Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 6823


Senator ABETZ (TasmaniaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:38): by leave—I withdraw business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name for today relating to the disallowance of the Fair Work, (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) and business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name for 9 November 2011 relating to the disallowance of the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) as contained in Select Legislative Instrument 2011 No.144 and made under the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Act 2009. I seek leave to make a brief statement of no longer than two minutes.

Leave granted.

Senator ABETZ: I thank the Senate. On behalf of Senator Sue Boyce, Alex Somlyay MHR, George Christensen MHR, Jane Prentice MHR and Fiona Simpson MLA, who have worked with me on this issue, and the office of the Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, Senator Chris Evans, I thank the minister for accepting that there are issues in relation to this regulation that require its withdrawal. That has been recognised graciously by the minister in two letters to me bearing the date of 22 September 2011. I seek leave to table those letters and also have them incorporated in Hansard because they provide the explanation for the withdrawal.

Leave granted.

The letters read as follows—

Office of Senator Chris Evans

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Senator Abetz

As you are aware the Government made the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Amendment Regulations 2011 (No. 1) (the Regulations) in good faith to ensure that employees in the social and community services (SACS) sector in Queensland receive and/or continue to receive the benefit of the 2009 Queensland Industrial Relations Commission pay equity decision.

The Regulations were made on 4 August 2011 arid would otherwise commence on 1 October 2011.

As a consequence of matters raised with the Government, including concerns about the employers named and the impact of the Regulation on some providers, I intend to make the attached statement.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

I have copied this letter to the Senator Brown Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Xenophon and Senator Madigan.

Yours sincerely

(Signed)

CHRIS EVANS

22 September 2011

MINISTER FOR JOBS, SKILLS AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS

The Queensland Pay Equity Regulations were issued on 4 August 2011 to meet an agreement with the Queensland Government at the time of referring their industrial relations powers, that SACS workers in Queensland would receive the benefit of the QIRC pay equity decision.

The Regulations include a schedule of employers who received additional funding from the Queensland Government following the state pay equity decision. The list was provided by the Queensland Government and confirmed by the Australian Services Union (Queensland Branch).

The Government is aware of concerns by some of those employers and peak organisations in the community services sector about the impact of the Regulations on some providers. Specifically:

the accuracy of the list of employers; and

the ability of some employers to meet the back pay requirements.

The Government is prepared, on a without prejudice basis, to consider those concerns and the impact of the back pay obligations.

The Government will commence a process to engage with the representatives of Queensland SACS providers, the Queensland Government and the ASU over the next few weeks to address these concerns.

To facilitate this, it is necessary that the current Queensland Pay Equity Regulations be repealed and replaced. The Government will withdraw the regulation.

SACS providers and employers in Queensland should be aware that it is the Government's intention to ensure that the current Queensland pay equity rates are paid to SACS workers from the 1 October 2011 as previously advised. This will be reflected in the replacement regulation.

CANBERRA

22 SEPTEMBER 2011

 

Senator Chris Evans

Leader of the Government in the Senate

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Senator Abetz

I understand you require additional information.

The repeal of the Fair Work (Transitional Provisions and Consequential Amendments) Amendments Regulations 2011 (No1) (the regulations) will be done by regulation. I intend to lodge the relevant documents with the Executive Council for consideration by the Governor General on the next available occasion.

The repeal regulations will commence on the date of their registration on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments. The Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing will ensure that the repeal regulations are registered on 30 September 2011, ahead of the 1 October 2011 commencement date of the existing regulations.

Yours sincerely

(Signed)

CHRIS EVANS

22 September 2011

Senator ABETZ: I thank the Senate. In the circumstances, I indicate that what we were seeking to do was protect a lot of the not-for-profit sector organisations in Queensland. I also provide an invitation to Senator Furner to withdraw the accusations that he made during the adjournment debate about my motivation and that of the coalition in seeking the disallowance of this regulation, given that the government has now seen sense itself. The inappropriate motives that were attributed to us on this side are now shown to be without foundation. There was a genuine issue at stake here. To all those who joined with the coalition in achieving this outcome, I say thankyou. I also say thankyou to the minister for addressing the problem in the manner that he did.