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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2147

Senator BELL (9.42 p.m.) —This amendment seeks to transfer the onus of proof in an unfair dismissal case to the employee. The government's formulation of proposed section 170EDA(1) requires an employer to prove that he or she has a valid reason for dismissing an employee. If a valid reason is proven then the onus is on the employee to show that the dismissal was nevertheless harsh, unjust or unreasonable. The opposition's formulation simply requires the employee to show that the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable. It removes the employer's responsibility and thereby changes the balance. It removes the employers responsibility to demonstrate a valid reason for dismissal, even though in the act existing section 170DE(1) requires that there be a valid reason.

  In the view of the Australian Democrats, this amendment effectively would relieve managers of the responsibility for properly considering whether dismissal is appropriate. The Democrats are strongly of the view that the legislation should encourage good management, which is a critical requirement of the economic success for which the coalition professes to yearn, and, in the interests of better management, we will be opposing the amendment.