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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1632


Mr N.A. Brown(6.20) —I move:

(1) Clause 3, page 2, line 29, omit paragraph (b) of the definition of `employee'.

This Bill is intended to apply to Commonwealth authorities and to employees of those authorities. The definition of `employee' is as follows:

`employee' means a natural person appointed or engaged:

(a) under a contract of service, whether on a full-time, part-time, casual or temporary basis; or

(b) under a contract for services;

The amendment is to omit paragraph (b) of that definition of `employee'. It is clear that paragraph (a) of the definition is intended to cover employees properly so-called and that paragraph (b) of the definition is intended to cover independent contractors or those who have entered into arrangements other than a contract of service. If it were the intention of the Parliament simply to have this Bill applied to employees alone and the relationship between Commonwealth authorities and employees properly so-called it would be quite sufficient to have part (a) of the definition. To add part (b) of the definition is to add an additional notion and clearly conveys the intention to apply the Bill to relations between the Commonwealth authorities and independent contractors.

The Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) gave a perfunctory reply to this point in his reply in the second reading debate but I must say, with all respect, that it was a completely inadequate reply. The Opposition does not believe that it is proper or appropriate to govern the employment relations between authorities or, indeed, any employer on the one hand and independent contractors on the other. They make their own arrangements. They determine the fees for their services. They determine what they will charge. Within the price they fix they get compensation or their rights. They get what they want in return for the fee which is fixed or the contract price for their services. It is not necessary to have part (b) of the definition if all one wants to do is govern the relations between the Commonwealth authorities on the one hand and their employees on the other.

If one leaves in paragraph (b) of the definition one is endeavouring to provide a regime covering the relationship between contractors and Commonwealth authorities. They are determined not in this case by arbitration and not by agreement but are imposed by statute. That is not appropriate. It is contrary to the view we take of employment relationships. It is contrary to the way in which contractual relationships have always been determined in this country. Paragraph (b) of the definition is unnecessary and should be removed. For those reasons we maintain that our amendment should be agreed to.