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Tuesday, 16 November 1993
Page: 2861


Senator CHAPMAN —I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to clause 170DB of the new Brereton industrial relations bill which states that an employee of five or more years service must be given at least four weeks notice of dismissal, and that an employee of more than one year at least two weeks notice. Why were the two housekeepers at the Lodge given less than 24 hours notice of their dismissal and told that the guards would turn them away if they approached the establishment?


Senator ROBERT RAY —In terms of what is proposed in future legislation, we will comment on that when that legislation comes before this chamber. But there has been some publicity given to the fact—and it was explored, of course, at length at an estimates committee meeting—that there was not total harmony in terms of the staff at the Lodge; I think one cook and two housekeepers had their services terminated. If they have a grievance as to the particular manner in which that was done, there are plenty of remedies by which they can take that matter up.


Senator CHAPMAN —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question: is it not true that, following their dismissal, these women were intimidated by sections of the Crimes Act being read out to them when they went to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to ascertain why they had been sacked? Is not this yet another example of a Prime Minister who considers himself above the law and dismissive of his own legislative responsibilities?


Senator ROBERT RAY —Mr Deputy President, you will notice how carefully Senator Chapman put that particular question as though implying that the Prime Minister had threatened either of these staff. That certainly is absolutely untrue, and it should be said for the public record that it is untrue that he did so.