Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 14915

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (9:42 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

The Workplace Relations Act 1996 provides certain immunities for employees and their organisations, and for employers undertaking protected industrial action during the bargaining process.

Strikes cost jobs. Protected industrial action is a privilege, statutorily conferred once certain requirements have been fulfilled. When an industrial organisation refuses or fails to comply with those requirements, and unprotected industrial action results, then that organisation must quickly be called to account. Industrial parties are not exempt from acceptable standards of behaviour and should not be able to avoid the rule of law.

This bill will ensure that applications for orders to prevent unprotected industrial action are dealt with quickly and that, in dealing with applications, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission takes into account the undesirability of unprotected action.

Section 127 of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 was intended to provide a timely remedy for parties affected by unprotected industrial action. It empowers the Commission to make orders to stop or prevent industrial action. Whilst section 127 has generally proved to be an effective mechanism, delays in making or enforcing section 127 orders have sometimes extended the period during which enterprises and their workers are exposed to unprotected industrial action.

The proposed amendments will require the Commission to deal with section 127 applications within 48 hours of their lodgement, if at all practicable. If an application for an order cannot be determined within 48 hours, the Commission will have the discretion to issue an interim order to stop or prevent industrial action. The Commission, in exercising its discretion, will have to consider factors such as the damage that would be caused to the industry and whether the industrial action forms part of a sequence of related industrial action.

The Commission will also be required to take into account whether a person or organisation engaging in industrial action is bound by a certified agreement that has not yet reached its nominal expiry date, as well as the undesirability of unprotected industrial action.

Debate (on motion by Senator Mackay) adjourned.