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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1105

Senator CHAPMAN (5.18 p.m.) —The Minister for Defence (Senator Ray) has said that the government does not envisage any return to pooling or any new levies; indeed, that is what Mr Brereton said in the other place when dealing with this legislation. But neither Mr Brereton nor Senator Ray has given us an absolute guarantee that these things will not take place—that at some stage there will be new levies and pooling. The only reason for having levies is the existence of a pool. The purpose of levies is to provide the funds to pay those stevedoring employees who are part of a pool during their idle time and not actually working on the waterfront to earn an income.

  What we want in this legislation is an absolute guarantee that there will not be a return to those bad old days of employment pooling, and that there will not be additional levies put on the stevedoring industry which, in turn, are passed on to our exporters. If the government is confident that we are not going to have a return to pooling and we will not need additional levies, why does it not make that commitment clear now by supporting this amendment—because this amendment will ensure that the committee no longer has the capacity to raise additional levies; and has the capacity to recommend the cessation of levies? That is what we want.

  If this reform process is genuine and will reach the conclusion which the government claimed at the outset was envisaged for it, the abolition of levies will be the final stage of that reform process. Until levies are abolished we will not have completed the reform process, so let us use this legislation to complete the process, as it has been achieved thus far, although as I said earlier we need to hasten the pace of achieving enterprise agreements and get rid of the jobs for life concept.

  In terms of the administrative structure let us say once and for all that at least at that level this reform process is complete by supporting these amendments. I welcome the support of the Democrats. Obviously the amendment will pass. I urge again, before this matter is put to the vote, that the government also come on board and support this worthwhile amendment.

  Amendment agreed to.