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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 862

Senator CRANE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations. Is the government still standing by the central plank of its industrial relations reform agenda to allow non-unionised employees to engage in enterprise bargaining without union involvement?

Senator McMULLAN —One thing we will not do is allow the opposition to define for us the central plank of our industrial relations policy. We have made our position very clear, as did the Prime Minister to the ACTU this week. The Minister for Industrial Relations is to report at the ACTU congress today that the government—to quote the Prime Minister—`wants to see enterprise agreements extended to the non-union sector, but we won't see it done in ways which allow for reduced wages and conditions'. That remains the case, and it has been reiterated by Mr Brereton to the ACTU this morning. Those opposite who are enthusiastically waiting for us to institute a change that will allow wage cutting and the slashing of working conditions of Australian workers will have to wait a long time.

Senator CRANE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I have a copy of Mr Brereton's speech and it certainly does not address the issues that Senator McMullan just mentioned. In view of the fact that the minister has not answered the question, does this represent another pathetic cave-in and payback by the government in the face of electoral blackmail by the union movement as enunciated by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Mr Tickner, at the ACTU conference yesterday?

Senator McMULLAN —No.