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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1100

Senator CRANE (4.50 p.m.) —I move:

1.Clause 9, page 3, lines 3 to 8, omit paragraph (a), substitute the following paragraph:

  "(a)by omitting subsection (1) and substituting the following subsection:

    `(1)The Committee consists of:

    (a)a Chairperson; and

    (b)an officer of the Department; and

    (c)a person appointed on the nomination of the Maritime Union of Australia; and

      (d)a person appointed on the nomination of stevedoring employers.';".

There is a very important distinction between this amendment and what is contained in the bill. As far as forming a committee under statute is concerned, we say that organisations—whether they be union or employer organisations, or the group of stevedoring employers in this particular case who are represented by an organisation—have the simple right to nominate the individuals who will serve on this committee.

  I want to spend a little time on this point. While we have committees that are appointed wholly and solely by a minister, the end result is cosy committees with ministerial mates appointed to them. We can look back through the records of many years and see many situations where this has happened. When an organisation—whether it be a union, an employer or some other body—is required by the government to serve in such a capacity, at the very least it should have the right to nominate who it sees as the best person for the job. That is crucial to the success of advisory committees to governments. In this particular case we find that that is not the government's position.

  The minister will be selecting not only the chairperson and the officer of the department, but also the person representing the employers and the person representing the stevedoring employees. In the past, that has not led to having the best people for the job on statutory committees. I put it to Senator Bell—and although we do not have Senator Harradine here or Senator Chamarette who spoke on the bill for some time earlier, I put it to them as well—that it is a very important fundamental principle to get the best people to produce the best results in their advisory functions.

  While we are on this point, I refer to the point made by Senator Margetts earlier. She criticised the coalition and the government, and probably Senator Bell, for not giving enough consideration to the point of view of maritime unions or the people who work on the waterfront. This is her opportunity to allow democracy to work by voting for our amendment and allowing the maritime unions to select the person that they want to serve on the committee. I say to the minister at the table, Senator Robert Ray—who often in this place and quite correctly defends democracy and its importance—and to the government and to Senator Bell, that this is not democracy at work; it is the selection of a mate to do the job.

  One can almost guarantee that if the organisations involved were given the opportunity to nominate people they would not be the same nominations as those of the minister. I cannot emphasise strongly enough in establishing the fundamental principle not only for this legislation but also for future legislation that organisations—whether they be employer organisations, unions, the ACTU, voluntary organisations or service industries—should have the right, when serving in this capacity under statute, to nominate who they believe is the best person for the job.