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Tuesday, 25 November 1986
Page: 2709

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(8.38) —I am sorry to waste the time of the Committee, but the last contribution was so silly that it must be responded to. It should not be suggested that there cannot be an incentive. Indeed, our concern about the present tax system is that it poses a positive disincentive for the issue of shares to employees. I see that the Minister agrees with that comment. I think that is a problem that needs to be tackled. I hope that the present Government tackles it because, if it does not do so, the next one will. It is a change which clearly would encourage people to have that vested interest in the success of their employer. Nothing could be more valuable to Australia at this time than for the work force to have a greater sense of involvement in the fortunes of its employer.

Senator Mason raised the spectre of industrial democracy. That is a quite different matter. No sensible person whom I know of is advocating that we should have the sort of system which is broadly described as industrial democracy, in which there is some sort of right on the part of the work force to take a certain role in the management of companies by way of some sort of statutory entitlement. What we are encouraging-and I think this needs to be made quite clear-is the idea that employers and employees should be encouraged to have a common interest. We think that would be promoted by schemes such as profit sharing arrangements and employee share ownership. But to add to what is already a grossly inflexible system of industrial relations a statutory requirement that an employer who is otherwise entitled to receive a bounty must have an employee share ownership system is, in our view, moving in entirely the wrong direction. I make no apology for rejecting the Australian Democrats amendments. We think that they are counterproductive and will not produce the sort of co-operation and harmony in the work place which I believe we should be seeking.