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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3090

Mr NEVILLE (HinklerThe Nationals Deputy Whip) (13:14): I too would like to deal with proposed clause 33(3), which states:

The regulations may prescribe a code of conduct in relation to collective bargaining for road transport collective agreements.

Under the road transport collective agreement, the tribunal must be satisfied that, under proposed paragraph 34(ca):

the participating hirer and the participating drivers have conducted themselves in accordance with any code of conduct prescribed under subsection 33(3)—

which I just read. I find it highly unusual that the minister would be issuing guidelines to the tribunal that it had specifically set up to regulate the bargaining that goes on in the industry between the hirers and the drivers. The minister is now going to intervene and set up regulations—I suppose ministers can always do that—but then there is a code of conduct. Proposed clause 33(5) states:

A code of conduct prescribed under subsection (3) must have as its object the facilitation of effective and efficient collective bargaining for road transport collective agreements.

That is why the tribunal itself was set up. So what have we got? We have got the Fair Work organisation, then we have this new tribunal and then we have a minister intervening with regulations and, presumably, laying down a code of conduct. I ask the minister at the table: is that not the very criticism you levelled at Work Choices?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. DGH Adams ): Order!

Mr NEVILLE: Well, it is a fair comparison, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! That is not what the amendments address. I ask the honourable member to come back to the amendments before us.

Mr NEVILLE: Mr Deputy Speaker, I am just saying what that sequence of amendments will lead to. I make the point that it is very interesting indeed that we have a Fair Work organisation that is supposed to be regulating payments, then a tribunal that will double guess them, then a set of regulations on top of that, presumably where the minister will regulate it further, and then within that again a code of conduct which will give the government overbearing control. I would say that it is very similar to Work Choices and leave it at that.