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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2877

Mr HUNT(10.50) —by leave-On behalf of the National Party of Australia, I move:

(2) Clause 12, page 11, lines 33 and 34, omit paragraph (3) (g).

(3) Clause 17, page 13, lines 25 and 26, omit paragraph (2) (d).

In addressing myself to these amendments I want to answer a point that was made by the honourable member for Brand (Ms Fatin), because it is very relevant to these two clauses. The honourable member claimed that the merit principle was not good enough. She said this in response to my claim that clause 43 rarely protected the rights of women or any other section of the community. Clause 43 states:

Nothing in this Act shall be taken to require action that is incompatible with the principle that employment matters should be dealt with on the basis of merit.

The honourable member for Brand said in all honesty-and I think she was the only one on the Government side who has been honest on the issue-that this legislation required the application of an equal employment opportunity program and that assessment actions, consultation actions, employee information actions and policy actions were needed in relation to the program. The Minister has said: `Don't worry about it because all it will require will be two or three paragraphs in an annual report'. I submit that that is not correct, because the full impact of the equal employment opportunity legislation will affect the operations of this Bill and of the Australian Wool Corporation.

I understand that, in discussions that took place between officials of the Department of Primary Industry and the Australian Wool Corporation, the original draft of the section on equal employment opportunity was about three pages in length. After a lot of negotiation they broke it down to what is contained in clauses 41 and 42, believing in all sincerity that those clauses were going to relieve them of the obligations of the equal employment opportunity legislation. The simple fact of the matter is that if clauses 41 and 42 of this legislation are carried the Australian Wool Corporation will be bound hand and foot to the full impact of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. There is not the slightest doubt about that, and there is no doubt that there will be costs.

Mr Hand —What is wrong with that?

Mr HUNT —The honourable member for Melbourne asks: `What is wrong with that?'. What is wrong with it is that it adds up to a lot of bureaucracy, a lot of cost, a lot of claims and counter claims and evidence being given. If the honourable member thinks that the Wool Corporation is going to get away with this sort of legislation without additional cost to the wool growers of Australia, when in fact there has not been any evidence of discrimination, he has another think coming. We think it is totally unnecessary because the merit principle is embodied in this legislation. We do not oppose that, but we oppose the bureaucratic nightmare that the equal employment opportunity legislation imposes upon employers, on business and on corporations such as this.

Motion (by Mr Kerin) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Amendments negatived.

Clauses agreed to.

Clause 41 (Corporation to develop and implement equal employment opportunity program).