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Tuesday, 26 August 1980
Page: 684

Mr JARMAN (DEAKIN, VICTORIA) - My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Industrial Relations, relates to consultation between government and the trade union movement. Can the Minister inform the House what the Government has done to implement consultation between government and the trade unions?

Mr STREET (CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Industrial Relations) - This Government, ever since it came to office, has encouraged consultation and communication as a means of improving the standard of industrial relations. As the House will know, in 1977 we established the National Labour Consultative Council so that government, employers and unions could meet regularly. During the last three years this Council and its committees have done much useful work. One of the main benefits of this work - I freely acknowledge this - has been better industrial legislation. In addition, as a matter of course we maintain less formal contacts on a continuing basis.

That is in stark contrast to the record of the Labor Government. Even though that Government had available to it what was then known as the National Labour Advisory Council, not once during the three years it was in office did it call that body together. I notice that the Australian Labor Party is now talking again about consultations and national conferences. All that mumbo-jumbo sounds very hollow when one looks at the Labor Party's track record. Last week the Leader of the Opposition said that a Labor government would maintain a separate Department of Industrial Relations, but the honourable member for Port Adelaide is on record in this House, when referring to the division of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations, as saying: . . . was a matter to which we on this side of the House object. As soon as the people of Australia re-elect a Labor Government that will become one department.

Obviously that will not happen, but it is interesting to speculate on who would get the job. There would appear to me to be a couple of candidates - one inside this House and one outside it. Even the Leader of the Opposition would know that two will not go into one.

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