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Monday, 11 August 2003
Page: 13054

Senator MURPHY (8:05 PM) —With regard to comments made by Senator Campbell in respect of points raised by Senator Harradine, I have to say I agree with Senator Harradine, but I do not know that Senator Campbell's attempt to draw some correlation between what has happened in respect of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission—or what was the old ASC—can really be drawn at all because we are really dealing with two separate matters. I suspect—although I cannot say I know—that at the time of bringing the Corporations Law under national law there was probably not too much opposition from the states, for very good reason. There is very good reason for proceeding to have national law apply in that sense. But we are dealing here with a totally different concept. We are dealing here with the dismissal laws that affect employees in different states. If you were to have, as I said earlier, a truly national application of industrial relations laws, then you would have a national set of standards in respect of wages and conditions. But we do not have that; we simply do not have it. It is appropriate that dismissal laws applicable in each state get dealt with at the state level, because that is where it is best understood. That is why not only can I not support the amendment that we are debating at the moment, which is the amendment on the commencement date, but I cannot support any amendment by the Democrats to the legislation—I simply do not support the legislation.

If we were to spend our time effectively in this place, our debate would concern other measures in connection with small business in this country and what we could do for it, such as effect changes to the taxation laws. Such changes might make a far more significant contribution to the wellbeing of small business in this country than anything contained in the bills or the proposed amendments to them.

As I have said, the attempt to give an example of a successful moving of state laws under one umbrella at a national level was a poor one. I have to say that I noted Senator Campbell's remarks about the service of ASIC. I assure Senator Campbell that any number of people would say they have not been well served by ASIC. I can think of a number of companies and businesses in my state that would draw that conclusion. Whilst I agree that we should have a national approach in that respect, its success has been somewhat tarnished in recent times with certain outcomes of regulation and regulatory control over some companies in this country.

I oppose the amendment. As I have said, I do not think the parliamentary secretary's contribution added any argument for the support or otherwise of amendments.