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Tuesday, 15 November 1983
Page: 2659


Mr PEACOCK —Will the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations indicate what he had in mind when he urged parties in the building industry to go away and come up with another deal? Does he consider that achieving an increase through the back door method of superannuation payments would be within the wage guidelines? Does he agree that the whole aim of wage restraint is to reduce costs and inflation? If so, how does paying increases in a way which circumvents the guidelines reduce costs and inflation?


Mr WILLIS —The question from the Leader of the Opposition is not entirely unexpected. Of course, we have regarded the maintenance of the building industry agreement which the Government supported and which has now been rejected by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as important for industrial relations purposes. The parties have been through a negotiating process for a long time in an industry which has been marked by great industrial turmoil in the past, and this agreement offered the prospect of two years of industrial peace. In suggesting that this matter could go before the Commission under the anomalies provision, we said to the Commission that our support for the agreement was on the basis that the Commission found that there was no likelihood of its flowing on beyond the building and construction industry. In the event, the Commission found that it would flow on beyond the building and construction industry and therefore it did not uphold the agreement. That was not a rejection of the Government's position. Our support for the agreement was specifically on the basis that it would not flow on to other industries. I said after the Commission made its decision that we would ask the parties to reconsider ways in which they might still hold this package together. I believe it is in the interests of the country that this agreement should hold together and that the efforts of the parties over such a long period in trying to put together a package which provides the prospect of industrial peace should not be allowed to dissipate. The parties are to report back to the Commission on 22 November.

One of the ways in which the parties could possibly consider achieving the objectives of the package would be to consider a superannuation package for the industry. This, in fact, was in contemplation in the agreement. One of the provisions of the agreement was that, after a year's delay, there would be negotiation of a superannuation scheme. We are suggesting to the parties-some of them have already thought of it-that they could bring that provision forward and try to establish a superannuation scheme much more quickly than had been contemplated originally. That seems to me a way in which the package can be maintained. This is one of the few industries in the country which have virtually no superannuation. It seems to me that this is a way in which the objectives of the package can be maintained and that the wage principles will not be damaged by the establishment of such a superannuation scheme.