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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 697

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations to the reports of last week regarding a breakdown in negotiations between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Australian Industry over the application of the recent decision of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission on job protection in the key metal industry award. Is the Minister able to advise us on the current position on this matter. Are reports of a threatened national metal industry stoppage correct? Is the Government contemplating any action in view of the bitter disagreement between the parties in this significant first case? In general, is the Minister able to advise us of any developments that have taken place since those reports of last week?

Senator BUTTON —All I am able to advise about this matter is that the CAI and others sought a reopening of the case before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The Commission declined to do that. However, in respect of a number of details emanating from the decision, the Commission said that it would be happy to hear the views of the parties in relation to the drafting of detailed implementation of the decision. As I understand it, a conference was called before Mr Justice Maddern to discuss those drafting questions. Not a great deal of agreement was reached at that conference between the parties-that is, the CAI , the ACTU and others. It was decided that each party should prepare its own draft version of how the decision should be implemented and that they should come back at a later stage with their draft versions for a further go at it, as it were. As I understand it, that is the position at present. I have heard nothing about a national metal trades stoppage on the issue. When looking at the decision regarding retirement benefits or retrenchment pay it is important to consider that a number of principles are involved which adversely affect industry in some ways but which also, I would think, provide benefit to industry in other ways. That is true on both sides. But I take it that Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle's question was directed to the mechanics of what is happening now rather than the principles involved. If Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle wishes to have further information, I will seek it from the Minister.