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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4827


Senator SHERRY (12:13 PM) —The Labor Party supports this amendment moved by the Australian Democrats. Senator Murray makes a very well-balanced point on this issue. In this particular section of the act, it is important, whether it is a minister of this government or a future Labor government—whichever political party—that they should not be given the power to interfere in this area. I cannot recall any time when the current minister, Minister Abbott—where he has had the power or authority to interfere in an industrial relations case—has come in on the side of workers or unions; it has always been to support the employer. I think that is a good example of the lack of a balanced approach by both this government and the current minister, and, I am also sure, by a future minister in this government.

I recall Minister Abbott interfering and intervening in the excessive hours working case before the commission and arguing that Australian workers were not working excessive hours. There has subsequently been a raft of evidence publicly available that, for many Australian workers, that is simply not the case. The minister is out of touch. We want an impartial, balanced, independent Industrial Relations Commission. We do not want ministers of any political description— but particularly this one, and his predecessor and his successor, if there is one—to be interfering in this area in an independent Industrial Relations Commission. It is inappropriate. Senator Murray is quite correct and balanced in his approach, and the Labor Party will be supporting the amendment.