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Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3585


Senator PARER —My question is directed to the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce. In view of the Minister's stated efforts to restore competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, does he support the Metal Trades Industry Association proposal for a 40-hour week in return for a wage increase limited to 3 per cent over the next 12 months?


Senator BUTTON —The MTIA saw me about that proposal and I said at the time-and I repeat-that it was a matter for discussion between the parties. That was the way it was presented by the MTIA. It was not a matter about which I was asked to give any particular opinion. Indeed, if industry by industry discussions take place on wages and productivity matters, I do not think Ministers in a government can appropriately intervene in those discussions, particularly at such an early stage as this. I think the MTIA initiative is to be welcomed as providing a forum or a basis for discussion. Whether the productivity results can be produced by that proposed result, whether the right wage outcomes in that industry can be produced by that result, are matters which I think remain to be seen. It is essentially, as I said, a matter for discussion between the parties. I have no doubt that that is a view which Senator Parer would share because his industrial relations policy, as I understand it, is very much based on the notion that there should be discussion between parties at an enterprise level. I hope that is his industrial relations policy-it is never quite clear. If it is, I am sure he would welcome that sort of discussion.