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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1103


Senator ROBERT RAY (Minister for Defence) (5.01 p.m.) —The government does not accept the proposed amendment. We take the view that the minister of the day should have reasonable discretion in making appointments, especially to a committee, which, after all, is more administrative than policy making. What the opposition's proposal effectively does, which would not surprise anyone, is reinforce what has always occurred in the past.

  The Industrial Relations Amendment Bill achieves a situation where the government will be able to appoint, as other senators have said, a chairman, a departmental representative and a representative of the employers and a representative of the employees. Senator Chapman has introduced the fact that the government may be motivated to appoint a particular stevedoring group that has connections with the union movement. Mr Brereton has assured people in the House of Representatives that he has no intention of doing that. Fundamentally, it would not make much sense. It would be a very silly act. I dare say that if we wanted to stack the committee we would appoint a chairman, have the other two elect whoever they like, put the departmental representative on and have it three to one. That is not the intention here. It is not a major policy-making area.

  The intention is to have good administrators on the committee who can understand the issues. They are not always necessarily thrown up in an elected process by either the employer or the employee bodies. The government believes it has given sufficient assurances that it is not going to stack the committee with pro-union or pro-employer representatives, and that is where the matter rests.