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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4317

Senator PARER (8.22 p.m.) —I heard Senator Bell refer to the no disadvantage rule. What I have to say will be of interest to Senator Margetts as well because I will give a couple of examples. This happened in New South Wales. A Sydney based company reached an agreement with its employees to work four 10-hour shifts each week, for a number of reasons. One reason was to make it more flexible for its employees. Another was to maximise capital utilisation. More importantly, according to the company, it was to reduce the company's energy bill. The company was prepared to pay wage increases to supplement the change. It was agreed that a shift allowance of 30 per cent under the award be reduced to 15 per cent. The union intervened and refused to be party to the agreement on the basis that the cut would be a reduction in national standards.

  Another example involves another New South Wales company. An agreement was made at the enterprise level to introduce annualised salaries and to buy out annual leave. The agreement was actually signed and agreed to by a state official. But, when the agreement went for certification, it was repudiated by the national official because it did not fit in with union policy.

Senator Murphy —But under the current act you can't reduce standards; you don't understand that.

Senator PARER —This is not a reduction in an award standard. Senator Murphy is so inflexible. That is the whole problem with this country. We are trying to do things which are for the benefit of the employee as well as the employer. We want to introduce some flexibility to make us more productive and give people the incentive to invest so that employment is increased. It is interesting that Senator Murphy interjected because the other day he made the point that—I am going off the subject a little, but the sort of nonsense we get from Senator Murphy gives me an opportunity to respond to him—if people were to become more productive, how on earth could it increase employment.

  I will not go into that right now because we are short of time. But, if Senator Murphy wants to have a look at page 7 or 8 of the Industry Commission report, he will get all the answers. If Senator Murphy can read, he might come back here with a different response. This is the sort of nonsense we hear when we get this so-called no disadvantage rule and the overlap between state and federal jurisdictions. I could not agree more with my colleague Senator Crane that we are a Commonwealth. We are made up of states. To have everybody dressed up—as those opposite would like them to be—in Chairman Mao tunics, from an industrial relations point of view, is a nonsense and a recipe for continuing—

Senator Murphy —Mr Temporary Chairman, I rise on a point of order. All I sought to do was raise with Senator Parer the very fact that he was saying—

  The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator McGauran)—This should not be a personal explanation. What is your point of order, Senator Murphy?

Senator Murphy —Senator Parer stated something that was blatantly incorrect.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —There is no point of order. Senator Murphy, I cut you off because we may very well have a very long night ahead of us and the more points of order that are taken and the more interjections that are made, the longer we will be here.