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Tuesday, 15 December 1992
Page: 5092

Senator PARER (12.30 a.m.) —The Minister for Industrial Relations (Senator Cook) has vast experience in industrial relations, certainly from the union side, so he is well aware of the practicalities as opposed to the theories that abound. I think he would probably agree with me in private moments that the legalism that exists within the industrial relations system is a pain in the neck to all parties. I ask the Minister: does the legislation not mean that any union in Victoria can manufacture a phoney paper dispute? In the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Minister when referring to disputation said that he did not mean strike action, he meant in disagreement form; so any union can manufacture a phoney paper dispute with an ambit claim, with which most employees are familiar, simply to force the change from a State award to a Federal award. In other words, it is an engineered situation. In this economic climate, why is the Government prepared to continue to play silly games, or to allow the unions to continue those silly games, when what is desperately needed is reform of this antiquated and inflexible system?

  I refer the Minister to the book by Paul Kelly, The End of Certainty. He said that the only reason the Government did not deregulate the labour market and reduce that inflexibility—they are my words—was because of vested ties with the trade unions. Is it not about time that the Minister and the Government came out honestly and admitted that they are beholden to the trade union movement and that this is what this is all about? Or are they ashamed to admit it?