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Tuesday, 15 December 1992
Page: 5106

Senator COOK (Minister for Industrial Relations) (1.31 a.m.) —It was about a month ago, on 12 October, that the Senate agreed, on the motion of Senator Bell, to refer this matter for inquiry to the Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training. That was an occasion on which the Senate divided, with all parties voting one way and the two Independent senators, Senator Powell and Senator Chamarette, voting another way. The matter has been referred to that Committee, terms of reference have been given to it, and the matter now arises in this manner outside the Committee and outside the process agreed by the Senate.

  I have to say on behalf of the Government that it is indeed a little surprising. It was the Democrats in 1984 who defeated the motion that is now being moved. It is a little surprising too that, having referred the matter to a committee for inquiry, the matter should be indicated in the way in which it is. The Government is in the position of saying that we do not support the continued operation of sections 45D and 45E of the Trade Practices Act in industrial relations. That would be consistent with the finding of the ILO. This matter is in the process of the Parliament inquiring and reporting.

  On the other finding of the ILO on the question of the minimum size of unions, although found by a committee and not by the judicial body of the ILO, I now foreshadow that I will seek the permission of the Senate to refer it tomorrow to the Employment, Education and Training Committee so that the Committee, on behalf of the Parliament, can inquire into both issues and report, and hopefully provide a logical basis for legislation. For those reasons, the Government will not be supporting this motion tonight.