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Monday, 3 March 2003
Page: 8901


Senator MURRAY (6:26 PM) —Last time we debated this amendment we accepted some of the reasons from the minister at the table but recognised that the intent was right. I should draw the attention of the chamber to the latest statistics which I have from the department. At a recent hearing, I asked the officer at the table, `Is reinstatement a lost cause?' The figures for the years since 1996 reveal that only 0.2 per cent of all applications eventually go to reinstatement. I thought, `Let's break that down; let's deal with only those applications which actually go to conciliation.' All the rest have been discontinued or settled and so on. The figure jumps up to only two per cent. If you accept the general judgment that half of all application cases are decided in favour of the employer anyway, you could double the figure again: it is still only four per cent. So it is awfully low.

What I asked the department to put their heads around—and, if you were interested, you could see this on the record—is whether they should develop some kind of incentive scheme to encourage reinstatement. I am just not sure, given the answers I got from the officers, that we actually have any clear idea as to why reinstatement does not work, when it is a clear objective of the government and the act, and the opposition and the unions and everybody else support it. It just does not happen. I think, as yet, the legislative description the opposition has arrived at will not cure the disease, so I am going to retain a situation of caution and vote against it at this stage. But I remain sympathetic.

Question negatived.