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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 6

Senator ABETZ (1:10 PM) —Whilst the minister is doing that—and I thank him for that—is it not a fact that the minister and the government’s mantra in relation to not enhancing the position of the social partners, namely, ACCI and the ACTU, by increasing their representation on Safe Work from two to three each, was based on this wonderful balance of ensuring that the states did not lose their position of power, as it were, in the balance of power under this finely tuned agreement? As I recall, that was the rationale provided to us. It would seem passing strange, if that were the rationale, that the one state government that now actually supports this change—moved by the Senate and passed by the Senate—is in fact the Western Australian government, which one could reasonably argue is the most states rights focused of any of the state governments in Australia.

We have this bizarre proposition being put to us by the government that we should believe them on this matter, because of the finetuned agreement to ensure that all the states rights considerations were taken into account, yet the most proud, pro states rights government in Australia, the Western Australian government, is willing to dilute, as it were, state representation on Safe Work Australia and allow greater representation by the social partners. Are we actually to believe that to be the case, Minister, because, to coin a phrase I once used before—and for which I got into some trouble—it does not have the ring of truth about it?