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Tuesday, 9 February 1999
Page: 2265

Mrs Crosio asked the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, upon notice, on 11 November 1998:

Did the 59th Labour Minister's Council (LMC) Meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, held on 1 May, 1998, consider the issue of protecting workers' entitlements in the event of their employer's insolvency; if so, (a) was it agreed to refer the matter to the Departments of Labour Standing Committee (DOLAC) for detailed consideration including consultation with all affected parties and the preparation of a report, (b) what is the current status of the report, (c) when will it be completed, (d) when will it be presented to the LMC, (e) is he able to say how long the LMC will deliberate on the report before making recommendations; if not, why not, and (f) will he provide an update on which individuals and groups have been consulted during the report's preparation; if not, why not.

Mr Reith (Workplace Relations and Small Business) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The 59th LMC on 1 May 1998 did consider the issue of protecting workers' entitlements in the event of their employer's insolvency.

(a) Yes,

(b) It has been completed,

(c) See above,

(d) It was presented on Friday, 27 November.

(e) At the LMC meeting on Friday, 27 November 1998, the Ministers resolved that possible options arising under the Corporations Law, aimed at preventing corporations and directors from avoiding payment of employee entitlements, should be referred to the Ministerial Council for Corporations. It was noted that the New South Wales Minister will be forwarding additional suggestions to the Ministerial Council for Corporations. The Ministers from jurisdictions of all political persuasions agreed to further consider workplace relations policy issues arising within their own jurisdictions and report back to the next meeting, expected to be in May next year, on what actions might be pursued.

(f) The Commonwealth consulted with: the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Insurance Council of Australia, the Law Council of Australia, and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The Commonwealth is not able to provide information on individuals or groups with whom the States and Territories consulted during the report's preparation.

I note that even in the past week the ACTU has reaffirmed the fact that this issue involves joint responsibility of Commonwealth and State governments of all political persuasions. The ACTU Council resolution of 3 December 1998 provided under the heading `Job Security—A Role for State Labor Governments' that "the ACTU in conjunction with State Labor Councils should seek to pursue a common legislative approach for all labor States."