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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15594

Dr WASHER (3:05 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Would the minister update the House on the spread of Australian workplace agreements, especially in my state of Western Australia? How are these helping to boost productivity and increase pay for Australian workers?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the member for Moore for his question. I can inform him that, in April, the number of Australian workplace agreements that have been registered since 1998 reached 334,000. Nearly 10,000 Australian workplace agreements were registered in April alone. That is a 50 per cent increase on April last year and a 100 per cent increase on April 2001.

It is not surprising that workers and managers should be embracing Australian workplace agreements, because they invariably mean better work practices and that means higher productivity, which means higher pay and higher profits can go hand in hand. According to the most recent available data, the average worker on an Australian workplace agreement earns $895 a week, compared to the average worker on a federally registered certified agreement who is earning only $721 a week.

I have been asked about Western Australia. I can inform the member for Moore that, under the Court government, there were more than 200,000 Western Australian workplace agreements. These were abolished by the incoming Gallop government and replaced by a form of individual contract subject not only to the no disadvantage test but also to a form of union veto. Since May of last year, there have been 37,000 Australian workplace agreements registered in Western Australia. How many Western Australian individual contracts have been registered? Not 10,000, not 1,000, not even 100—just 12 Western Australian individual contracts have been registered. This flight from the Western Australian system is a vote of confidence in the federal system. The Gallop government set these contracts up to fail, and fail they have. While the Gallop government's policies are failing, Western Australian workers and managers are embracing the freedom and fairness of the federal system in ever increasing numbers.