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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 2221

(Question No. 1731)

Mr Ruddock asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 6 September 1984:

(1) Has the Minister's attention been drawn to a memorandum, dated 1 June 1984, to all permanent heads, heads of statutory authorities and staff organisations from the Secretary of the Public Service Board, concerning encouragement of union membership.

(2) Was the memorandum brought to the attention of all staff in the Minister's Department and all statutory authorities reporting to the Minister; if so, how and on what dates.

(3) What additional action has been taken within the Minister's Department and statutory authorities reporting to the Minister to avoid delays in constructive action being taken to encourage union membership and on what dates; if no additional action has been taken, what are the reasons for such a decision.

Mr Hawke —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) to (3) The Public Service Board's request was brought to the attention of all staff of my Department in the Department's Personnel Bulletin of 10 August 1984. Other action taken by my Department includes (a) publication in the Department's telephone directory of the names and contact numbers of the staff associations' representatives (b) notification in the Personnel Bulletin of the names of staff commencing duty with the Department thereby giving staff associations access to information on potential new members (c) agreement with staff associations that they have the opportunity of addressing new entrants at Departmental induction courses (d) agreement to staff association representatives conducting some association business in normal working hours.

The Public Service Board brought the information to the attention of its staff by means of a notice in the weekly Staff Bulletin of 13 July 1984. On 31 August 1984, workplace delegates were informed officially that they might carry on union business during normal business hours, provided that this did not extend beyond what is reasonable and did not interfere unduly with the progess of work, either by way of the absence of a workplace delegate from his/her workplace, or by way of the union activity being carried on.

The Australian Science and Technology Council brought the Public Service Board' s memorandum to the attention of all ASTEC staff and discussed it at a staff meeting on 7 June 1984. No further action has been taken at this stage.

At the Australian Audit Office the memorandum was brought to the attention of staff through their supervisors on 7 June 1984. It was also referred to areas of the Office responsible for recruitment and induction of new employees. Additional action on the question of encouragement of union membership is being looked at in the context of developing industrial democracy initiatives within the Australian Audit Office.

At the Office of National Assessments the memorandum was posted on office noticeboards during June 1984. New recruits are advised about union membership during the induction process and are provided with information about how to obtain membership.

At the Commonwealth Ombudsman's Office the thrust of the Public Service Board's memorandum was conveyed to all staff by staff circular on 3 August along with details of the availability of workplace delegates.