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Tuesday, 14 December 1993
Page: 4556

Senator McMULLAN (Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services) (9.01 p.m.) —I will put my head above the desk for a moment. I understand Senator Crane's enthusiasm about this matter. It is a fairly typical opposition situation. The opposition will use any stick to beat the unions. It will never put an old disused stick away just in case it wants to belt the unions again.

  Senator Hill interjecting

Senator McMULLAN —If the Leader of the Opposition interjects from other than his seat, far be it for me to say anything about it. The way Senator Crane has described the industrial relations system is not how it has worked for the last 40 years.

Senator Crane —It is just because the clause is there.

Senator McMULLAN —The clause has not been used because industrial difficulties have been resolved by the orthodox conciliation and arbitration process. There are other remedies for breaches of awards. This is the way people have been working for 30 or 40 years.

  I know that the opposition believes that any old stick is better than no stick at all. Those opposite may think that they are able to use it sometime to beat the trade union movement. Really that is a pretty old fashioned idea. I have been advised that the employers of Australia have not been using this process since the 1950s. I do not know of anyone who has recently reverted to this sort of process. I think this clause ought to be repealed for those obvious reasons. It is inappropriate in contemporary industrial relations. However, honourable senators are entitled to their views.