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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 117

Mr BEVIS —My question is to the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business. Is it the case that Mr Des Moore has produced a report at your request which recommends that minimum wages should be cut in real terms? Can you confirm that Mr Moore's report cost Australian taxpayers $35,000? Minister, why should Australian workers, who have been expected to work harder for longer hours with greater stress and less job security, take any notice of this report when the taxpayer has paid Mr Moore about double the yearly minimum wage to recommend that they should get less?

Mr REITH (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —The Labour Ministers Council is a meeting of state and Commonwealth ministers and, as part of the process of the Labour Ministers Council, it was agreed that a report would be commissioned from Des Moore at a cost of $35,000. The agreement amongst members of the LMC is that those governments which support the proposed project will fund the project. Some are in it.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr REITH —Obviously, the Labor Party ones would not be in it. As to the cost, I think it is $35,000, which I would have to say is a very reasonable figure for the report which he has prepared. The report has not yet been released, but it will be released as it will be presented to the LMC which is meeting at the end of the month. In terms of the contents of the report, they simply establish the argument for further deregulation of the labour market. The bottom line of his proposal is that if we had a more deregulated market then we would be able to create many more jobs.

Mr Bevis —It is a reduction of minimum wages in real terms.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The member for Brisbane has asked his question.

Mr REITH —The only point I would make to the opposition shadow minister is to say that any proposition which is forcefully argued and which is proposing changes to create hundreds of thousands of jobs deserves to be looked at. It deserves to be the subject of reasoned and informed public debate. When you have got that report then you can make, hopefully, an informed and reasoned contribution to it.

I am not surprised that the Labor Party would want to attack Des Moore personally because, when Des Moore was running the IPA, he put out an IPA backgrounder which revealed that the Labor Party in government was funding unions—which he estimated at a cost of $130 million to $140 million a year. So, instead of attacking Des Moore personally, why don't you wait until the report is published?