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Tuesday, 24 June 2003
Page: 17278


Mr McCLELLAND (2:09 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister on another issue of fair and reasonable access to, and care of, children. Is the Prime Minister aware that today the ACTU launched a work and family test case in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to allow Australian mothers and fathers to spend more quality time with their children by establishing things such as a right to part-time work for Australians returning to work after parental leave, a right for Australian employees to request changed hours so that they can meet their family responsibilities and a right for Australians to take unpaid leave to care for family members? I ask the Prime Minister: will the government get behind the ACTU's case and do something positive to allow working mums and dads to spend more time caring for and nurturing their children?


Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I thank the member for Barton for his question. It is almost, I might say, a fraternal question, because we do not need to get behind the ACTU on this issue; we are ahead of the ACTU on this issue. We are ahead of the ACTU on this issue because Australian workplace agreements are the epitome of flexibility. The whole essence of the government's policy is to encourage agreements at the individual workplace between the employer and the employee. You do not need the cumbersome one-size-fits-all approach of the ACTU; you need the flexibility of individual Australian workplace agreements.



The SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bass!


Mr HOWARD —Let me say that I have no argument at all with the philosophy of what the ACTU is proposing; I simply say that you will get better results going down the government's path.