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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4352

Senator HARRADINE (11.42 p.m.) —I have not said anything about clause 21 until now but, unless I am very wrong, I do not think it is really worth arguing about. If honourable senators have a look at the proposed clause, it says:

This section applies unless an application is made by 1 March 1994 to the Commission for a test case to establish entitlements for employees to leave of absence to provide care or support for a member of the employee's immediate family who is ill.

We have been told by the minister—and most people who are industrially literate will know—that the ACTU will initiate such a test case. So proposed subsections (2) and (3) in this particular clause will, therefore, have no effect. Whether this clause is agreed to or not, as I understand it an application can be made to the commission for certain types of leave. They include compassionate leave, parental leave—they are already occurring—and I suppose, in a particular way, carer's leave; call it what you like.

  But the interesting part about this amendment is that proposed subsection (1) says that leave of absence will be provided for an employee to care for or support a member of the employee's immediate family who is ill. It is, of course, incumbent upon the commission, in any of its considerations, to have regard to what the view of the legislature is about particular words and particular clauses. In respect of 170KAA (1) the commission will have to have regard to what the legislature means by the word `family'.

Senator Kernot —The immediate family.

Senator HARRADINE —Yes, I will come to that. The commission will have to determine what is meant by `immediate'. In some award provisions, compassionate leave, for example, does extend to a funeral for a mother-in-law. What I am saying is that the commission will need to have regard to what the legislature means by the word `family'. The legislature has made it perfectly clear what it means by `family' and will do so again next week in respect of the child-care rebate. So I really do not think—and I might be wrong—that this debate is worth all of the time that has been spent on it so far. Again, I might be wrong, but I thought I would just offer that opinion.