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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13267

Senator Sherry asked the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, upon notice, on 17 June 2003:

(1) Is the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) aware of a telephone survey currently being conducted on freedom of association.

(2) Has the OEA commissioned a survey on freedom of association.

(3) Did the OEA commission the survey of its own initiative or was it requested to do so by the Minister or the department.

(4) Who has been contracted to conduct the survey.

(5) How was this contractor selected.

(6) What is the value of the contract.

(7) What instructions have been provided to the contractor.

(8) How have respondents to the survey been chosen.

(9) In which industries do respondents work.

(10) How many respondents are there.

(11) How is the survey being conducted.

(12) Can a copy of all questions asked in the survey be provided.

(13) Do respondents provide their names and contact details or is the survey anonymous.

(14) Will the circumstances of any individual respondent be further investigated by the OEA.

(15) Who will compile and interpret the results of the survey.

(16) When will the results of the survey be made available to: (a) the OEA; (b) the Minister; and (c) the public.

Senator Alston (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

(3) The OEA commissioned the survey on its own initiative.

(4) The Social Research Centre.

(5) The contractor was one of six consultants asked to provide a quotation for the freedom of association survey. The six consultants were sourced from a DEWR panel of consultants which was established via a public tender process. A selection panel comprising two staff members from the OEA and one staff member from DEWR evaluated the proposals.

(6) The contract is valued at just under $200,000.

(7) The OEA instructed the consultant to complete 3,141 interviews, with a minimum of 50 union members and 50 non union members in each of the 17 industry groupings and 100 union members and 100 non union members in each of the 8 occupational groupings.

(8) Respondents have been randomly selected via the Australian White Pages, with the exception of some respondents in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing and Mining industries. While most employees in these industries are expected to be found randomly, to obtain a minimum of 50 union members and 50 non union members in each industry the consultant recommended that specific postcodes known to have a high concentration of employees in these industries be targeted. Within the postcodes, employees are still randomly selected from the White Pages.

(9) The OEA has requested a minimum of 50 union members and 50 non union members in each of the 17 industry groupings.

(10) According to the most recent report from the Social Research Centre 2,900 interviews have been completed to date.

(11) The survey is being conducted via the telephone.

(12) It is not appropriate to release the survey questionnaire until all of the surveys are completed.

(13) The survey is anonymous.

(14) The circumstances of individual respondents will be identifiable by the OEA.

(15) The OEA will compile and interpret the results of the survey.

(16) It is not known at this stage when the results of the survey will be made available.