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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4825


Senator MURRAY (12:02 PM) —Before moving my next amendment, I apologise for the fact that there is a typographical error which I did not pick up. If honourable senators refer to amendment (4) on sheet 2621 Revised, in the heading which begins with `1C' the subsection should read `170MW(2)', not `1710MW(2)'. With that correction, I move the amendment:

(4) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 2), after item 1, insert:

1C After subsection 170MW(2)

Insert:

(2C) In considering whether or not a negotiating party has met or is meeting its obligations to genuinely try to reach an agreement with the other negotiating parties, the Commission must consider whether or not the party has or is bargaining in good faith. Bargaining in good faith includes:

(a) agreeing to meet face-to-face at reasonable times proposed by another party;

(b) attending meetings that the party has agreed to attend;

(c) complying with negotiating procedures agreed to by the parties;

(d) disclosing relevant information, subject to appropriate undertakings as to confidentiality, for the purposes of negotiations;

(e) stating a position on matters at issue, and explaining that position;

(f) considering and responding to proposals made by another negotiating party;

(g) adhering to commitments given to another negotiating party or parties in respect of meetings and responses to matters raised during negotiations;

(h) dedicating sufficient resources and personnel to ensure genuine bargaining;

(i) not capriciously adding or withdrawing items for negotiation;

(j) not refusing or failing to negotiate with one or more of the parties;

(k) in or in connection with the negotiations, not refusing or failing to negotiate with a person who is entitled under this Part to represent an employee, or with a person who is a representative chosen by a negotiating party to represent it in the negotiations;

(l) in or in connection with the negotiations, not bargaining with, attempting to bargain with or make offers to persons other than another negotiating party, about matters which are the subject of the negotiations;

(m) any other matters which the Commission considers relevant.

The purpose of the amendment is to make that link which I think is an insight we have come to, and hopefully the parliament will come to. It was provoked by Labor's amendment, which caused me to think that they were on the right track in trying to put this issue back into law. I have not been quite as expansive as them but, as I said earlier, I have shamelessly adopted some of their language here.

The reason that I think it is very important to include it is that, as I said earlier, I think the government is dead right: you need to find means by which you can really put some emphasis behind `genuinely trying to reach agreement'. I have attached this amendment to 170MW. As I said earlier, it is in contrast to Labor's approach, which was to include it at the outset, in 170MK. I have put it in so that where there is a breakdown the commission is able to make reference to these things and ask, `Did you really get on with the business of bargaining properly or were you either going through the motions or deliberately disrupting and damaging the bargaining process?'

I think this amendment does a great deal to improve the operation of 170MW, which covers the power of the commission to suspend or terminate the bargaining period. It falls under subsection (2). As I have emphasised several times during this consideration, that is the subsection which has been most difficult for the commission to assess in terms of the behaviour of the parties. When I say `most difficult' I mean that it is most difficult relative to the greater ease with which you can address such circumstances under 170MW(3), which refers to endangering life, personal safety and health and damage to the economy, or under other sections, which refer to complying with the orders.