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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2656

Senator GILES —Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations been drawn to the November edition of Industrial Review, the journal of the Confederation of Australian Industry? Is the paper critical of the New or extreme Right's approach to reform of the industrial relations system? Does the CAI's attitude, as expressed in the review, indicate a level of support within the mainstream of the industrial relations community for the Government's industrial relations policies?

Senator WALSH —The answer to the last part of the question is, of course, yes. The article in question does in the broad support the Government's industrial relations policy although I would be very surprised if the CAI, when it argues any particular case before the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, would be completely in accord with the specific policies that the Government might be advocating. I do not think many people would expect that to happen. The Review provides a clear indication that the CAI is opposed to the belligerent policies of confrontation that are being proposed by some members of the H. R. Nicholls Society. I am not sure that all members of the H. R. Nicholls Society advocate that.

Last Friday's Australian Financial Review contains a report of comments by Mr David Nolan, who is the CAI's industrial council director, and I think a couple of those quotations focus on the degree to which the CAI is in broad agreement with the Government and, of course, diametrically opposed to the views that have been put forward by various members of the H. R. Nicholls Society which are being repeated by the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy. Mr Nolan said:

These critics of our centralised industrial system, virtually none of whom have been involved in industrial relations, threaten employers with changes which would create conditions far worse than those that already exist.

These critics of the industrial system seem to believe that the mere existence of industrial tribunals makes things worse rather than improves them. Their arguments, however, have nothing to support them but their own personal opinions and in fact represent a grave danger to employers.

Mr David Nolan of the CAI said that the policies being advocated by members of the H. R. Nicholls Society and loyally repeated by the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy, no doubt at the direction and instigation of Andrew Hay, `represent a grave danger to employers'. I understand that Mr Andrew Hay put on a spectacular performance on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Four Corners program last night. Finally, I quote from the CAI's paper to which Senator Giles's question referred. In respect of industrial relations in the United Kingdom, the CAI paper stated:

What in actual fact represents the best example of an Australian industrial environment without tribunals is the United Kingdom. It is a landscape so bleak that it is impossible to imagine anyone wanting to go down that road. And yet that is the most likely outcome here should we move to a system of decentralised collective bargaining.

I can only endorse that statement and say that it is remarkable that anybody, particularly given the experience in Australia in the early 1980s and in the United Kingdom throughout the 1980s, should want to go down that road. However, some of the fanatics of the far Right, some of whom are members of the H. R. Nicholls Society, and its toadies outside, want to do precisely that.