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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13057


Senator MURRAY (8:18 PM) —I will later on, but not yet. I seek leave to move amendments (2) and (5) on sheet 2955 together.

Leave granted.


Senator MURRAY —I move:

(2) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 12), after item 1, insert:

1A At the end of section 14

Add:

(2) Subject to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, applications for a remedy for termination of employment received by the Australian Industrial Registrar must initially be considered for conciliation by a person who is both a member of the Commission and a member of the prescribed industrial authority of that State from which the application originated.

(5) Schedule 1, page 4 (after line 30), after item 4, insert:

4B Subsection 170CD(1)

Insert:

Commission also includes state industrial authority.

Concerns were raised by the states—and I say to the chamber that I have consulted with a number of people in the states—that a federal unfair dismissal system which covered the field would lead to reductions in the resourcing of state industrial tribunals and hence their ability to perform their other roles. Apparently unfair dismissal takes up a vast amount of state commissions' times— which is a bit of a shame when you consider that there are much more important things to be done in the field of industrial relations. Concern was also raised that workers in regional and rural areas who currently can attend local courts visited by state commissioners would incur increased costs to attend the federal commission, which some expected would be based solely in capital cities. My first thought was to mandate that state commissioners would have to deal with these for the Commonwealth, but of course I cannot do that constitutionally. So this really enshrines a principle which is already established: Commonwealth and states share these jurisdictions, I think, in two states. The intention is simply to ask, subject to an agreement—which there would have to be between the Commonwealth and the respective states—that members of those commissions could share the duties in this area.