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Wednesday, 10 February 1999
Page: 2406


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

(1) Before the 1998 federal general election, did the Government undertake to introduce legislation designed to protect absolutely the wage entitlements of Australian workers if their employer became insolvent; if not, why not.

(2) Will he introduce legislation to protect absolutely the wage entitlements of Australian workers if their employer became insolvent; if not, why not; if so, when.


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

(1) No. The Government did, however, indicate that this was a matter under consideration—particularly given the neglect given to the issue by the previous Labor administration. The Government has referred the issue to the peak national council of State and Federal Workplace Relations Ministers, the Labour Ministers' Council (LMC) which has recognised the issue to be a joint State/Commonwealth responsibility. At its most recent meeting on 27 November 1998, LMC received a detailed report on policy issues arising which had been prepared by Commonwealth officers with the assistance of State departmental officers. All LMC members resolved, on a bipartisan political basis, that corporations law issues be pursued by the Commonwealth and States through the Ministerial Council for Corporations (MinCo) and that workplace relations issues be assessed by each jurisdiction. The problem is a complex one where counterveiling policy considerations require prudent assessment. This is what is occurring at Federal and State levels.

(2) See answer to question 1 above.