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Thursday, 25 October 1973

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not quite sure whether the Opposition quite understands the import of its proposed amendment. Senator Greenwood has adopted a curious attitude towards certified agreements. In debates on earlier sections of the Act in which we discussed amendments proposed by the Government Senator Greenwood sought to place barriers in the way of the making of agreements and the certification of agreements. It will be recalled that in an earlier debate he objected to the Government's general proposition that these agreements should be made and certified provided that they did not create any major detriment to the public interest. That, to the Opposition and especially to Senator Greenwood, seemed to be altogether too permissive an attitude towards certified agreements and he insisted that they had to meet the test of being in the public interest before they could qualify for certification. But now he takes the attitude in regard to their duration that whilst admitting that there should be a different period they should be more or less on an equal footing to awards, that is, that they should continue in operation after they have expired. We believe that this would have the purpose of providing a disincentive to the renegotiation of agreements and would leave out-of-date agreements in force, which would be a potential source of industrial trouble.

The purpose of our amendment in paragraph (b) is to encourage the parties to renegotiate certified agreements before their period of operation expires. We believe that the effect of the Opposition's amendment will be to nullify this purpose. This is the reason why paragraph (b) is in our amendment. I do not know whether that is fully understood by the Opposition. But we believe that it should stand for that purpose. Under our amendment the parties to the certified agreement will advert to the fact that the certified agreement is to expire and they will, we believe, take pains to renegotiate the agreement. For that reason we believe that the provision in the Bill should stand as it is.

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