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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1849

Senator SIBRAA —I refer the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Resources and Energy to the recommendation arising from the June meeting of the Australian Coal Consultative Council that a labour adjustment package should be developed as a matter of priority, as one important means of assisting to meet the current problems of the coal industry. I ask the Minister: What stage has been reached in the development of such a package?

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I happen to have a brief on that subject, which I am sure is a great surprise to everybody. I hope I can read it to Senator Sibraa's satisfaction. The proposal for a labour adjustment package for the New South Wales coal industry was first formally considered in the June 1984 meeting of the Australian Coal Consultative Council as a possible response to two structural changes occurring in the industry. Since then a package has been developed between the New South Wales Coal Association and the unions to introduce voluntary retirement at age 55, a redeployment relocation scheme, and retraining under the Commonwealth's labour adjustment training arrangements. This scheme was endorsed by the ACCC at its meeting on 14 September when imminent retrenchments on the South Coast were averted, at least for the time being. My colleague Senator Walsh issued a Press statement on 15 October drawing attention to the good relations that have arisen as a result of implementation of the scheme, particularly with arrangements to assist redeployment of miners from the southern districts. It offers hope, we believe, for cushioning the effects of structural change in the industry and providing some form of safety net should further retrenchments occur in New South Wales. If that does not sufficiently cover the matters raised by Senator Sibraa I will get further information, but I believe that answers the gist of the question.