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WORKPLACE RELATIONS AMENDMENT (GENUINE BARGAINING) BILL 2002—SENATE'S AMENDMENTS

The order of the day having been read for the consideration of the amendments made by the Senate—

On the motion of Mr Abbott (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations), amendments (1), (2), (3), (6) and (7) were agreed to, after debate.

On the motion of Mr Abbott, amendments (4) and (5) were disagreed to, after debate.

Mr Abbott presented reasons, which were circulated, and are as follows:

Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate

Senate Amendment (4)

Under section 170MW of the Workplace Relations Act 1996, a bargaining period can be suspended or terminated on the ground that the party which notified the bargaining period is not genuinely trying to reach agreement. The effect of Senate Amendment (4) would be to provide that genuinely trying to reach agreement includes `bargaining in good faith'.

The Government does not support inclusion in the Workplace Relations Act of references to bargaining in good faith. The Act already provides protections against duress, coercion and discrimination in relation to bargaining. Beyond these protections, the bargaining process should be left to the immediate parties. The Australian Industrial Relations Commission should not be given a general role of scrutinising the approach to bargaining taken by the parties.

The House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

Senate Amendment (5)

The effect of Senate Amendment (5), which is linked to Senate Amendment (4), would be to list in section 170MW of the Workplace Relations Act factors that the Commission would have to consider when assessing whether or not a party that is engaging in industrial action is bargaining in good faith. This amendment assumes that the parties should adopt a prescribed approach to bargaining - an approach which may not be appropriate or necessary in all circumstances. The House of Representatives does not support this approach, for the reasons given above.

The House of Representatives does not accept this amendment.

On the motion of Mr Abbott, the reasons were adopted.