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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 30

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (2:25 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister, and it follows on from my previous question to him and that from the member for Banks. Prime Minister, isn’t it the case that the government pulped nearly half a million copies of the booklet to insert the word ‘fairer’ into the title at the suggestion of the government’s taxpayer funded market research spin doctors? Prime Minister, doesn’t page 29 of the government’s industrial relations legislation expressly remove the requirement that the minimum wage be fair from the criteria for setting the minimum wage? Prime Minister, instead of pulping the booklet because the word ‘fair’ was not on the cover, why don’t you just kill the bill?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —The question of whether these changes are fair will be determined by an objective analysis of the aggregate provisions of the legislation. If you look at the aggregate provisions of the legislation, you find—for example, in relation to the minimum wage—for the first time a specific injunction that the interests of the unemployed be looked at. As I said last week—

Mr Crean —But why take ‘fair’ out?

Mr HOWARD —They interject in the name of fairness. I will again remind those who sit opposite of the famous words of a successful Labour leader, Tony Blair, when he addressed the Trade Union Congress in 1997 in Great Britain. He said, ‘Fairness in the workplace starts with the chance of a job.’ An integral part of the injunctions given to the Fair Pay Commission is to take into account the interests of the unemployed, as well as the requirement for proper minimum wage considerations, the strength of the Australian economy and the other things that are listed in the conditions that are attached to the fair pay condition. When you look at all of those, you see that fairness to the unemployed is integral to the proceedings of the Fair Pay Commission. I think that demonstrates that this legislation, so far from needing to be put aside, properly meets the Australian fair go tradition.