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Wednesday, 25 September 2002
Page: 4826

Senator SHERRY (12:05 PM) —Firstly, with respect to typographical errors, surprisingly, Senator Murray, I have just noticed that we had two paragraphs marked `(f)' in our previously defeated amendment. I have only just picked it up; I do not know what the impact would have been if the amendment had been passed in that form. It does happen; it is understood. When our staff and Senate staff are drafting amendments which can be extraordinarily complex, the odd number may be incorrectly inserted. Those sorts of mistakes are understandable given the pressure and the often difficult time frames under which we all work in this place.

As you said, Senator Murray, your amendment (4) does not exactly reflect but it certainly substantially draws on the types of good faith practice that we outlined earlier in the amendments that were defeated. Without sounding grudging, we will support your amendment because it certainly represents an improvement on existing provisions in the bill.

Before we go to a vote, I indicate that we still believe that it would have been preferable to have it very clear from the start of negotiations as to what the parameters should be in respect of good faith bargaining, rather than the parameters being laid down at a later time. There could be some game playing—if I could use that expression— before we get to the point where the commission will consider whether bargaining is in good faith. To minimise game playing by either party, we thought it should be necessary to lay down what are reasonable practices, commonsense practices, commonly understood decent behaviour and good faith behaviour by the broader community at the commencement of the negotiations rather than partway through. However, your approach, Senator Murray, is an improvement on what is proposed by the government and, as I said, the Labor Party will support it.