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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17558

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (7:26 PM) —As always, I respect what is said by the member for Barton, the shadow minister. I know that he is coming at this from a position of complete good faith, great knowledge and insight into the area. However, I simply say again what I tried to say in my closing remarks: that the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transmission of Business) Bill 2002 is designed to give additional power to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. This bill is based on the government's faith in the commission and confidence that the commission is able to make these decisions, should it need to. I believe that the amendments proposed by the member for Barton unnecessarily restrict the discretion of the commission, unnecessarily fetter the commission and unnecessarily guide the commission—which in this case is more than capable of making its own mind up.

I also add that, in the end, the best way to ensure that workers are not disadvantaged is to ensure that they have their jobs. The best way to ensure that workers are not disadvantaged is to ensure that they keep their jobs. That is the point. The trouble with the way the transmission of business rules have evolved is that they are more about protecting job-destroying rights than enhancing job-creating rights. That is the problem.

The SPEAKER —The member for Bass.

Mr ABBOTT —Mr Speaker, would you please restrain this person.

The SPEAKER —The member for Bass is a persistent interjector.

Mr ABBOTT —Thank you, Mr Speaker. Members on this side were good enough to listen respectfully to members opposite.

The SPEAKER —I will manage the House.

Mr ABBOTT —I think members opposite should extend a similar courtesy. I do not want to say any more, except to say again something which is obviously not fully appreciated by all members opposite: the best protection you can give to a worker is to enable that worker to keep his or her job, because the greatest benefit that you can give to any worker is the job itself. Under this government there are one million more jobs and there is also, as we know, higher pay for people in jobs. So I oppose the amendments.

The SPEAKER —The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

Question negatived.

Bill agreed to.