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Thursday, 31 October 1996
Page: 4876


Senator CHILDS(12.40 p.m.) —I want to raise another matter. As I am about to go into the chair, I thought I might get in before the parliamentary secretary speaks. The opposition amendment adds the words `better pay'. When the parliamentary secretary is replying on the objects, I want him to say why that cannot be accepted by the government. `Better pay for better work' was the slogan that the government deceived the Australian people on as it went to the last election. There is nothing in this legislation that I can see that will deliver better pay to workers.

Over the last 14 years the coalition has supported just two wage increases before the Industrial Relations Commission. The time was never right for the Liberal and National parties when there was a question of granting or supporting increases before the Industrial Relations Commission. I ask the parliamentary secretary to answer that question.

I ask the Democrats, in turn, to support that object too, because it is clear that the issue of better pay is critical. If you cannot accept that principle of better pay when you are looking at the objects of industrial legislation, you are admitting that the whole point of the objects, as composed by this government in their deal with the Democrats, is to prevent wage increases. All the tactics of suppression that are contained in the detail of the legislation are being used to oppose better pay.

Not to accept the expression `better pay' here gives the game away. This government really is trying, in its classic sneaky style, to first of all not accept better pay as a principle that everybody can see. It has moved away from its election promises. By not allowing the words `better pay' to be inserted in the objects of the bill, the apple that was held out to people will be a rotten core.