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Wednesday, 13 August 2003
Page: 18434

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) (5:20 PM) —I move:

That the amendments be disagreed to.

I do not propose to detain the House for long on this matter. The Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Termination) Bill 2002 was introduced into the parliament in the wake of the Hamzy case. In the Hamzy case the Federal Court determined that the previous arrangements, which were put in place by regulation, were invalid. All the government sought to do with this bill was ensure that the status quo would be preserved. We tried to ensure that the status quo would be preserved by doing in legislation what had previously been done by regulation.

The unfair dismissal provisions did not apply to short-term casual employees from 1996 until late 2001—that is, casual employees were excluded from accessing unfair dismissal remedies unless they had been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months and had a reasonable expectation of continuing employment with the same employer. That was the situation pre Hamzy. All the government is seeking to do with this bill is ensure that the pre-Hamzy situation continues—that the status quo that was good enough for the parliament from 1996 to 2001 continues. For that reason, I believe the amendments moved in the Senate are unnecessary, and I would urge the House to disagree to them.