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Wednesday, 25 June 2003
Page: 17604


Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (12:40 PM) —in reply—In summing up the Workplace Relations Amendment (Protection for Emergency Management Volunteers) Bill 2003, I thank members on both sides of the House who have spoken and who have taken an interest in this topic and urged upon me and the government the necessity for a bill along these lines. As usual, I particularly thank the shadow minister for workplace relations, the member for Barton, for his very thorough and carefully considered contribution.

Some members in the course of this debate have raised questions about possible discrimination and possible victimisation of emergency services volunteers. I believe that, in all reasonably conceivable circumstances, those matters are already adequately dealt with in other legislation. But this is an important bill, because it is important for us as a society to indicate to emergency service volunteers that we take them seriously, that we encourage what they do and that we do not want to see them in any way damaged or hurt because of their participation in protecting our community. It is very encouraging that the shadow minister has indicated Labor's support for the bill notwithstanding the fate of any amendments in the Senate. I think it would be most desirable to have this bill through the parliament well before the coming bushfire season, because we do not want any emergency service volunteers to feel under any unnecessary pressure or to have any unnecessary anxiety as we go into the next summer.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the bill be reported to the House without amendment.

Main Committee adjourned at 12.44 p.m.