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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 29


Mr BEAZLEY (2:19 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and it goes to the last occasion on which he attempted to respond to somebody who had asked him how workers might protect themselves. I draw his attention to his suggestions that Australian workers could rely on their accountant to represent them in AWA negotiations. Does the minister expect nurses, social workers, cleaners, bricklayers and apprentices to all bring their accountants? Minister, to assist in negotiations should Australian workers also bring along their butlers to help them make the tea?


The SPEAKER —The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations will ignore the last part of the question.


Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —If the matters I outlined in my previous answer did not point to the absurdity of the case being mounted by the Leader of the Opposition, his question just did so. Why is that? The reality is that this government has put in place protections for workers who are looking at an AWA. Part of that protection is that a worker, an employee, can appoint a bargaining agent. That bargaining agent can be an official of the union or anybody that employee wishes to appoint. There may well be circumstances in which a worker would prefer to have their accountant appointed to be their bargaining agent. The reality is that a union official can be appointed as a bargaining agent. Mr Combet can be appointed as a bargaining agent.


Mr Albanese interjecting


The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Grayndler is warned!


Mr ANDREWS —Any person who is of sufficient expertise or interest in a matter can be chosen by an individual worker to serve as their bargaining agent. If they want Kim Beazley, they can have him.