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Monday, 12 October 2015
Page: 7372


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (20:09): In relation to your first question: no, absolutely not. These are greenfields agreements. As I have already tried to articulate several times tonight, a greenfields agreement has at least two parties: the employer and the union. If there is more than one union, then it is the employer and the unions. So the answer to your first question is no.

I do not agree with your analysis of why the coalition is bringing in this particular amendment. All I can go back to is this: as we all know, and as Senator Xenophon put so eloquently, greenfields agreements are vital for the commencement of new projects. What the bill is going to ensure in a very simple manner is that these agreements are negotiated, as I have said, subject to the good faith bargaining provisions that are currently not in there. We are bringing them in within a reasonable time frame and, of course, if the commission finds that they are in the public interest.

It is 10 past eight. If you do not want to vote on this tonight, that is fine. I accept that. But I think you and I are going to have to disagree going forward. If you want to put your amendments, let us vote on this one and then you can argue the merits of why you say arbitration is a more appropriate way to deal with this. The only thought that I would leave with the crossbenchers on that is: the Qantas arbitration, I understand, took 449 days. We do not have that time to waste in this country. We have people out there who need jobs. We have employees who need to be paid. They need to be in work. We just want to provide them with certainty in these circumstances.