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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 261

Senator BUTTON —On 21 August Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle asked me a question about Mr Justice Alley's letter in relation to the building industry. I am able to supply a supplementary comment to what I said the other day. I am advised that Mr Justice Alley's letter did in fact arise from concern within the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission that the main building industry awards are not being maintained as true paid rates awards. This concern was expressed by the national wage case Full Bench in its decision of the 23 September 1983 and again in a decision on 13 June 1984 when the national wage increase of 4.1 per cent was granted to building awards. I understand that building unions and the Australian Council of Trade Unions are meeting today to consider their position and, likewise, employers are to meet next week.

The Government considers that the parties should closely consider whether a change to the current arrangements for paid rates awards is warranted, or what changes to current practices are required to restore the awards to true paid rates awards. If conversion to minimum rates awards is to occur, negotiations on overaward payments and site allowances during the transition period, but also beyond, must be consistent with the commitments by building unions not to pursue extra claims outside the principles during the life of the current indexation system. The Government will consider its position in the light of these meetings and notes that the matter has been listed for hearing on 10 September, 1984. I recall that Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle asked me when the Government would make clear its position. We are watching those conferences. The date 10 September seems to be the date on which we would respond.