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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3112


Senator COOK(12.42) —In many respects the Conciliation and Arbitration Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1983 is a remarkable piece of industrial relation legislation, remarkable because its introduction has not been accompanied by loud banner headlines and because it has not been roundly condemned or supported by one group or another. There have been no newspaper advertisements, stoppages or complaints about it. In fact, the legislation before us is remarkable in that it is widely supported. Some of the provisions of the legislation are, of course, supported by the provisions of the prices and incomes accord and by the decisions of the National Economic Summit Conference. Most of the provisions are supported by the National Labour Consultative Council , that tripartite body of government, unions and employers. The legislation includes, of course, items introduced by the previous Government and supported by the Australian Labor Party which were not able to be carried through the last Parliament.

Nearly all of the propositions in this legislation have been thoroughly canvassed. A remarkable degree of consensus has been achieved. In those areas where consensus has not been reached there has been a willingness to accept the compromise proposal that has been put by the Australian Government in this legislation. I suppose one can remark wryly that although bodies have been able to maintain their policy positions in NLCC discussions their preparedness to accept the legislation as it has been presented to the Parliament is perhaps an indication that they are not at all disatisfied with its contents. I think it is appropriate to say, therefore, that this legislation again demonstrates, as Senator Foreman rightly said, that the Government's course of pursuing consultation instead of confrontation is the right course. This once again demonstrates that the Labor Party is better at industrial relations than the Opposition. It demonstrates that the Labor Party has the ear of the unions, the respect of employers, and that because of its own philosophical background it knows this field and that it is a better industrial relations Government than the Liberal-National Party. As the time is now 12.45 p.m., I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.