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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4241

Senator CRANE (12.22 p.m.) —I would like to raise with the minister some matters relating to the objects of the act. I ask for an explanation as to why the wording of the objects of the 1988 act has changed from `to promote industrial harmony and cooperation among the parties involved in industrial relations' to `to provide a framework for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes'. The changes are very significant. Is section (e) in the objects of the act a direct recognition of the very significant changes that are being made as far as boycott provisions, restrictions on common law tort actions and removal of the responsibilities of union organisers on a work site are concerned? In fact, under the current 1988 act it is illegal for union officials or union organisers to incite people in the workplace—

Senator Burns —They don't have to.

Senator CRANE —It is in clauses 311 and 312 of the 1988 Industrial Relations Act. This amendment will remove that so that it will no longer be an offence under the Industrial Relations Act to go into the workplace and incite employees. Is this a direct recognition and admission right at the start of the act that the government is expecting to have more industrial disputation? If the government is not expecting that, why have the objects been changed?

  I have heard people on the other side of the chamber mention many times—and I have not disagreed with it—that in many of the unions today there is a much more objective attitude towards behaviour. Is not the fact that the government is changing those objectives a direct recognition that it is anticipating more disruption, more civil disobedience and a number of other things? If not, why is it necessary to change the objects of the act from `to promote industrial harmony and cooperation'? I believe that those words are much more appropriate than the proposed objective which I have outlined.