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Tuesday, 22 October 2002
Page: 5600


Senator TROETH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (3:37 PM) — I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That the provisions of paragraphs (5) to (7) of standing order 111 not apply to the Workplace Relations Amendment (Fair Dismissal) Bill 2002 [No. 2], allowing it to be considered during this period of sittings.

I also table a statement of reasons justifying the need for this bill to be considered during these sittings and seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows

WORKPLACE RELATIONS AMENDMENT (FAIR DISMISSAL) BILL 2002 [No. 2]

Purpose of the Bill

The Bill will amend the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the WR Act) to exclude employees of small business from unfair dismissal provisions in the WR Act relating to termination of employment.

Reasons for Urgency

The Bill was first introduced in the House of Representatives on 13 February 2002 and subsequently passed by the Senate but with amendments that were unacceptable to the House. The House of Representatives laid the amended Bill aside on 28 June 2002.

A vibrant and innovative small business sector is crucial to Australia's economic growth and social welfare. Inappropriate regulation and inflexibilities in workplace relations arrangements are key issues for small business. Small business wants and needs an exemption from the federal unfair dismissal laws, not so they can dismiss unfairly, but to relieve them from the threat of unfair dismissal proceedings.

The defence of an unfair dismissal claim, however groundless, is especially burdensome for small businesses. The possibility of an unfair dismissal claim discourages small business from taking on new employees. An exemption is necessary, to ensure continuing employment growth in small business.

The Government is committed to pursuing the proposed small business exemption and is determined to maintain pressure on those opposing the Bill to allow its passage through the Senate unamended.

(Circulated by authority of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations)

Senator Crossin to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes the signing of the 1997 National Communiqué to progress Indigenous Justice issues by the Northern Territory Government confirming its commitment to reducing the over-representation of Indigenous people in all stages of the criminal justice system;

(b) recognises that the 1997 communiqué commits all signatories to addressing customary law and its relationship with the criminal justice system;

(c) notes that, in accordance with Australian and international law, Aboriginal customary law should be recognised consistently with universally-recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms; and

(d) acknowledges that the Northern Territory Government is working in partnership with Indigenous people in moving to conduct an inquiry into Aboriginal customary law and its relationship with the criminal justice system.

Senator Nettle to move on the next day of sitting:

That the Senate—

(a) notes the rally in Sydney on 22 October 2002 of the Korean Solidarity for Human Rights Group, which is demanding an apology for the imprisonment in high security jails of two Korean asylum seekers who were neither convicted nor charged with any offence;

(b) condemns the transfer of asylum seekers into the regular prison system as contrary to the strong tradition in Australia of, and legal commitment to, civil and human rights that protect individuals from imprisonment without conviction or charge; and

(c) calls on the Government to end this practice immediately, bringing Australia back in line with commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Senator GREIG (Western Australia) (3.39 p.m.)—Pursuant to standing order 78(1), I give notice of my intention, at the giving of notices on the next day of sitting, to withdraw business of the Senate notice of motion No. 1 relating to the disallowance of Therapeutic (Goods) Charges Amendment Regulations 2002 (No. 1) standing in my name for Thursday, 24 October 2002.