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Wednesday, 30 October 1974
Page: 2113


Senator GREENWOOD -In directing a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate I refer to the eulogy given by him yesterday on the merits of our arbitration system. I ask: Is the Government proposing that wage indexation provide a measure of regulation of future wage increases? Is not the acceptance of wage indexation a matter for the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Is it not also a fact that 4 States and the national employers body propose to oppose wage indexation as merely a restoration of the cost of living adjustments which, 20 years ago, were rejected by the Commission as highly inflationary? I therefore ask: What reason has the Government for supposing that the Commission will accept the Government's wage indexation proposals?


Senator MURPHY - I suppose the answer to that question is that mostly it is a matter for the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of the Commonwealth. In some respects, whether it be indexation or cost of living adjustments, it might also be a matter for a State body, such as the Industrial Commission of New South Wales or the State parliaments. Senator Greenwood would recall that the cost of living adjustments were introduced, I think, in New South Wales by legislation. They were fairly successful as I recall the relevant figures. But it is not fitting that I should be suggesting what kind of arguments might commend themselves to the Commission on such a subject. If the Minister for Labor and Immigration would want to add anything further on this, I am sure that he will. It is an area primarily for the arbitral authorities of Australia, whether Federal or State. We all recognise that it is possible for the Government to introduce legislation which, if accepted by this Parliament, would apply to the Public Service and certain other areas within Federal responsibilities. In doing this the Government would be acting in the same way as the States acted earlier. I shall leave the matter for the Minister to see if he wishes to add anything to my answer.







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