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Tuesday, 13 May 1997
Page: 3359

Mr McMULLAN —My question is addressed to the Minister for Industrial Rela tions. What consideration is the government giving to the consequences of the closure of BHP at Newcastle for the hundreds of contracted workers who supply their labour to BHP but who are technically employed by various labour hire firms—that is over and above the 2,500? How will these workers receive any redundancy payments or other compensation for their loss of employment? What action does the government intend to help these workers and others in such a position in future redundancy situations?

Mr REITH —The arrangements between employers and subcontractors would obviously be a matter between the parties and would obviously be different from subcontractor to subcontractor. I would say, more generally, that it is incredible for the Labor Party to stand here and ask us questions about unemployment and people's prospects for employment in the future when you had the chance today to stand up and actually support a sensible measure that would give people a chance of a job in the future.

Do not think we are going to sit back and take this hypocrisy from you people. The reality is that you created one of the greatest fiascos in industrial relations law in the history of this country. Last year you stood against every attempt we made to change it. You actually supported the crazy Brereton scheme that we were trying to knock off, and which we successfully did. Then today you announced that you will oppose a sensible extension of that remedy which was introduced last year. You have no credibility—absolutely none. I tell you what, in your response to the budget tonight don't start talking to us about unemployment when you have this decision already announced.