. Taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going, and to expect the government of the day to ensure it is spent on projects which will support the Australian people. That's a key issue here. The government has absolved itself from its responsibility. Hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers money will now be outsourced to a so-called independent board. Where are the safeguards to stop the board going on a frolic of its own? Say there's an application for a research program of $500,000 that involves $400,000 of international travel and accommodation with dubious merit. This weak and pathetic minister now puts himself and the government in the position where he can no longer intervene. That is an absolute disgrace. The taxpayers of this country deserve better than that. The government doesn't even have the temerity to produce the ARC financial sustainability report, which it's also trying to keep secret—another shocking example of this completely appalling government.

Long debate text truncated.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

David Pocock

by leave—I move amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 2404:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit the table item, substitute:

(2) Schedule 1, items 16 and 17, page 11 (line 2) to page 13 (line 17) omit "this Act" (wherever occurring), substitute "this Schedule".

(3) Page 14 (after line 18), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 2 — Other amendments

Paid Parental Leave Act 2010

1 Section 6

Insert:

small business employer: see subsection 101(7).

2 After subsection 101(2)

Insert:

Effect of election by employer to not pay instalments

(2A) Despite subsection (1), the Secretary must not make an employer determination, at a particular time, for a person and the person's employer if the Secretary is satisfied that:

(a) the employer is a small business employer at that time; and

(b) the employer has made an election under section 112A that applies to the person at that time.

3 At the end of section 101

Add:

Meaning of small business employer

(7) An employer is a small business employer at a particular time if the employer employs fewer than 20 employees at that time.

4 Division 4 of Part 3-5 (heading)

After "to pay", insert "or not pay".

5 Before section 109

Insert:

Subdivision A — Election by employer to pay instalments

6 At the end of subsection 109(1)

Add:

Note: For the effect of an election under this section see subsection 101(2).

7 Subsections 110(1), 111(1) and 111(3)

After "an election", insert "made under section 109".

8 Section 112

After "An election", insert "made under section 109".

9 At the end of Division 4 of Part 3-5

Add:

Subdivision B — Election by small business employer to not pay instalments

112A Election by small business employer to not pay instalments

(1) A small business employer may elect to not pay instalments to one or more employees of the employer by giving the Secretary a notice in accordance with subsections (3) and (4).

Note: For the effect of an election under this section see subsection 101(2A).

(2) However, an election does not affect an employer determination that has already been made.

Note: The Secretary may revoke an employer determination that has already been made for the employer and a person under subsection 108(2).

Requirements for elections

(3) The notice must be in the approved form.

(4) An election under subsection (1) must be expressed to apply in relation to:

(a) one or more specified employees of the employer; or

(b) one or more specified classes of employee of the employer; or

(c) all employees of the employer.

112B Employer may withdraw an election

(1) The employer may, at any time, withdraw an election made under section 112A by notice given to the Secretary in the form approved by the Secretary.

(2) However, a withdrawal does not affect an employer determination that has already been made.

112C Secretary may cancel an election

(1) The Secretary may cancel an election made under section 112A if the Secretary is satisfied that the employer is not a small business employer.

(2) However, a cancellation does not affect an employer determination that has already been made.

Note: The Secretary may revoke an employer determination that has already been made for the employer and a person under subsection 108(2).

(3) If the Secretary cancels an election made under section 112A, the Secretary must give the employer a written notice advising the employer of that decision. The notice must contain any information prescribed by the PPL rules.

112D When an election is in force

An election under section 112A remains in force from the time it is received by the Secretary until one of the following occurs:

(a) if paragraph 112A(4)(a) applies—the specified employee's continuous flexible period for the child ends;

(b) the Secretary receives notice under section 112B that the election has been withdrawn;

(c) the election is cancelled under section 112C.

10 Paragraph 207(3)(b)

Omit "determination.", substitute "determination; or".

11 After paragraph 207(3)(b)

Insert:

(c) at the time the determination was made, both:

(i) the employer was a small business employer; and

(ii) an election made by the employer under section 112A applied to the person and was in force.

12 At the end of subsection 207(3)

Add:

Note 3: Section 112A allows a small business employer to elect to not pay instalments to an employee, a class of employees or all employees of the employer. Subsection 101(2A) prohibits the Secretary from making an employer determination if the employer has made an election under section 112A that applies to the person.

13 Paragraph 207(6)(a)

Before "specify", insert "if paragraph (3)(a) or (b) applies to the application—".

14 After paragraph 207(6)(b)

Insert:

(ba) if paragraph (3)(c) applies to the application—state whether the employer believes that, at the time the determination was made, the employer was a small business employer and an election made by the employer under section 112A applied to the person and was in force; and

15 After subparagraph 215(2)(a)(vii)

Insert:

(viia) subsection 112A(3);

(viib) subsection 112B(1);

16 Paragraph 224(2)(b)

Omit "determination.", substitute "determination; or".

17 After paragraph 224(2)(b)

Insert:

(c) at the time the determination was made, both:

(i) the employer was a small business employer; and

(ii) an election made by the employer under section 112A applied to the person and was in force.

18 At the end of subsection 224(2)

Add:

Note 3: Section 112A allows a small business employer to elect to not pay instalments to an employee, a class of employees or all employees of the employer. Subsection 101(2A) prohibits the Secretary from making an employer determination if the employer has made an election under section 112A that applies to the person.

19 Subparagraph 224(3)(c)(i)

Before "specify", insert "if paragraph (2)(a) or (b) applies to the application—".

20 At the end of paragraph 224(3)(c)

Add:

; and (iii) if paragraph (2)(c) applies to the application—state whether the employer believes that, at the time the determination was made, the employer was a small business employer and an election made by the employer under section 112A applied to the person and was in force.

21 Application of amendments

The amendments of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 made by this Schedule apply in relation to claims made on or after the commencement of this item.

Malarndirri McCarthy

As I've already said in this debate, the bill before parliament does not make any change to the longstanding employer role. What it does give to Australian families is more paid parental leave than ever before. This, in turn, is good for them, good for their employers and good for the economy. The government has heard compelling evidence from women's groups, family advocates, economists and unions about how the employer role in administering PPL is important for promoting gender equality. Removing this for small business would be a backward step. We will not support this.

Andrew McLachlan

The question before the committee is that amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 2404, as moved by Senator David Pocock, be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

Larissa Waters

by leave—I move the final Greens requests for amendments, requests (1) to (3) on sheet 2141 together:

(1) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (lines 13 to 18), omit the item, substitute:

4 Paragraph 21(1)(a)

Omit "10", substitute "20".

(2) Schedule 1, item 12, page 8 (lines 24 to 29), omit paragraphs 31ABA(1)(b) to (d), substitute:

(b) for a child born on or after 1 July 2024—130 flexible PPL days for the child.

(3) Schedule 1, item 12, page 9 (lines 11 to 16), omit paragraphs 31ABA(2)(b) to (d), substitute:

(b) for a child born on or after 1 July 2024—110 flexible PPL days for the child.

Briefly for the chamber, this is another one where we are not making women wait. This bill would increase the amount of PPL up to 26 weeks by 2026. We support the increase to 26 weeks, but why do you need to wait until 2026 to do the good thing? Do the good thing now. That's what this amendment says. Make those 26 weeks available for new parents from this year, not 2026. Stop making women wait.

Malarndirri McCarthy

The government is investing a total of $1.2 billion over five years to expand the scheme to 26 weeks by 2026. It is the largest investment in PPL since Labor introduced it in 2011, and families will have access to more PPL than ever before. Our staged approach enables structural reform in a difficult fiscal environment. We do not support this.

Andrew McLachlan

The question before the chair is that the requests for amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 2141, as moved by Senator Waters, be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

Larissa Waters

by leave—I move Australian Greens requests Nos (1) to (3) on sheet 2455 together:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit the table item, substitute:

(2) Clause 3, page 2 (after line 11), at the end of the clause, add:

Note: The provisions of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Regulations 2018 amended by this Act, and any other provisions of those Regulations, may be amended or repealed by regulations made under section 80 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (see subsection 13(5) of the Legislation Act 2003).

(3) Page 14 (after line 18), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 3 — Superannuation for employer-funded parental leave pay

Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992

1 Subsection 6(1)

Insert:

child: without limiting who is a child of another person for the purposes of this Act, a person is the child of another person if the person is a child of the other person within the meaning of the Family Law Act 1975.

medical practitioner means a person registered, or licensed, as a medical practitioner under a law of a State or Territory that provides for the registration or licensing of medical practitioners.

parental leave includes leave that:

(a) is taken by a person who is required or entitled to take the leave under:

(i) a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory; or

(ii) an industrial instrument (however described); or

(iii) a contract of employment or any other agreement; and

(b) is associated with:

(i) the birth of a child of the person or the person's partner; or

(ii) the placement of a child with the person or the person's partner for adoption; or

(iii) the permanent placement of a child with the person or the person's partner in accordance with recognised cultural child rearing practices; or

(iv) the delivery of a stillborn child of the person or the person's partner; or

(v) if the person is pregnant—a period before the expected birth of a child of the person during which a medical practitioner considers that the person is not fit for work or that it is inadvisable for the person to continue work in the person's present position.

stillborn, in relation to a child, has the same meaning as in the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010.

2 After paragraph 11(1)(ba)

Insert:

(bb) payments for a period of parental leave; and

3 Section 27

Before "The", insert "(1)".

4 At the end of section 27

Add:

(2) However:

(a) an employee must not be prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (1)(d) only because the employee is paid salary or wages that are payments for a period of parental leave; and

(b) salary or wages that are payments for a period of parental leave must not be prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (1)(e).

Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Regulations 2018

5 Section 5 (definition of parental leave )

Repeal the definition.

6 Paragraph 12(1)(a)

Repeal the paragraph.

7 In the appropriate position in Part 8

Insert:

28 Application — repeals made by the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Act 2024

The repeal of the definition of parental leave in section 5 and the repeal of paragraph 12(1)(a), made by Schedule 3 to the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Act 2024, apply in relation to salary or wages paid for days occurring on or after 1 July 2024.

8 Application of amendments

(1) The amendment of section 11 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 made by this Schedule applies in relation to salary or wages paid for days occurring on or after 1 July 2024.

(2) Subsection 27(2) of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, as added by this Schedule, applies in relation to regulations made on or after the day this item commences.

Statement pursuant to the order of__the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (3)

Amendment (3) is framed as a request because it would amend the bill to expand the categories of salary or wages used to calculate whether an employer has a superannuation guarantee shortfall under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 (SGA Act), to include payments for a period of parental leave.

If an employer does not pay sufficient superannuation on salary or wages in accordance with the SGA Act, then the employer will have a superannuation guarantee shortfall under that Act. As the amendment expands the categories of salary or wages, the amendment will likely increase the superannuation guarantee shortfall calculated under the SGA Act. This would increase the amount of tax liable to be collected under the Superannuation Guarantee (Charges) Act 1992, and the amount the Commissioner of Taxation is required to pay under Part 8 of the SGA Act under the standing appropriation in section 71 of that Act.

Amendments (1) and (2)

Amendments (1) and (2) are consequential to amendment (3).

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant__to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (3)

If the effect of the amendment is to increase expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 71 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, then it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that the amendment be moved as a request.

Amendments (1) and (2)

These amendments are consequential on the request. It is the practice of the Senate that an amendment that is consequential on an amendment framed as a request may also be framed as a request.

This amendment relates to the paying of superannuation on the employer funded portion of paid parental leave. Unfortunately the chamber didn't see fit to support my previous amendment which was to ensure that government-paid super on the government portion of PPL would kick in earlier and women would not be made to wait, but this amendment pertains to the employer portion of PPL, where super should also be paid.

Malarndirri McCarthy

The government does not support this amendment. The government will be legislating to pay superannuation on government funded paid parental leave from July 2025. We are showing leadership in doing so and in helping to normalise parental leave as a workplace entitlement. In recent decades there has been a steady increase in employers funding parental leave alongside the government scheme. Among employers who offer their own paid parental leave, the vast majority—around 86 per cent—pay super on that leave. The government encourages employers to meet this standard and, increasingly, employees expect it too. The government will continue to work with employers on these matters, and that's what the national strategy for gender equality is all about.

David Pocock

I won't be supporting this amendment. It wasn't part of the consultation process. It was circulated on Friday, leaving no time to consult on it.

Question negatived.

Larissa Waters

by leave—I seek to have the Greens position recorded.

Andrew McLachlan

It will be recorded.

Lidia Thorpe

by leave—I too would like to have my support for the amendments recorded.

Andrew McLachlan

It will be recorded.

Larissa Waters

by leave—I move Australian Greens requests Nos (1) to (3) on sheet 2140 together:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1) Schedule 1, item 4, page 3 (lines 13 to 18), omit the item, substitute:

4 Paragraph 21(1)(a)

Omit all the words after "a total of", substitute:

": (i) if the child is born before 1 July 2024—10 flexible PPL days; or

(ii) if the child is born between 1 July 2024 and 30 June 2025—20 flexible PPL days; or

(iii) if the child is born between 1 July 2025 and 30 June 2026—25 flexible PPL days; or

(iv) if the child is born between 1 July 2026 and 30 June 2027—25 flexible PPL days; or

(v) if the child is born between 1 July 2027 and 30 June 2028—30 flexible PPL days; or

(vi) if the child is born between 1 July 2028 and 30 June 2029—35 flexible PPL days; or

(vii) if the child is born between 1 July 2029 and 30 June 2030—35 flexible PPL days; or

(viii) if the child is born on or after 1 July 2030—40 flexible PPL days; and".

(2) Schedule 1, item 12, page 8 (lines 24 to 29), omit paragraphs 31ABA(1)(b) to (d), substitute:

(b) for a child born between 1 July 2024 and 30 June 2025—130 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(c) for a child born between 1 July 2025 and 30 June 2026—150 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(d) for a child born between 1 July 2026 and 30 June 2027—170 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(e) for a child born between 1 July 2027 and 30 June 2028—190 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(f) for a child born between 1 July 2028 and 30 June 2029—210 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(g) for a child born between 1 July 2029 and 30 June 2030—230 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(h) for a child born on or after 1 July 2030—260 flexible PPL days for the child.

(3) Schedule 1, item 12, page 9 (lines 11 to 16), omit paragraphs 31ABA(2)(b) to (d), substitute:

(b) for a child born between 1 July 2024 and 30 June 2025—110 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(c) for a child born between 1 July 2025 and 30 June 2026—125 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(d) for a child born between 1 July 2026 and 30 June 2027—145 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(e) for a child born between 1 July 2027 and 30 June 2028—160 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(f) for a child born between 1 July 2028 and 30 June 2029—175 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(g) for a child born between 1 July 2029 and 30 June 2030—195 flexible PPL days for the child; or

(h) for a child born on or after 1 July 2030—220 flexible PPL days for the child.

Statement pursuant to the order of__the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (2)

Amendment (2) is framed as a request because it amends the bill to bring forward the increase in the maximum number of days for which paid parental leave can be paid from 1 July 2026 to 1 July 2024. The amendment also progressively increases the maximum number of days for which paid parental leave can be paid at the start of each financial year starting between 1 July 2025 and 1 July 2030.

As this will increase the total amount of paid parental leave that can be paid in relation to children born on or after 1 July 2024, the amendment will increase the amount of expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010.

Amendments (1) and (3)

Amendments (1) and (3) are consequential to amendment (2).

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant__to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (2)

If the effect of the amendment is to increase expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 307 of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 then it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that the amendment be moved as a request.

Amendments (1) and (3)

These amendments are consequential on the request. It is the practice of the Senate that an amendment that is consequential on an amendment framed as a request may also be framed as a request.

This amendment would implement one of the recommendations of the Women's Economic Equality Taskforce, whose recommendations, sadly, have been largely gathering dust on the shelf, despite them all being extremely meritorious. This amendment would say: 'Let's move up to 12 months paid parental leave by 2030.' Australia has been lagging behind comparable countries in terms of the length of PPL and, I might add, in terms of the rate. This amendment would redress that and would move us up to international best practice of 12 months by 2030.

As I said, this was a WEET recommendation. I believe this policy is endorsed by many of the larger unions for good reasons. It's equitable. It will both help the development of young ones and also help continue that connection to the workforce predominantly for women since they, again, are the ones who predominantly take PPL. This is a really good idea, and the chamber should support it.

Long debate text truncated.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

Anne Ruston

by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 2198 revised together:

(1) Schedule 1, items 16 and 17, page 11 (line 2) to page 13 (line 17), omit "this Act" (wherever occurring), substitute "this Schedule".

(2) Page 14 (after line 18), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 2 — Other amendments

Paid Parental Leave Act 2010

1 Section 6

Insert:

small business employer: see subsection 101(7).

2 After paragraph 101(1)(c)

Insert:

(ca) the employer is not a small business employer; and

3 Subsection 101(2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

4 At the end of section 101

Add:

Meaning of small business employer

(7) An employer is a small business employer at a particular time if the employer employs fewer than 20 employees at that time.

5 Subparagraph 207(3)(a)(i)

Omit "or (c)", substitute ", (c) or (ca)".

6 Subsection 207(3) (note 2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

7 Subparagraph 224(2)(a)(i)

Omit "or (c)", substitute ", (c) or (ca)".

8 Subsection 224(2) (note 2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

9 Application of amendments

The amendments of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 made by this Schedule apply in relation to claims made on or after the commencement of this item.

Malarndirri McCarthy

The government opposes these amendments. While those opposite have characterised parental leave as a welfare scheme, the government shares the view of the Productivity Commission, women's groups, family advocates, economists and trade unions. Paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement that should be administered by employers. Administering the payment is a reasonable contribution from employers, who significantly benefit from the government providing PPL to their employees. Each year the government spends around $460 million to provide PPL to employees in small businesses, and this directly contributes to higher retention rates for employees in small businesses, particularly women. Without the government payment, many employees in small businesses would not have access to any paid parental leave. This bill, which increases the scheme by an extra six weeks, is good for all employers and workers, as is our commitment to pay super on PPL from July 2025.

Anne Ruston

I wasn't going to make a contribution, but, given the comments that we just heard from the minister opposite, I want to put very clearly on the record that the opposition has never referred to paid parental leave as a welfare scheme. I would ask her to reflect on coming in here and making comments that are clearly inaccurate. The opposition, when it was in government, was actually the first party to move on paid parental leave. We have a strong record of supporting government funded paid parental leave. It's important to note that the Labor government and the Greens are 14 years late on this particular policy. The coalition's paid parental leave policy, taken to the 2010 and 2013 federal election campaigns, included providing superannuation in the Commonwealth paid parental scheme, only for it to be opposed by Labor and the Greens. The minister has come in here and made these ridiculous false statements. I think the record of the coalition on this particular issue is absolutely documented by vote after vote and policy after policy for many, many years. To come in here and try to diminish the contribution of the coalition in relation to paid parental leave as a legislated workplace entitlement for women to make sure that they can choose to take time off to look after their children but remain connected to the workplace is, I think, an absolute disgrace and reflects terribly on you, Minister, and your government.

Malarndirri McCarthy

I appreciate your response there, Senator Ruston. What I would like to point out is that my reference was to those opposite who've characterised parental leave as a welfare scheme, and I do believe you may wish to have a discussion with Senator Paterson about his statement to the media on it.

Andrew McLachlan

The question is that amendments (1) and (2) on sheet 2198 revised moved together by leave by Senator Ruston be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

David Pocock

by leave—I move amendments (1), (2) and (3) on sheet 2403 together:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit the table item, substitute:

(2) Schedule 1, items 16 and 17, page 11 (line 2) to page 13 (line 17), omit "this Act" (wherever occurring), substitute "this Schedule".

(3) Page 14 (after line 18), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 2 — Other amendments

Paid Parental Leave Act 2010

1 Section 6

Insert:

small business employer: see subsection 101(7).

2 After paragraph 101(1)(c)

Insert:

(ca) the employer is not a small business employer; and

3 Subsection 101(2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

4 At the end of section 101

Add:

Meaning of small business employer

(7) An employer is a small business employer at a particular time if the employer employs fewer than 20 employees at that time.

5 Subparagraph 207(3)(a)(i)

Omit "or (c)", substitute ", (c) or (ca)".

6 Subsection 207(3) (note 2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

7 Subparagraph 224(2)(a)(i)

Omit "or (c)", substitute ", (c) or (ca)".

8 Subsection 224(2) (note 2)

Omit "and (c)", substitute ", (c) and (ca)".

9 Application of amendments

The amendments of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 made by this Schedule apply in relation to claims made on or after the commencement of this item.

Malarndirri McCarthy

The government opposes these amendments. The employer role, as recommended by the Productivity Commission to promote women's workplace retention and gender equality, has been a key feature of the scheme since it was established in 2011. The Productivity Commission said Paid Parental Leave arrangements will be viewed by both employers and employees as standard employment arrangements if they are similar to other employment conditions rather than a government payment from Services Australia. This normalises parental leave as a workplace entitlement, which is good for employee retention and fosters gender equitable workplaces.

The government's commitment to pay super on PPL will also help with this. The bill before parliament does not make any change to the longstanding employer role. It gives Australian families more paid parental leave than ever before, which, in turn, is good for them, good for their employer and good for the economy. The government has heard compelling evidence from women's groups, family advocates, economists and unions about how the employer role in administering PPL is important for promoting gender equality, and removing this for small business would be a backward step.

Larissa Waters

I rise on behalf of the Greens to point out that we won't be supporting this or any of the other amendments moved by Senators Pocock, Lambie and Babet. The whole point of having paid parental leave is that it is a workplace entitlement. Anything which would sever the connection between the worker who is taking parental leave and the employer destroys the whole point of a system that is designed to encourage women's workforce participation.

David Pocock

Minister, with this payment, I understand the argument about the workplace relationship in large businesses, but it doesn't stack up in small businesses. The government's own data show that the average small business—and potentially even microbusinesses, where you have a mum running a small business with a few employees—will have to spend 15 hours administering a payment that Services Australia already administers in up to 40 per cent of cases. If you haven't been at a business for 12 months, Services Australia does it directly. I get that with a large business with an HR department, it should just go through there. But we're talking about small businesses here who have good relationships with their employees. They have to because they're working with them day in and day out. Surely at that level it makes sense to have an opt-in, opt-out system.

If the issue is with how hard it is to navigate Services Australia, let's fix that. Let's fix Services Australia. Let's not put that onto small businesses who have to be some sort of go-between, when Services Australia is paying new parents directly 40 per cent of the time.

What can the government say when it comes to small businesses now facing potentially 15 hours a week on top of all their other commitments to administer a government payment? There's multipartisan support for PPL. I would love to see the government go further. But when it comes to the administration of it, this is a government payment. We should celebrate the fact that this is from the Australian people. This isn't the business coughing up: it's all of us. It's great to live in a country where we decide to do that and make that payment. So I'm a bit concerned about what it says about us that we want to try to disguise it as a business entitlement, when actually it's the Australian people saying we're going to pay for you to have real quality time with your new family. It's asking what's the government's view when it comes to small businesses and what support will there be?

Malarndirri McCarthy

Thank you, Senator Pocock. I certainly hear what you and Senator Lambie are saying in regard to the concerns that you are raising around this. We have gone through this quite considerably as a government, listening to all groups. We are firmly committed to employers having an active role in relation to PPL. We are committed to improving administrative processes for businesses, using government online services. We welcome a productive and outcomes focused discussion about ways that engage with Services Australia and how it can be made more simple and efficient for employers.

As part of our reform, the government has committed to undertake an independent and multi-year evaluation to track the impact of the changes, which will help us identify where any refinements might be needed, particularly in the areas that you highlight today. This provides an opportunity to examine the impacts of PPL on businesses and their employees.

Andrew McLachlan

The question before the committee is that amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 2403 moved together by Senator David Pocock be agreed to.

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FOR – Bills — Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023; in Committee

Larissa Waters

by leave—I move:

That the House of Representatives be requested to make the following amendments:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit the table item, substitute:

(2) Page 14 (after line 18), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 2 — Superannuation for Commonwealth-funded parental leave pay

Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992

1 After section 5A

Insert:

5AA Application of Act to Commonwealth for payments of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010

(1) If a payment of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 is made to a person (or to a person's payment nominee within the meaning of that Act):

(a) the person is taken, for the purposes of this Act (including the definition of Commonwealth employee in subsection 6(1) of this Act), to be employed by the Commonwealth as an employee of the Commonwealth in respect of the payment; and

(b) the responsible Department, in relation to the employment of the person as a Commonwealth employee, is taken, for the purposes of this Act (including the definition of responsible Department in subsection 5(5) of this Act), to be the Department of State administered by the Minister administering the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010; and

(c) the payment of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (disregarding any deductions made under Part 3-1 of that Act) made to the person is taken, for the purposes of this Act, to be salary or wages paid by the Commonwealth to the person as an employee of the Commonwealth.

Note: The effect of this subsection and section 5 of this Act is that the Commissioner will be required to pay amounts for the benefit of a person under Part 8 of this Act if the Commonwealth does not pay sufficient superannuation for the person for payments of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 made to the person.

(2) To avoid doubt, subsection (1) applies whether the payment of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 is made to the person in accordance with Part 3-2 or 3-3 of that Act.

2 Application of amendment

Section 5AA of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, as inserted by this Schedule, applies in relation to payments of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 made in relation to days, in an instalment period (within the meaning of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010), occurring on or after 1 July 2024.

2062-EM

Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023

(Requests for amendments to be moved by Senator Waters, on behalf of the Australian Greens, in committee of the whole)

Statement pursuant to the order of   .the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (2)

Amendment (2) is framed as a request because it would expand the categories of salary or wages used to calculate whether the Commonwealth (as an employer) has a superannuation guarantee shortfall under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992 ( SGA Act ). It does so by providing that payments to a person of parental leave pay under the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 are taken, for the purposes of the SGA Act, to be payments of salary or wages to that person as an employee of the Commonwealth.

If the Commonwealth does not pay sufficient superannuation as an employer on salary or wages in accordance with the SGA Act, then the Commonwealth will have a superannuation guarantee shortfall under that Act. As the amendment expands the categories of salary or wages, the amendment will likely increase the amount of the Commonwealth's superannuation guarantee shortfall under the SGA Act, which would increase any superannuation guarantee charge in respect of that shortfall that is taken to have been paid by the Commonwealth under section 5 of the SGA Act. This would have the effect of increasing the amount the Commissioner of Taxation is required to pay under Part 8 of the SGA Act under the standing appropriation in section 71 of that Act.

Amendment (1)

Amendment (1) is consequential to amendment (2).

Statement by the Clerk of the Senate pursuant   .to the order of the Senate of 26 June 2000

Amendment (2)

If the effect of the amendment is to increase expenditure under the standing appropriation in section 71 of the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, then it is in accordance with the precedents of the Senate that the amendment be moved as a request.

Amendment (1)

This amendment is consequential on the request. It is the practice of the Senate that an amendment that is consequential on an amendment framed as a request may also be framed as a request.

These are the amendments that would say, 'Why are women having to wait for superannuation to be paid on their paid parental leave until 1 July of next year?' We welcome the fact that the government has finally and belatedly announced that superannuation will be added to the government portion of paid parental leave, but there is still no justification for why women are being asked to wait for—what is it?—16 months until that meagre top-up, important though it may be, will be added to their PPL. This amendment says to the government, 'Stop making women wait for the good things.' Paid parental leave is the only entitlement upon which superannuation is not currently paid. It is also the only entitlement that is predominantly taken by women. Ergo, it is gender discrimination.

We're pleased that the government have said that they will fix this, but there is no justification for making women wait. This amendment says that you will be able to get superannuation paid on your paid parental leave from 1 July of this year; you don't have to wait until 1 July of next year. Making women wait until after the next election to receive super on paid parental leave is an outrage. This is a government that said that they were meant to be for women, but they keep making us wait for some small positive improvements. I've got some other amendments that go to the broader reforms that actually women and young parents and all parents deserve, which would extend out the amount and the length of PPL that can be taken, but this particular amendment just says, 'Stop making women wait for next year.' You're not making nuclear submarines wait. You didn't make the wealthy men wait for their tax cut, even though you amended it. Why are women waiting? So I commend these amendments to the chamber.

Malarndirri McCarthy

The government does not support these amendments. The government has announced it will pay superannuation on government funded paid parental leave from next year. The reason for this is to help normalise parental leave as a workplace entitlement like annual and sick leave.

Larissa Waters

Normalise it now!

Malarndirri McCarthy

I understand your passion here, Senator Waters, but I will get to that. It is about annual and sick leave and reducing the impact of parental leave on retirement incomes. This is the first time the government will be paying superannuation on a government payment. A start date of 1 July 2025 will allow us to get this right. This is not a straightforward legislative change, and it will involve significant change to PPL, income tax and superannuation legislation. It also requires significant systems changes across Services Australia and the ATO. It's not clear how these amendments from the Greens would operate in practice, including how PPL recipients would be paid their super, given the lack of clarity in these amendments.

Including superannuation as a part of this bill is not practical. Not only could it affect the successful implementation of paying super on PPL, but it could also jeopardise the timely passage of this bill. The timely passage of this bill is critical for expecting parents to be able to start to pre-claim from the end of March. Under the Paid Parental Leave Act, families are able to pre-claim up to three months ahead of their expected due date so that, from the parents' end, the administration is settled before the baby arrives. Around two thirds of families choose to pre-claim. So I just would like to say to the Greens that the government wants to get super on PPL right. Don't hold up this important bill, which extends PPL to 22 weeks from 1 July this year, 24 weeks from July 2025 and 26 weeks from July 2026.

Penny Allman-Payne

The question is that Australian Greens requests (1) and (2) on Sheet 2062 for amendments be agreed to.

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