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Tuesday, 3 April 1984
Page: 1085

Senator CHANEY —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. I ask the Minister, in the light of his purported knowledge of debate within the Opposition parties about these matters, whether he is familiar with the discussions that are taking place within his own Government organisation about the desire on the part of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations to change the industrial relations and wage fixing system to increase its flexibility. I ask the Minister whether he has taken part in any discussions on whether there should be a move towards limited collective bargaining outside the centralised wage fixing system . Are these matters of debate within the Government, within the Government Party and within the bureaucracy that the Government now controls?

Senator BUTTON —I am not aware of any discussion--

Senator Messner —That is right.

Senator BUTTON —Just a minute. I am not aware of any discussion having taken place, as Senator Chaney put it, within my Party or organisation. No discussion has taken place within my Party or organisation in relation to this matter. It does not matter which faction Senator Rae talks about; no discussion has taken place. I am fully aware that the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations has circulated a discussion paper on these issues and, in so doing, has embraced some of the points embraced by Mr Macphee in his side of the continuous wrangle going on within the Opposition to which I was referring earlier in Question Time when I was interrupted by interjections. I am quite aware of the circulation of that paper. It is an important contribution to the debate on wages policy. I look forward to the day when the Opposition can make an important contribution to the debate on wages policy. It seems a long way off .