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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2830

Senator COOK(5.10) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

In view of your statement, Mr President, I shall shortly be asking for leave to continue my remarks.

The most significant thing that can be said about the sixth annual report of the Industrial Relations Bureau is that it is the last report of the IRB. The IRB was, mercifully, put out of operation last year by one of the first industrial relations Acts of this Government-legislation to transfer the functions of the IRB, not wholly but in part, in terms of the inspectorate, to a newly reconstituted arbitration inspectorate within the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations. Thus the end of the IRB was sounded.

The IRB was established under the Fraser Government and it is identified with that sad period in Australian industrial relations history when confrontation was the main theme in industrial relations rather than trying to find a way of negotiating the settlement of disputes. It is important to note that despite the police-type role that the IRB had set out for itself under the Fraser Government , most of its activities were insubstantial in the end. If one peruses the list of those activities, one appreciates that the goals that the former Government boldly proclaimed for the Bureau were never realised. Thus it demonstrates that the police state mentality of industrial relations is a mentality that will never work. That mentality takes the view that one should deal with the effects of an industrial dispute rather than get to its cause. It believes that working men and women who argue or take action for a particular goal which, in sum, comes down to working out how the cake is fairly divided between contending forces, are if they do not comply with certain rules and regulations, acting as though they were criminals.

It is important to note that at the time of this last report of the IRB the Hawke Labor Government, by the introduction of a prices and incomes accord, has set the macro-framework for industrial relations correctly. It has brought the cause of industrial disputes-matters that affect wages, prices, taxes and the social wage; that is, the sum of items that add up to living standards-within the framework of negotiation through the prices and incomes accord. That is at a macro-level. At a micro-level, the Government has taken steps through the National Labour Consultative Council to hasten the implementation of industrial democracy so that, on a plant by plant basis, workers who have genuine grievances and managements that have genuine concerns can be brought together in an area of some harmony and dispassion in order to work out what is the best course in those circumstances, each for the other. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The time for this debate having expired, I now call on the next business.