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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 1069

Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (19:39): Minister, doesn’t this just show the absolute stupidity of elements of the code? This is not about improving productivity. It is not about making sure the industry has skills. I do not know what this is about. I do not know any other country in the world where unions cannot bargain to lift the skill base of an individual company or the skill base of the industry.

If the employer is prepared to sit down with the unions and negotiate an agreement that lifts the skill base, it is in the interests of the company to have those young workers trained. It is in the interests of the community and, importantly, it is in the interests of the individual apprentice—and their families, who would be glad to get their children into an apprenticeship. Why is this not code compliant? Why has this decision been made? Why has the government determined that increasing the number of apprentices in the industry and at individual enterprises is not code compliant? Forget the industry; why would Probuild not be allowed to compete if this clause is in their agreement? Why is competition diminished because a company is going to employ apprentices? What is the logic to this?

You have gone through the terms of the code but you have not come to actually advising the public, who are listening in now, nor to the satisfaction of the opposition, what logic there is to this prohibition on bargaining, and this prohibition on a company agreeing with its employees and a union about the ratio of apprentices to tradespersons. Can you explain the logic of this?