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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5839

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) (9:08 PM) —I would like to make two short points. Firstly, the NWRCC is the consultative group, which includes employee representatives, which Safe Work Australia went through. It was discussed there—which is the consultative process. I reject the argument that it was just the state government officials who were spoken to; it was significantly broader than that. My second point is in relation to the substantive amendment that has been put forward. In respect of the three-year strategic plan, we do not have a crystal ball to tell us what might happen in 18 months time. Therefore, what we have proposed, which was agreed to through the IGA, was that, if there were circumstances which warranted an amendment to that, a change to that, a modification to that, then this was the best way forward to do that—if there was a significant change in circumstances which required an amendment to the strategic plan. The IGA put forward this position as being the most sensible way of ensuring that it continues to be relevant—a strategic plan that can be used by Safe Work Australia.

I do not know the circumstances in which it would be invoked. It was a position that was agreed to so that we could have flexibility to ensure that the strategic plan would remain relevant and continue forward. Be that as it may, I am asking the chamber to agree to the position that I have put forward. I think it is a sensible position. It does take into account the state and Commonwealth position of getting to the outcome—and the outcome is model OH&S laws. It is not going to be an easy process. The Rudd government does not want to see it stalled at this early point in the process. It is not about putting a fait accompli to the Senate in committee. It is about asking the Senate in committee to see the merit in the IGA, approve the framework and move forward to get the outcome.