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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 372

Mr ROCHER —Is the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations aware that a couple of weeks ago the national wage case bench was advised that certain employers in the building industry look like reaching an agreement which, amongst other things, will provide for a general increase to allowances of 19.8 per cent and the introduction of a new allowance of $7.50 per week called a building industry recovery procedures allowance? Does the Government intend to intervene in proceedings due to commence soon before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the Government agree that the proposal constitutes a sectional increase and, therefore, is contrary to the Government's intention that there should be a return to a centralised wage fixing system? If so, does the Government intend to oppose the proposed increases?

Mr WILLIS —The question asked whether I am aware of the agreement. Yes, I am. By the way, the agreement was finalised today in respect of all unions except the Plumbers and Gasfitters Employees Union of Australia which, apparently, would not accept the proposal in regard to no ticket-no start. The procedure now is that the parties will go to the Commission tomorrow before Mr Justice Ludeke who will then set a date for a Full Bench to hear the ratification application. The question asked whether we will intervene in that case. Yes, we will. In fact, we have already appeared before the Commission indicating our intention to intervene. I have been asked whether this is a sectional claim. I think the Prime Minister has already covered this ground fully in the answer given to the previous question. But I can say, in perhaps a slight elaboration of that, that of course the Government is concerned about any sectional claim. It is concerned about the cost of the package in regard to the building industry and particularly the implications for flow-on.

It is clear that that is a matter of concern to us. Indeed, we shall be taking it up in the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In regard to the flow-on implications, we are concerned particularly about that part of the package to which the honourable member referred, known as the building industry recovery procedures allowance-otherwise known as BIRPA, which I suppose connotes an element of indigestibility. We shall be giving full consideration to the implications of that, particularly in respect of any possibility of flow-ons and bearing in mind what that could do in regard to general wages policy. When the matter comes before the Commission, on a date yet to be set, we shall be elaborating on that concern and putting a detailed submission to the Commission.