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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2878

Mr HUNT(10.55) —The National Party of Australia is totally opposed to clauses 41 and 42 of this Bill because they do in fact contain the equal employment opportunity provisions of the legislation. They deal with the equal employment opportunity program which, as I mentioned earlier, places inordinate burdens upon management of the Australian Wool Corporation when there is no evidence at all that there has been any discrimination in that organisation.

The National Party has no objection whatsoever to employees or staff being engaged on the basis of merit. But there are provisions within the equal employment opportunity legislation that we regard as unnecessary impositions and government intervention in the work place. The National Party has already opposed the equal employment opportunity legislation. It is not prepared to allow such provisions to stand in the body of the legislation now before us. Among the major concerns that we had with the Equal Employment Opportunity (Commonwealth Authorities) Bill 1987 was the imposition of quotas which effectively, in substance, were proposed in that legislation. Such a move would impose employment conditions which have been neither arbitrated nor agreed upon. It was clear from the definition of `employee' that the Government's intention was to apply the Bill not only to employees but also to independent contractors. This was unacceptable, as was the clear intention of applying the Bill to so-called designated groups, a move which would have given that Bill an excessively wide, vague and uncertain operation.

I acknowledge that the Corporation, although it does not like these clauses, is not opposed to clauses 41 and 42 because it believes that clause 43 ensures that it can appoint staff according to merit without reference to gender. But we see this as unnecessary window dressing for political purposes. As far as we are concerned, we are totally opposed to that legislation. We believe it is social engineering. Government intervention is not necessary when there is a merit provision in the Bill. I repeat, on behalf of the National Party, that we are totally opposed to these clauses.