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Tuesday, 13 October 2015
Page: 7410


Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (12:43): I do not think it would come as a surprise to Senator Day that Labor opposes these amendments. On the record, can I thank Senator Day for his indulgence last night—we had a long night and I know he gave way to me late in the evening; I sort of got carried away and left Senator Day without an opportunity to speak. I acknowledge that. Senator Day, I must say that the proposition you put up is not acceptable to Labor. The proposition that the government puts up is not quite as bad but it is every bit as bad in relation to the impediment it places before unions to negotiate better pay and conditions than those that apply in particular areas. If you simply had the situation that the government is proposing in this bill, if you only looked at the prevailing pay and conditions, then you would never be in a position to improve wages and conditions anywhere in the country—they would basically be frozen at the existing position. Your position is worse than that. It says that you have to take into account the particular circumstances and needs of the employees, employers and enterprises to which the agreement relates as well as the pay and conditions for work performed in similar circumstances. In our view, this is a recipe for pushing wages and conditions backwards. It is not consistent with allowing proper bargaining under the act. On that basis, we oppose the amendments.