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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13051

Senator JACINTA COLLINS (7:49 PM) —I take this opportunity to make some general comments in relation to the Australian Democrat amendments, and this one in particular. I appreciate Senator Murray's apology in relation to the timing of these amendments but also join with him in his surprise that we are dealing with these details at this stage of the session. In general terms I should indicate the Labor Party's position. We have been unable to work through some of these issues with our state colleagues in terms of the significant impacts some of these measures might have on them. Whilst we appreciate the Australian Democrats' attempt to ameliorate some of the excesses of this bill, given the timing involved in this process we have had limited opportunity to work through and check the impacts of some of the Democrats' proposals.

Certainly at this stage we have a general position, which I have already elaborated on in the second reading debate, and that is that this is bad law and it has been developed through bad process. Successful process is most likely, as I am sure Senator Murray would concur, to be achieved through consensus with state governments. This has not occurred. I am not aware that it has occurred with respect to the Democrats' amendments, although we understand the sentiment in attempting to redress some of the problems.

This particular amendment regarding the commencement date really leaves the government with the choice of two bad bills, in our view. Whilst I can understand that Senator Murray would hope that an amended Workplace Relations Amendment (Termination of Employment) Bill 2002, as suggested here by the Democrats—or perhaps with some even further improvements if we were talking about future second bites—would be an improvement, we would not see at this time this bill being significantly superior to, as Senator Murray has coined it, the `fairly dismal' bill. For that reason we will be opposing this amendment in particular but also the other amendments put forward by the Democrats.