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Tuesday, 15 December 1992
Page: 5086

Senator PARER (11.48 p.m.) —I think what caused a bit of confusion was that there were some questions asked of the Minister and not responded to. We can come back to those later. The Opposition will not support the Democrat amendment.

Senator Schacht —Don't you support secret ballots?

Senator Burns —It is only for cowards anyhow.

Senator PARER —Here is one of the union thugs talking about cowards.

Senator Burns —That's right.

Senator PARER —`That's right', he says. The coalition will not support this amendment because, among other things, it is unworkable.

Senator Burns —Because you hate workers.

Senator PARER —Senator Burns does not know what it is like to be a worker.

Senator Burns —Another lie.

The CHAIRMAN —Senator Burns will withdraw that remark.

Senator Burns —I suggest that Senator Parer withdraw his remark which reflects on me.

The CHAIRMAN —First of all, withdraw your remark.

Senator Burns —I withdraw, Mr Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN —If you have a point of order, you can raise it.

Senator Burns —Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. The point of order concerns Senator Parer's reflection that I was not a worker.

The CHAIRMAN —It is probably uncalled for at this time of night, but it is probably a debating point.

Senator PARER —Mr Chairman, I thank you very much for your protection from the standover tactics occurring on the other side.

The CHAIRMAN —Now, come on. I think you should withdraw that.

Senator PARER —I withdraw, Mr Chairman. The coalition opposes this amendment for a number of reasons. The major one is that it is totally unworkable. We must admit, as is perfectly obvious, that Senator Cook is an expert in the field of industrial relations from the union point of view. He has had years and years of experience and he knows what he is on about. The Democrats have no idea—not only on this issue but on just about every other issue debated in this place. Senator Cook knows it is unworkable. That is the reason why it has been agreed to. I will give the Committee the reasons for that. The Democrat amendment talks about the outcome of any consultation between an organisation of employees, as does the Government amendment, by the way in which it is couched in somewhat similar terms. It has no definition in it whatsoever as to what is meant by `consultation'.

Senator Burns —Bosses' thuggery; that is all you know.

Senator PARER —Senator Burns likes interjecting, but he is an expert on industrial relations from the left wing union point of view as well. I would not dispute that, because I know the damage he did in Queensland in his heyday.

Senator Burns —Tell us all about it.

Senator PARER —Tell us about the way they used to hang your bike up on the crane. The second part of the Democrats' amendment attempts to soften the blow by saying that the Commission must consider whether in the circumstances the views of the employees, or of the employees in sections or classes of the employees, who would be so affected would be ascertained by a secret ballot.

Senator Schacht —`Should' be ascertained, not `would'.

Senator PARER —The amendment says `who would'. It says, `who would be so affected should be ascertained'. That is logistically impossible. If by that the Government means—and I am not sure whether it does—that it wants to cover every employee in the field, whether or not that employee be a member of the union which is trying to get itself into the Federal system—

Senator Burns —Rubbish! It happens now. Non-unionists are covered by awards.

Senator PARER —We are talking about a secret ballot of every employee who might be affected, whether he be a member of a union or not. It means having a secret ballot of those people who the union does not even know exists and who, incidentally, do not want to know the damn union. There is no recognition whatsoever in that amendment of the employers being consulted by the employees or the unions. There is no obligation for the union to consult the employees nor for the views of the employer to be made available to the Commission. I will not prolong the debate, except to say that they are the reasons why we oppose this amendment.