morph-test-scrapers / morph-hansard

Convert Australian Hansard XML to an SQLite database

Scrapes data.openaustralia.org and en.wikipedia.org

Index of /


A scraper

./scraper.js

This will scrape the OpenAustralia Hansard XML to create an sqlite database of speech.

A corpus generator

./export.js

This will query the afore mentioned sqlite database and output a speech corpus suitable for training an RNN.

Contributors drzax

Last run failed with status code 255.

Console output of last run

Injecting configuration and compiling...  -----> Node.js app detected  -----> Creating runtime environment   NPM_CONFIG_LOGLEVEL=error  NPM_CONFIG_PRODUCTION=true  NPM_CONFIG_CAFILE=/etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt  NODE_ENV=production  NODE_TLS_REJECT_UNAUTHORIZED=0  NODE_MODULES_CACHE=true  -----> Installing binaries  engines.node (package.json): unspecified  engines.npm (package.json): unspecified (use default)   Resolving node version (latest stable) via semver.io...  Downloading and installing node 5.11.1...  Using default npm version: 3.8.6  -----> Restoring cache  Skipping cache restore (new runtime signature)  -----> Building dependencies  Installing node modules (package.json)   > sqlite3@3.1.4 install /tmp/build/node_modules/sqlite3  > node-pre-gyp install --fallback-to-build   [sqlite3] Success: "/tmp/build/node_modules/sqlite3/lib/binding/node-v47-linux-x64/node_sqlite3.node" is installed via remote  hansard2corpus@1.0.0 /tmp/build  +-- cheerio@0.20.0  | +-- css-select@1.2.0  | | +-- boolbase@1.0.0  | | +-- css-what@2.1.0  | | +-- domutils@1.5.1  | | `-- nth-check@1.0.1  | +-- dom-serializer@0.1.0  | | `-- domelementtype@1.1.3  | +-- entities@1.1.1  | +-- htmlparser2@3.8.3  | | +-- domelementtype@1.3.0  | | +-- domhandler@2.3.0  | | +-- entities@1.0.0  | | `-- readable-stream@1.1.14  | | +-- core-util-is@1.0.2  | | +-- inherits@2.0.3  | | +-- isarray@0.0.1  | | `-- string_decoder@0.10.31  | +-- jsdom@7.2.2  | | +-- abab@1.0.3  | | +-- acorn@2.7.0  | | +-- acorn-globals@1.0.9  | | +-- cssom@0.3.1  | | +-- cssstyle@0.2.37  | | +-- escodegen@1.8.1  | | | +-- esprima@2.7.3  | | | +-- estraverse@1.9.3  | | | +-- esutils@2.0.2  | | | +-- optionator@0.8.1  | | | | +-- deep-is@0.1.3  | | | | +-- fast-levenshtein@1.1.4  | | | | +-- levn@0.3.0  | | | | +-- prelude-ls@1.1.2  | | | | +-- type-check@0.3.2  | | | | `-- wordwrap@1.0.0  | | | `-- source-map@0.2.0  | | | `-- amdefine@1.0.0  | | +-- nwmatcher@1.3.8  | | +-- parse5@1.5.1  | | +-- sax@1.2.1  | | +-- symbol-tree@3.1.4  | | +-- webidl-conversions@2.0.1  | | +-- whatwg-url-compat@0.6.5  | | | `-- tr46@0.0.3  | | `-- xml-name-validator@2.0.1  | `-- lodash@4.15.0  +-- d3-queue@2.0.3  +-- request@2.74.0  | +-- aws-sign2@0.6.0  | +-- aws4@1.4.1  | +-- bl@1.1.2  | | `-- readable-stream@2.0.6  | | +-- isarray@1.0.0  | | +-- process-nextick-args@1.0.7  | | `-- util-deprecate@1.0.2  | +-- caseless@0.11.0  | +-- combined-stream@1.0.5  | | `-- delayed-stream@1.0.0  | +-- extend@3.0.0  | +-- forever-agent@0.6.1  | +-- form-data@1.0.1  | | `-- async@2.0.1  | +-- har-validator@2.0.6  | | +-- chalk@1.1.3  | | | +-- ansi-styles@2.2.1  | | | +-- escape-string-regexp@1.0.5  | | | +-- has-ansi@2.0.0  | | | `-- supports-color@2.0.0  | | +-- commander@2.9.0  | | | `-- graceful-readlink@1.0.1  | | +-- is-my-json-valid@2.13.1  | | | +-- generate-function@2.0.0  | | | +-- generate-object-property@1.2.0  | | | | `-- is-property@1.0.2  | | | +-- jsonpointer@2.0.0  | | | `-- xtend@4.0.1  | | `-- pinkie-promise@2.0.1  | | `-- pinkie@2.0.4  | +-- hawk@3.1.3  | | +-- boom@2.10.1  | | +-- cryptiles@2.0.5  | | +-- hoek@2.16.3  | | `-- sntp@1.0.9  | +-- http-signature@1.1.1  | | +-- assert-plus@0.2.0  | | +-- jsprim@1.3.0  | | | +-- extsprintf@1.0.2  | | | +-- json-schema@0.2.2  | | | `-- verror@1.3.6  | | `-- sshpk@1.10.0  | | +-- asn1@0.2.3  | | +-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | +-- bcrypt-pbkdf@1.0.0  | | | `-- tweetnacl@0.14.3  | | +-- dashdash@1.14.0  | | | `-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | +-- ecc-jsbn@0.1.1  | | +-- getpass@0.1.6  | | | `-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | +-- jodid25519@1.0.2  | | +-- jsbn@0.1.0  | | `-- tweetnacl@0.13.3  | +-- is-typedarray@1.0.0  | +-- isstream@0.1.2  | +-- json-stringify-safe@5.0.1  | +-- mime-types@2.1.11  | | `-- mime-db@1.23.0  | +-- node-uuid@1.4.7  | +-- oauth-sign@0.8.2  | +-- qs@6.2.1  | +-- stringstream@0.0.5  | +-- tough-cookie@2.3.1  | `-- tunnel-agent@0.4.3  +-- sqlite3@3.1.4  | +-- nan@2.3.5  | `-- node-pre-gyp@0.6.28  | +-- mkdirp@0.5.1  | | `-- minimist@0.0.8  | +-- nopt@3.0.6  | | `-- abbrev@1.0.7  | +-- npmlog@2.0.3  | | +-- ansi@0.3.1  | | +-- are-we-there-yet@1.1.2  | | | +-- delegates@1.0.0  | | | `-- readable-stream@2.1.2  | | `-- gauge@1.2.7  | | +-- has-unicode@2.0.0  | | +-- lodash.pad@4.4.0  | | | +-- lodash._baseslice@4.0.0  | | | +-- lodash._basetostring@4.12.0  | | | `-- lodash.tostring@4.1.3  | | +-- lodash.padend@4.5.0  | | `-- lodash.padstart@4.5.0  | +-- rc@1.1.6  | | +-- deep-extend@0.4.1  | | +-- ini@1.3.4  | | +-- minimist@1.2.0  | | `-- strip-json-comments@1.0.4  | +-- request@2.72.0  | | +-- aws-sign2@0.6.0  | | +-- aws4@1.4.1  | | +-- bl@1.1.2  | | | `-- readable-stream@2.0.6  | | +-- caseless@0.11.0  | | +-- combined-stream@1.0.5  | | | `-- delayed-stream@1.0.0  | | +-- extend@3.0.0  | | +-- forever-agent@0.6.1  | | +-- form-data@1.0.0-rc4  | | | `-- async@1.5.2  | | +-- har-validator@2.0.6  | | | +-- chalk@1.1.3  | | | | +-- ansi-styles@2.2.1  | | | | +-- escape-string-regexp@1.0.5  | | | | +-- has-ansi@2.0.0  | | | | | `-- ansi-regex@2.0.0  | | | | +-- strip-ansi@3.0.1  | | | | `-- supports-color@2.0.0  | | | +-- commander@2.9.0  | | | | `-- graceful-readlink@1.0.1  | | | +-- is-my-json-valid@2.13.1  | | | | +-- generate-function@2.0.0  | | | | +-- generate-object-property@1.2.0  | | | | | `-- is-property@1.0.2  | | | | +-- jsonpointer@2.0.0  | | | | `-- xtend@4.0.1  | | | `-- pinkie-promise@2.0.1  | | | `-- pinkie@2.0.4  | | +-- hawk@3.1.3  | | | +-- boom@2.10.1  | | | +-- cryptiles@2.0.5  | | | +-- hoek@2.16.3  | | | `-- sntp@1.0.9  | | +-- http-signature@1.1.1  | | | +-- assert-plus@0.2.0  | | | +-- jsprim@1.2.2  | | | | +-- extsprintf@1.0.2  | | | | +-- json-schema@0.2.2  | | | | `-- verror@1.3.6  | | | `-- sshpk@1.8.3  | | | +-- asn1@0.2.3  | | | +-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | | +-- dashdash@1.13.1  | | | | `-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | | +-- ecc-jsbn@0.1.1  | | | +-- getpass@0.1.6  | | | | `-- assert-plus@1.0.0  | | | +-- jodid25519@1.0.2  | | | +-- jsbn@0.1.0  | | | `-- tweetnacl@0.13.3  | | +-- is-typedarray@1.0.0  | | +-- isstream@0.1.2  | | +-- json-stringify-safe@5.0.1  | | +-- mime-types@2.1.11  | | | `-- mime-db@1.23.0  | | +-- node-uuid@1.4.7  | | +-- oauth-sign@0.8.2  | | +-- qs@6.1.0  | | +-- stringstream@0.0.5  | | +-- tough-cookie@2.2.2  | | `-- tunnel-agent@0.4.3  | +-- rimraf@2.5.2  | | `-- glob@7.0.3  | | +-- inflight@1.0.4  | | +-- minimatch@3.0.0  | | | `-- brace-expansion@1.1.4  | | | +-- balanced-match@0.4.1  | | | `-- concat-map@0.0.1  | | `-- path-is-absolute@1.0.0  | +-- semver@5.1.0  | +-- tar@2.2.1  | | +-- block-stream@0.0.9  | | +-- fstream@1.0.9  | | | `-- graceful-fs@4.1.4  | | `-- inherits@2.0.1  | `-- tar-pack@3.1.3  | +-- debug@2.2.0  | | `-- ms@0.7.1  | +-- fstream-ignore@1.0.4  | +-- once@1.3.3  | | `-- wrappy@1.0.1  | +-- readable-stream@2.0.6  | | +-- core-util-is@1.0.2  | | +-- isarray@1.0.0  | | +-- process-nextick-args@1.0.7  | | +-- string_decoder@0.10.31  | | `-- util-deprecate@1.0.2  | `-- uid-number@0.0.6  +-- to-markdown@2.1.0  | +-- collapse-whitespace@1.1.2  | | +-- block-elements@1.1.0  | | `-- void-elements@2.0.1  | `-- jsdom@8.5.0  | +-- array-equal@1.0.0  | +-- iconv-lite@0.4.13  | +-- webidl-conversions@3.0.1  | `-- whatwg-url@2.0.1  | `-- webidl-conversions@3.0.1  `-- yargs@4.8.1  +-- cliui@3.2.0  | +-- strip-ansi@3.0.1  | | `-- ansi-regex@2.0.0  | `-- wrap-ansi@2.0.0  +-- decamelize@1.2.0  +-- get-caller-file@1.0.2  +-- lodash.assign@4.2.0  +-- os-locale@1.4.0  | `-- lcid@1.0.0  | `-- invert-kv@1.0.0  +-- read-pkg-up@1.0.1  | +-- find-up@1.1.2  | | `-- path-exists@2.1.0  | `-- read-pkg@1.1.0  | +-- load-json-file@1.1.0  | | +-- graceful-fs@4.1.6  | | +-- parse-json@2.2.0  | | | `-- error-ex@1.3.0  | | | `-- is-arrayish@0.2.1  | | +-- pify@2.3.0  | | `-- strip-bom@2.0.0  | | `-- is-utf8@0.2.1  | +-- normalize-package-data@2.3.5  | | +-- hosted-git-info@2.1.5  | | +-- is-builtin-module@1.0.0  | | | `-- builtin-modules@1.1.1  | | +-- semver@5.3.0  | | `-- validate-npm-package-license@3.0.1  | | +-- spdx-correct@1.0.2  | | | `-- spdx-license-ids@1.2.2  | | `-- spdx-expression-parse@1.0.3  | `-- path-type@1.1.0  +-- require-directory@2.1.1  +-- require-main-filename@1.0.1  +-- set-blocking@2.0.0  +-- string-width@1.0.2  | +-- code-point-at@1.0.0  | | `-- number-is-nan@1.0.0  | `-- is-fullwidth-code-point@1.0.0  +-- which-module@1.0.0  +-- window-size@0.2.0  +-- y18n@3.2.1  `-- yargs-parser@2.4.1  `-- camelcase@3.0.0   -----> Caching build  Clearing previous node cache  Saving 2 cacheDirectories (default):  - node_modules  - bower_components (nothing to cache)  -----> Build succeeded!  +-- cheerio@0.20.0  +-- d3-queue@2.0.3  +-- request@2.74.0  +-- sqlite3@3.1.4  +-- to-markdown@2.1.0  `-- yargs@4.8.1   -----> Discovering process types  Procfile declares types -> scraper Injecting scraper and running... 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rows 10 / 6482

speech_id chamber debate_type debate_subject speaker_id speaker_name speech
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.3.3
Senate
LEAVE OF ABSENCE
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100034
George Campbell
by leave—I move: That leave of absence be granted to Senator Bishop for the period 27 February to 2 March 2006, on account of ill health. Question agreed to.
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.5.18
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100202
Nick John Sherry
On that basis the National Party could grab it every three years—you are right, Senator Murray. I am sure the National Party will be putting up their hands to grab that actuarial identified surplus for any manner of purposes. I also want to address this issue in the broader policy context of the impact of the ageing population on the budget. It seems to me that the government is trying to walk both sides of the street in this debate. On the one hand, you have the Treasurer, Mr Costello, talking about the ageing population, the _Intergenerational report_ and the need to ensure sustainable finances in respect of a range of policy long-term cost pressures as a consequence of the ageing population. On the other hand, the government has initiated a number of policies—and time does not allow me to go into any great detail today—which, because of the ageing population, will actually significantly increase liabilities in a number of expenditure areas, particularly in areas like health. So, on the one hand, it claims fiscal rectitude, long-term planning, responsibility and care about the ageing population and cost; and, on the other hand, in a number of policy areas on the expenditure side it has been increasing those costs—costs that will increase exponentially. The Future Fund as outlined in this particular bill is not what was announced. There are a number of issues that go to allowing direct ministerial intervention—ministerial powers of direction that are allowed in respect of the Future Fund and that may expose the fund to political interference and undercut the investment performance of the fund. We do not believe that it is appropriate that ministers should be able to issue powers of direction. In this case the trustees are called guardians. In effect, there is no difference between a guardian and a trustee. Apparently, the term ‘guardian’ is the personal terminology creation of the Treasurer. We know that much from Senator Minchin’s comments in estimates. We do not believe it appropriate that ministers, in this case the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance and Administration, should have powers of direction over the guardians or trustees. If the sole purpose is to maximise a rate of return commensurate with safety and to build up a fund to cover public sector super liabilities, ministers of the day should not have the power to direct and influence investment. If it were a Labor government proposing something like this, we would be accused of socialising the entire Australian economy—having Labor ministers in there with powers to direct and own every conceivable part of the Australian economy. Just imagine the hysteria of the Liberal Party criticising a Labor government with such powers. I move: At the end of the motion, add “but the Senate is of the view that:   (a)   the Future Fund should only invest on a prudent commercial basis and manage funds in a manner consistent with:               (i)    best practice portfolio management,              (ii)    achieving desired returns without undue risk to the fund as a whole,             (iii)    enhancing Australia’s reputation as a responsible and ethical investor, and             (iv)    building productive capacity in the Australian community; and   (b)   the income stream from the fund should be used for productive national economic purpose rather than being set aside solely to offset the cost of public sector superannuation as the Government intends”. _(Time expired)_
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.6.1
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100163
Andrew James Marshall Murray
The [Future Fund Bill 2005](http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:legislation/billhome/R2492) proposes establishing a financial asset fund to meet the Commonwealth’s current and projected future unfunded public sector superannuation obligations. This bill has the potential for a substantial long-term impact on the way the government manages its budget surpluses and asset sales proceeds. It might also have a significant accompanying impact on the way capital markets operate. The purpose of this bill is to establish a financial asset fund to meet the Commonwealth’s current and projected future unfunded public sector superannuation obligations. That current liability stands at about $90 billion and is projected to grow to about $140 billion by 2020\. This bill proposes the establishment of the Future Fund, the Future Fund Board of Guardians and the Future Fund Management Agency. Critical issues to consider include the quantum of funds that are projected to be under management, transparency, board accountability and adequate and accurate reporting. These are all critical factors. A number of issues arise right up front that relate to the exercise of shareholder ownership voting rights. How will the Future Fund Board of Guardians exercise the voting rights of the financial assets under their control? Will there be a flow-through of proxies from fund managers to the Future Fund? Who will determine the voting pattern of the board on key investment matters, and against what criteria? And will it be politically influenced in any way in the future? Ethical, socially responsible and so-called green investment policies are not discussed in the bill. Whilst there is merit in reserving investment decisions for the board, consideration should be given to limiting the investment in certain classes of financial assets such as tobacco. After all, this is a public sector body being set up in the national interest and it should be paying attention to issues such as those. Considering the importance of the decisions required in passing this bill, I note that the Senate wisely referred the bill to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee, which duly reported its findings yesterday following a somewhat rushed inquiry. Whilst it is the decision of the committee that the bill be passed, with some suggested areas of concern noted for government consideration, I still have a number of concerns about the Future Fund that I wish to raise in the Senate today. Some of the concerns pertain to the merit of the Future Fund as a concept and, assuming the concept is realised, how it can be implemented to ensure that principles such as accountability, independence, transparency and propriety are upheld. There are indeed questions as to why the existing mechanisms for dealing with public sector superannuation funds have not been retained and why it is not possible to improve or increase the funding in those funds in a manner similar to those taken up by the states and territories. I refer you to appendix 3 of the report, where there is a useful table showing how the states and territories have addressed that matter, and none have adopted a legislative framework as is proposed here. With regard to the merit of the Future Fund, one cannot ignore the scale of unfunded public sector superannuation. The Commonwealth’s unfunded public sector superannuation liability currently stands at approximately $90 billion, growing to approximately $140 billion by 2020—big bickies in anybody’s language. The government asserts that this is the single largest determinable forward liability and, as such, the purpose of the Future Fund is to make provision for more effective management of the Commonwealth’s balance sheet. The Future Fund is indeed one means of managing this liability, but it is not the only means. The current method of funding the annual portion of the liability out of current revenue could certainly continue. The government’s argument against this alternative is that the liability will impinge upon the financial strength of future generations, yet there are two arguments that dispute this opinion. Firstly, the 2002 _Intergenerational report_an excellent initiative by the Treasurer—asserts that unfunded government superannuation will fall, in fact halve, from 0.6 per cent of GDP in 2001-02 to 0.3 per cent in 2041-42, through the natural process of attrition in member numbers. A similar argument was presented to the committee by the expert witness Mr Kennedy and by the ACCI. Mr Kennedy stated that superannuation liabilities would level out in the future due to the falling number of members drawing down on unfunded superannuation commitments and that this liability is relatively insignificant compared with other unfunded and growing forward liabilities such as social welfare, including age pensions. However, it is asserted that future social welfare cannot be reliably measured and, as such, is not recognised as a liability for balance sheet purposes. From a commonsense perspective, as opposed to a technical perspective, that is a poor argument as it is certainly possible to credibly estimate future welfare obligations. Regarding the accounting principle of a defined liability, from a balance sheet accounting perspective the recognition principle means that a liability is recognised—and, as the government asserts, is determinable—only once it can be reliably measured and is a probable future expense. Problems with measurement and timing do not mean that such unfunded obligations are not going to occur—there is simply greater uncertainty about questions of how much and when. Thus it is wise to not stick one’s head in the sand but, rather, acknowledge that, yes, there is consensus that social welfare, including age pension obligations, rather than unfunded public sector superannuation is the single greatest financial obligation facing future Australian generations; and, yes, while there is uncertainty about the quantum and timing of such obligations, they will still be very large. More importantly, diverting public money to the Future Fund to ease the financial pressure of future generations is erroneous in the sense that there is a need to recognise the opportunity cost of an investment in the Future Fund because there will be less investment available in areas such as health, the environment, infrastructure, tax reform and social welfare. Those areas of reform would also benefit future generations and ease their financial burden. Indeed, such investments have the added benefit of boosting productivity and stimulating the economy, unlike the priority of a Future Fund which is to merely meet a future expense. Of course, I recognise that there is an indirect intention, because if you invest in the Future Fund you invest in the capital markets, and capital markets invest in productive activities. So you cannot completely discount the beneficial effects of that investment. Prioritising unfunded public sector superannuation, a defined liability with an extant method of funding, is equivalent to avoiding other undefined but equally pressing reform options—options with far better future economic and social outcomes. The ACCI is correct in asserting that there is an opportunity cost associated with placing the money in the Future Fund when there are alternative present uses for it. The government responds with the view that the Future Fund is an ‘ex-post’ fund—that is, a fund which receives contributions only after all other investment decisions have been made. In other words, it is a genuine surplus after you have completed your budgetary intentions. But this is a notional assurance. It offers no protection for alternative investments or budget decisions of either a current or capital nature, since such alternatives can be easily avoided through policy setting and prioritising. Otherwise stated, an ‘ex-post’ fund can receive the entire surplus if no other investment decisions are made or if such decisions are not a priority for the government of the day. Indeed, the long-term perspective raises other worrying concerns, as suggested by Mr Kennedy at the inquiry into this bill. He stated: In being created as such a long-term strategy, the Future Fund would inevitably find itself under the stewardship of different future governments and parliaments with, perhaps, a vastly different make-up to what we have come to expect, and for whom the policy agenda, and associated political and fiscal priorities, may profoundly differ from the present. The inquiry did agree that it is not possible to completely insulate the Future Fund and that future governments will be able to change the law regardless of what are seen to be the prudential underpinnings of the bill. Thus, this is an obvious risk that arises from this form of financial planning undertaken by the government. It is important to recognise that it is a greater risk than the existing manner in which superannuation is managed. If, as is obviously likely, the Future Fund becomes a reality—because the government has the numbers and, anyway, there is support from the opposition for this concept—the relevant question to ask is: what steps should be implemented to ensure the highest fiduciary standards apply to the management and stewardship of the fund? Considering the quantum of funds that are projected to be under management, from the Democrats’ perspective, corporate governance, transparency, independence, board accountability and adequate and accurate reporting are critical factors that must be instituted if the fund is to be successful. Furthermore, they must be monitored and they must be responded to if they are inadequate. Key priorities in this area include a well-defined code of conduct for the board of guardians, including transparent processes, appointments on merit and well-defined conflict of interest safeguards. On the investment mandate side of things, there must be an ethical investment policy, a high level of independent professional analysis and the diligent exercise of voting on important matters. I was pleased to note the suggestion from Mr Sandy Easterbrook of Corporate Governance International that the Future Fund provides a major opportunity to be a market leader in terms of best practice voting policy and engagement with companies in which a shareholding is held. The government should not resile from that obligation to be a leader in modern, accountable, ethical and advanced market participation by investment funds. As I have already stated, these are crucial areas from the Democrats’ perspective. Mr Easterbrook stated: It is now accepted that best practice is that funds should vote their shares in all cases and should make sure that their voting is well considered. I concur with the ideal of voting occurring in all cases, and I would encourage the government to adopt this practice as a matter of principle for the Future Fund. However, I recognise that investment managers are not always equipped to vote on all matters and they need to develop the abilities to do so. So my amendment, which will be put out later, only mandates voting in three key areas. As I said earlier, there are questions relating to voting that need to be answered. They need to be determined in the founding principles and obligations that are applied to the board of guardians, and not later on. The government must put down its expectations. It must say how the Future Fund Board of Guardians will exercise, in general, the voting rights of the financial assets under their control. They must not have a hands-off approach to voting, in my view. It must indicate that there should be a flow-through of proxies and that proxies should be exercised. It should ask the board to be specific as to how they determine their votes. And, of course, the government must put in as many protections as it can to prevent or limit future political interference in the way in which the funds are employed. The OECD principles of corporate governance, which were put out in January 2004, say the following concerning disclosure of voting: The exercise of ownership rights by all shareholders, including institutional investors, should be facilitated. Institutional investors acting in a fiduciary capacity should disclose their overall corporate governance and voting policies with respect to their investments, including the procedures that they have in place for deciding on the use of their voting rights. That is a very strong injunction for these sorts of funds not only to be participants in the market process but to be very clear, transparent and public about what their policy is. The OECD principles also state: The voting record of such investors should also be disclosed to the market on an annual basis. The Democrats believe that the trustees and managers of superannuation funds and managed investment schemes have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their members and beneficiaries. We believe that a trustee can only satisfy their fiduciary obligations by taking an active interest in material corporate governance activities of their equity investments. That active interest requires them to develop an informed and professional understanding of these matters. Material corporate governance activities would include voting on three key matters, and in our view these are the three that matter most: on any constitutional issue—in other words, any change to the constitution of a company; on any decision affecting the election of directors; and on the remuneration packages of directors. We note that Mr Easterbrook of Corporate Governance International goes further, but we believe that at least voting on these three matters should be mandatory. The Democrats will attempt to amend the legislation to extend the requirement to vote on material corporate governance resolutions to the Future Fund managers. Responses from Treasury and the Department of Finance and Administration about the exercise of voting rights for the Future Fund were decidedly and deliberately vague. Clause 24 of the bill was referred to as a suitable guiding principle ‘in a broad sense’. It is not. It is an invitation to a laissez-faire approach, it is an invitation to a hands-off approach, and in my view it is a derogation of responsibility. To put it frankly, the government need to set founding principles which clearly establish issues of public and national interest leadership in ethical corporate and investment governance. They clearly need to spell out—and they have the ability to do so—what they expect from that board. Corporate governance and investment principles are not about broad and vague policies. They are about specificity, what can be done and what cannot be done—and in making those remarks I refer you to books such as the _Blue Book: Corporate governance—A guide for fund managers and corporations_, issued by the Investment and Financial Services Association Ltd, which are clear attempts to be specific about these matters. A broad, vague reference to what may or may not apply, conditional upon this or that, merely has the opposite effect of reducing transparency, crippling corporate governance structures and reducing responsible market behaviour. Appointments on merit are another longstanding Democrat initiative that we continue to pursue and which have direct applicability to the Future Fund Board of Guardians. Wherever appointments are made to institutions set up by legislation, independent statutory authorities or quasi-government agencies, the processes by which these appointments are made should be transparent, accountable, open and honest. It is still the case that appointments to statutory authorities are left largely to the discretion of ministers with the relevant portfolio responsibility. There is no umbrella legislation that sets out a standard procedure regulating the procedures for the making of appointments. Perhaps most importantly, there is no external scrutiny by an independent body of the procedure and merits of appointments. An independent body should be given the responsibility of scrutinising government appointments against a set of established criteria. This system works well in the United Kingdom since the 1995 Nolan commission. Lord Nolan managed to persuade the UK government to accept that appointments should be based on merit. Lord Nolan set out key principles to guide and inform the making of such appointments. These include: a minister should not be involved in an appointment where he or she has a financial or personal interest; ministers must act within the law, including the safeguards against discrimination on grounds of gender or race; all public appointments should be governed by the overriding principle of appointment on merit, except in limited circumstances; political affiliation should not be a criterion for appointment; selections on merit should take account of the need to appoint boards that include a balance of skills and backgrounds; the basis on which members are appointed and how they are expected to fulfil their roles should be explicit; and the range of skills and backgrounds that are sought should be clearly specified. In response to the Nolan committee’s recommendations, the United Kingdom government subsequently created the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which has a similar level of independence from the government as the Australian Auditor-General, to provide an effective avenue of external scrutiny. The Democrats have used the Nolan committee’s recommendations in our persistent campaign for appointments on merit amendments in various items of legislation because they are tried and tested. Meritorious appointments are the essence of accountability. We will move appointment on merit amendments to this bill, even though we know that this government will reject, probably for the 30th time, the idea of appointments on merit.
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.7.1
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100232
John Odin Wentworth Watson
I rise today to add my support to the government’s [Future Fund Bill 2005](http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:legislation/billhome/R2492). This bill is a very positive initiative to minimise future impacts brought about by past unfunded superannuation obligations on the Commonwealth. For years, legitimate criticism has been levelled at various governments about the size of this unfunded liability. Over past years, we have seen most state governments, in one way or another, move to fund their superannuation liabilities. The Commonwealth has indeed been a leader, particularly under this coalition government, because it has shifted from what is known as a defined benefits system to a defined contributions system. Nevertheless, we are left with the legacy of legal liabilities in respect of superannuation from the build-up in past years. There are a range of reasons why dealing with this unfunded liability now is important, not least of which is the equity issue inherent in any intergenerational transfer of wealth or liabilities. Why should future generations unnecessarily pay for the largesse of former generations? Currently, we all know that, because of the good government of this country, Australia is enjoying a remarkable period of strong economic health and growth. So during this time the Howard government has very astutely retired something like $97 billion of government debt, largely from the sale of assets, and has conscientiously kept the Commonwealth budget in surplus. I regret that this is not a practice that is currently being followed by all state governments, despite the large amount of GST revenue building up their revenue base. The Future Fund Bill will continue that tradition of leaving our future generations in the strongest possible position, and I therefore endorse it. We have no guarantee that future generations will necessarily enjoy the same benefits that we do now, particularly if we are headed by a different government to the one currently leading this nation. Indeed, with our ageing population, it is almost certain that there will be problems in the future. Therefore, it is prudent to ensure that the debts accrued by today’s generation, and past generations, are paid for by today’s generation. Submissions to the committee inquiry outlined a number of concerns about the Future Fund Bill, not the least of which being that the Future Fund will be used as a hollow log. This concern is a flipside of the equity issue that I raised earlier, as we do not intend the Future Fund to be used as some form of piggybank to be raided on a rainy day and used for all manner of purposes. While this is a valid concern, it is a concern that the bill attempts to address. The bill implements a number of safeguards on the manner in which moneys can be released from the fund and ensures that the fund will not be used for non-superannuation purposes. There is a big difference between the Howard government and the ALP. What do we find with the ALP? The ALP produced a second reading amendment which shows them in their true colours. While the government has legislatively attempted to ensure that the moneys set aside and built up by the accumulated revenue within the Future Fund are not used for purposes other than superannuation, the ALP have no such intention. They take an entirely different view, and we see this quite openly and opaquely in Senator Sherry’s second reading amendment. The second reading amendment says: (2) the income stream from the Fund— according to Senator Sherry and the ALP— should be used for productive national economic purposes rather than being set aside solely to offset the cost of public sector superannuation as the Government intends. Here in the open is a manifestation of the Labor Party’s trickery.
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.7.10
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100202
Nick John Sherry
Shock, horror!
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.7.11
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100232
John Odin Wentworth Watson
They say, ‘Shock, horror!’ It is indeed shock, horror—and I think I have a responsibility during this debate to outline the subterfuge of the Labor Party. While supporting this, they take a hollow log type approach to it. I think that needs to be said. Another concern has been expressed by some that the money should be spent on tax cuts, infrastructure and any number of other good projects and agendas. The obvious reply here is that it is possible to address the sleeping bear issue of unfunded superannuation liabilities and at the same time implement tax cuts—and I am confident that, in the coming budget in May this year, we will see reforms in this area. In some ways, tax cuts are a bottomless pit and can exacerbate the intergenerational transfer of wealth problem which I mentioned earlier. Putting off to tomorrow what you can do today is never good policy and could well be disastrous as the Commonwealth gathers more and more obligations with fewer taxpayers well into the future because of our ageing population. On a more positive note, the previous action of eliminating the old defined benefit system plus the increasing value for public servants from the growing accumulation funds will mean that the Commonwealth superannuation obligations will peak and then fall as a percentage of GDP over coming decades. These reforms will further assist in softening the cash flow of future superannuation payouts and the general growth in accumulated funds nationwide will soften the blow of the aged pensions needed for our expanding number of retiring Australians. The current liability for unfunded superannuation is something of the order of $90 billion. Some have criticised the need for the Future Fund, saying that the discharge of the unfunded superannuation—met on an annual basis by payments from consolidated revenue as the legal payments become due—represents only a small percentage of GDP. While this percentage argument might be true, it does not mean that the Future Fund should not be established. I believe that the challenge for the board will be to keep administrative and operational costs down, achieve their benchmark return rates and efficiently and effectively discharge their obligations to Australian taxpayers. I believe there could be a number of minor refinements to the bill—and I am sure that the government will take my points on board. With respect to the manner in which the board members are appointed, I would like to see a more formal system put in place—a system which shows a degree of openness and transparent scrutiny of all the candidates to ascertain the merit of their appointment and independence. I believe this is important for two reasons: firstly, to ensure that all board members are eminently qualified and able to carry out their duties—$18 billion of taxpayers’ money deserves capable overseers; and, secondly, to restore and maintain public confidence in the way taxpayers’ money is handled, particularly by people outside the parliament. I have also looked at the issue of the ownership of Telstra shares and how this transfer should be handled, because this can have ownership implications for Telstra as well as some taxation implications. In fact, I think Telstra is somewhat justified in calling for some notification of when the government intends to transfer Telstra shares to the Future Fund. That said, I believe that the time frame of 60 days requested by Telstra is far too generous. Telstra needs to get its act together. Perhaps a fortnight would be a more appropriate time frame than what Telstra has submitted. Telstra initially had some concerns regarding the potential tax implications of a transfer of Telstra shares to the Future Fund. Central to Telstra’s concern is the interpretation of section 8AYD of the Telstra Corporation Act 1991\. We have been advised by the Department of Finance and Administration that the intention of this section was to remove certain powers that the Commonwealth currently has due to its controlling interest in Telstra. It was not intended, according to the Department of Finance and Administration, to have any application to determining the ownership of the company for taxation purposes. The Department of Finance and Administration then went on to say that the department is working constructively with Telstra on this matter and that currently the department is optimistic that any issues are capable of being resolved administratively and, at the same time, is not convinced of the need for any change to either the Future Fund Bill 2005 or the Telstra act, as suggested by Telstra in its submission and in a number of press releases. The Senate economics report addresses both these issues quite satisfactorily. To conclude, the Future Fund Bill is a very prudent piece of economic management ensuring that we as a generation meet our obligations, particularly in circumstances of strong and significant budget surpluses. I strongly urge my fellow senators to give their support to the bill without the Labor Party’s atrocious amendment.
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.8.1
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100107
Gary John Joseph Humphries
Like Senator Watson, I rise to commend the government for this far-sighted and important step in securing the future of Australia’s fiscal and economic stability. Also—on a more personal level, in a sense—I commend the government for having the foresight to provide for the superannuation requirements of many of my constituents, who obviously will benefit more directly from provisions of this kind, which provide for the future retirement needs of Commonwealth public servants. Of course, these funds will also be available to secure the retirement incomes of members of the federal parliament, but that is a matter I note only as a small aside. The fact is that a measure of this kind is extremely important and makes an important provision for the capacity of the next couple of generations of Australians to meet not only their obligations to their community but also those of the previous generation of public servants who reach retirement age. Why do we need to do this? Very simply, the Commonwealth’s unfunded superannuation liability at this moment stands at about $90 billion. That is an enormous amount of money, approaching half of the total annual expenditure of the Commonwealth in any given year. By 2020, less than 15 years from now, that figure will reach $140 billion, approximately two-thirds of today’s annual Commonwealth expenditure. So to ignore the implications of these facts or to suggest that somehow those who are making public policy in 2020 will be able to cover that kind of liability is laissez-faire nonchalance. It is bad governance, it is foolish and it is grossly unfair to the next generation of Australian taxpayers. I am proud to say that the Australian government has seen that need and has seen that a fund of this kind is important to guarantee intergenerational equity and also to ensure that Australia is able to continue to project a strong sense of economic and fiscal responsibility in its management of its obligations to both public servants and, in particular, people such as members of the Australian Defence Force. Financial security is an essential part of human security. I am happy to say that the government is taking steps to secure the retirement funds of young men and women who are serving Australia’s interests today in difficult and dangerous conditions around the world. It may be unsexy, it may be even a little boring, to put so much money away into a fund of this kind to cover the superannuation payments required for current public servants. But it is a responsibility that we all bear. If we do not make provision for that obligation we run the serious risk that, at that point in the future, either those liabilities will not be met or, perhaps slightly more likely, they will be met but at a great cost to the capacity of the next generation of Australian taxpayers to fund other important social objectives. I mentioned a moment ago the issue of fairness. Australia is getting older. I read in the newspaper that we are getting a little bit fatter as well. Perhaps we are getting a little bit wiser. But, whatever the concomitant conditions, we are definitely getting older.
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.8.6
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100202
Nick John Sherry
Fatter and wiser!
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.8.7
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100107
Gary John Joseph Humphries
As Senator Sherry said, getting wiser as well. Obviously my speech is proof of that fact!
uk.org.publicwhip/lords/2006-02-28.8.8
Senate
FUTURE FUND BILL 2005
Second Reading
uk.org.publicwhip/lord/100202
Nick John Sherry
Self-praise!

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