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Wednesday, 16 August 2017
Page: 5886


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (18:30): I really don't know where that took us. That was just a regurgitation of the issues that I think most of us agree on, except that this is what the Fair Work Ombudsman put to us for dealing with the most complex cases. We are not limiting the powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Act is unchanged in relation to the general powers. This is about the most complex cases, and it is about ensuring that the bill deals with what the minister has publicly said it is about—that is, protecting vulnerable workers. But in the last minute, we've got the minister throwing in this argument that it's about industrial action. I will just repeat it quickly. We have the ABCC, the Fair Work Ombudsman, the Fair Work Commission and the registered organisations, and we have limitations on bargaining and industrial action that no other advanced country in the world has. We are determined that it should not be harder for ordinary Australians out there to have their union represent them effectively.

So, Senator Xenophon, I will indicate to you that—we had that quick chat between times—we would be prepared to move to another of our amendments now so that we can commence discussions with the crossbench, because we won't get agreement from the minister. The minister has given the game away. She wants to use this to attack union rights further and to limit industrial action even more. We want to work with you and the crossbench to deal with the issues that you have raised, and, on that basis, I would seek advice from the chair as to whether we can move to another aspect of this. I would be prepared, if I need to, to move on to another aspect and allow some discussions to take place on this as soon as practicable.

The TEMPORARY CHAIR: Senator Cameron, you can request to postpone the debate on this particular amendment and, if it is the wish of the committee and they agree, then we can move on to another amendment.

Senator CAMERON: I move:

That further consideration of the amendments be postponed.

Question agreed to.