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Thursday, 18 August 2005
Page: 277

Mr Brendan O’Connor asked the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, in writing, on 1 June 2005:

(1)   How many Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) have been filed with the Employment Advocate.

(2)   What proportion of federal agreements are AWAs.

(3)   What is the average number of (a) clauses and (b) pages in AWAs.

(4)   What proportion of AWAs are rejected by the Employment Advocate on the grounds that they breach the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

(5)   How many people are employed by the Employment Advocate.

(6)   What increases in staffing levels of the Employment Advocate will be required as a result of the recently announced changes to Australia’s industrial relations system.

Mr Andrews (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   Between the inception of the Office of the Employment Advocate in 1997 and 31 May 2005, a total of 739,437 Australian workplace agreements (AWAs) have been filed.

(2)   An estimated 447,300 AWAs and 15,800 certified agreements are currently in operation (as at 31 May 2005). As each AWA is an individual agreement, it is counted as one federal agreement in its own right. Similarly, each collective agreement is counted as one federal agreement, regardless of the number of employees covered. Therefore, on this basis, 97 per cent of federal agreements are AWAs. However, in terms of employees covered by AWAs, the proportion is considerably lower because only one employee is covered by each AWA. In the case of CAs, each agreement may cover hundreds or even thousands of employees. Therefore, it is estimated that 22 per cent of employees on federal agreements are covered by an AWA.

(3)   The OEA does not record the number of clauses contained in AWAs, nor does it record the page length of AWAs.

(4)   In the current financial year to date (as at 31 May 2005), 0.5 per cent of AWAs finalised have been refused for not meeting the requirements of s170VPA(1) of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, and an additional 0.7 per cent have been referred to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission under s170VPB(3) of the Act.

(5)   As at 31 May 2005, a total of 188 people were employed in the Office of the Employment Advocate.

(6)   The Department of Employment and Workplace Relations is not now in a position to estimate the impact on OEA staffing levels of the Government’s proposed workplace relations reforms.