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Wednesday, 2 December 1998
Page: 1150


Mr BEAZLEY —My question is directed to the minister, who has just sat down, on precisely the point about the shopies being absolutely right. Is the minister aware that Joe de Bruyn, the secretary of the shop assistants union, has heard his comments and has said:

Mr Reith has been confused by a reference in the submission to training wages and has tried to beat this up to look like a difference.


Mr SPEAKER —Your question?


Mr BEAZLEY —Is he also aware of the statement by Mr de Bruyn that:

He is just mischievously trying to manufacture allegations of a difference in order to try to divert attention away from the real issues.

Is he further aware of the statement by Mr de Bruyn:

The real issue being that, with junior rates, you have got discrimination and that is simply not acceptable in society today.

Minister, why did you try to misrepresent a sensible position on training wages as an endorsement for your position, now completely rejected by the SDA?


Mr REITH (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —I have certainly read Joe de Bruyn's remarks; in fact, I have got them here. Nothing he has said and nothing that you have said by way of argument in your question will deny the simple fact that the shopies are putting up our proposition. They are saying that you ought to have a system whereby people's wages are discounted to reflect their age. Why do they say that? They say that because `experience of life can give maturity and knowledge'. This is a huge problem for the Labor Party, a huge problem for all the ex-ACTU presidents who sit on the other side.

The fact is that Labor's policy, if it not prevented from being implemented, will see a lot of young people lose their jobs. The shopies know that. Sure, they are on a barbwire fence. They are in the ACTU, they are in the Labor Party and they want to make life as comfortable as possible for you, as usual. But it is very clear from their statement.


Mr Beazley —Read it in full.


Mr REITH —You can read any quote you like from it. The fact of the matter is that their proposition is absolutely in conformity with our basic proposition; that is, we ought to have discounted wages for young people, to reflect their circumstances and protect their jobs.

Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I have tolerated an unacceptable level of perpetual interjections from those on my left; I issue a general warning.


Mr Beazley —I seek leave to table the submission of the SDA so that people can make judgments themselves.


Mr SPEAKER —This seems to be an unwise exercise in tit for tat. Is leave granted for the Leader of the Opposition to table the documents he has?


Mr Reith —Yes. And I will table it.


Mr SPEAKER —If the minister is seeking the call, he needs to be on his feet. Is the minister seeking to table the document?


Mr Reith —I consider it tabled.


Mr SPEAKER —I will not consider it tabled until the minister rises.


Mr Reith —I am tabling it, with the relevant bits underlined.