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Tuesday, 25 May 1993
Page: 1247


Senator KEMP (9.48 p.m.) —I briefly want to add my strong support to the views put forward by my colleagues Senator Crane and Senator Parer. I put to the Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services (Senator McMullan) that what has been revealed in this estimates process are, I regret to say, deals which have essentially been kept secret from the public who ultimately pay the money to finance these deals. In relation to performance pay cash bonuses, one can point to documents which have been available in the public arena but they have virtually received no attention and no press. We have found that some deals have been struck which essentially have been kept secret from the public. Very substantial benefits have been delivered without proper public debate or proper scrutiny.

  In the old days the Australian Labor Party used to be very strong supporters of the IRC. At that time those sorts of agreements would have had to be registered with and perhaps arbitrated on by the IRC. My understanding is that the Minister seems to be loath to enter into this debate, but perhaps he could address this specific question. When the deal is struck with the public service unions, am I right in saying that it will be registered with the AIRC but that body will not have a role in arbitrating on the agreement or in ensuring that the agreement is fully in line with the public interest? Perhaps the Minister could address the more general comments and then give me a specific answer to that question.