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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 21918

Mr BILLSON (2:42 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. Can the minister advise the House of the government's response to plans by the Victorian government to reintroduce a separate workplace relations system? What is the progress of negotiations with the Victorian government to prevent the burden of unnecessary cost and complexity being placed on Victorian workers and small businesses?

Mr ANDREWS (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the honourable member for Dunkley for his question. I indicate to him that a consequence of what the Victorian government and, in particular, Minister Hulls in that state are threatening is the re-establishment of a separate workplace relations system—indeed, a dual system in the state of Victoria. A consequence of this would be that it would add unnecessary cost and complexity for employers in Victoria and would cost jobs for Victorian workers. As I said in answer to a previous question from the member for Hume, this government is all about jobs and reducing unemployment in this country. The Victorian government would be much better off directing the money that it would cost to establish a separate dual workplace relations system into essential services in the state of Victoria, like hospitals and schools. I have told Mr Hulls, the minister in Victoria, that I intend to introduce legislation into this parliament that would avoid complexity and cost and preserve jobs in Victoria. I urge him and the Labor Party in this place to get behind and support this legislation.