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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 8038

Senator MURRAY (11:58 PM) —by leave—I move together Democrat amendments (R1A ), (1) and (2) on 2793 revised:

(R1A) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 9), omit “Subdivisions B, C, D, E and F”, substitute “Subdivisions B, D, E and F and sections 170CL and 170CM”.

(1) Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (line 11), omit “Subdivisions B, C, D, E and F”, substitute “Subdivisions B, D, E and F and sections 170CL and 170CM”.

(2) Schedule 1, item 1, page 4 (lines 21 and 22), omit “Subdivision B, C, D or E”, substitute “Subdivision B, D or E or section 170CL or 170CM”.

I am indebted to Bills Digest No. 95 2001-02 for expressing the situation well. At page 7, it says:

More generally, and this is a criticism that might be made of both the present proposal and the Keating Government's approach, it is inappropriate to exclude any casual workers from the unlawful dismissal component of federal unfair termination laws. The latter refer to those grounds of termination specifically enumerated at section 170CK(2) of the Principal Act. Excluding employees from the protection against unlawful dismissal denies, for example, a casual employee who is dismissed because their employer discovers they are/are not a member of a union, or a homosexual or a member of a particular racial group, relief available to other workers under the Principal Act. In short, even if there is an argument for denying casual workers access to federal unfair dismissal laws, the basic standards of fairness and decency established by the unlawful dismissal requirements in section 170CK of the Principal Act ought to apply to all employment relations.

My memory of all my discussions with ministers and shadow ministers is that none of them have ever envisaged a situation where the unlawful dismissal provisions in the act should not apply to all workers. I cannot conceive of that. It is a basic standard throughout our legislative regime for employees that you simply cannot be dismissed on grounds of race, gender, sexual preference or anything of that sort. These amendments are designed to rectify an oversight: that is why I have moved them and expect unanimous support for them.

Friday, 13 December 2002