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

Mr Abbott (Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) moved—That the amendments be disagreed to.

Debate ensued.


The House divided (the Deputy Speaker, Mr Jenkins, in the Chair)—

AYES, 75

Mr AbbottMrs DraperJackie KellyMr Scott
Mr K. J. AndrewsMr DuttonDr KempMr Secker
Mr AnthonyMrs ElsonMr P. E. KingMr Slipper
Fran BaileyMr EntschMrs LeyMr A. D. H. Smith
Mr BairdMr FarmerMr LindsayMr Somlyay
Mr BaldwinMrs GallusMr LloydDr Southcott
Mr BarresiMs GambaroMr McArthur*Dr Stone
Mr BartlettMr GeorgiouMr McGauranMr C. P. Thompson
Mr BillsonMr HaaseMrs MayMr Ticehurst
Mrs B. K. BishopMr HardgraveMr NairnMr Tollner
Ms J. I. BishopMr HartsuykerDr NelsonMr Truss
Mr BroughMr HawkerMr Neville*Mr M. A. J. Vaile
Mr CadmanMr HockeyMs PanopoulosMrs D. S. Vale
Mr CameronMrs HullMr PearceMr Wakelin
Mr CausleyMr HuntMr ProsserDr Washer
Mr CharlesMr JohnsonMr PyneMr Williams
Mr CioboMr JullMr RandallMr Windsor
Mr CobbMr KatterMr RuddockMs Worth
Mr DownerMrs D. M. KellyMr Schultz

NOES, 61

Mr AdamsMr M. J. FergusonMr McClellandMs Roxon
Mr AlbaneseMr FitzgibbonMs J. S. McFarlaneMr Rudd
Mr BevisMs GeorgeMs MacklinMr Sawford
Mr BreretonMr GibbonsMr McLeayMr Sciacca
Ms BurkeMs GillardMr McMullanMr Sercombe
Mr ByrneMr GriffinMr MelhamMr Sidebottom
Ms CorcoranMs HallMr MossfieldMr S. F. Smith
Mr CoxMr HattonMr MurphyMr Snowdon
Mr CreanMs HoareMs O'ByrneMr Swan
Mrs CrosioMrs IrwinMr B. P. O'ConnorMr K. J. Thomson
Mr Danby*Ms JacksonMr G. M. O'ConnorMs Vamvakinou
Mr EdwardsMr KerrMr OrganMr Wilkie
Ms EllisMs C. F. KingMs PlibersekMr Zahra
Mr EmersonMr LathamMr Price
Mr EvansDr LawrenceMr Quick*
Mr L. D. T. FergusonMs LivermoreMr Ripoll

* Tellers

And so it was resolved in the affirmative.

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 Amendments 1 and 5

These amendments go together.

Amendment number 1 would give the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (the Commission) the power to vary an award to reduce the period of time which a casual must serve before being able to access termination of employment provisions.

In the Senate, the Opposition said that this amendment was contingent on the Senate accepting a second Opposition amendment—amendment 5—which would reduce the qualifying period which a casual must serve from a minimum of twelve months (as contained in the Bill) to a minimum of six months, unless a shorter period was specified in an award or certified agreement.

Business, particularly small business, deserves a clear, consistent framework of workplace relations laws. The qualifying period for casuals wanting to access unfair dismissal laws has been set at twelve months since 1996. Therefore the House of Representatives does not believe that it would be beneficial to business or to future job creation if that period were to be halved, or if the Commission were to be given the power to vary the period further.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives rejects these amendments.

Senate Amendments 2, 3 and 4

These amendments would give all employees, including short-term casuals, access to remedies for unlawful dismissal, (as opposed to unfair dismissal), from the start of their employment. Presently short-term casuals are prevented from accessing remedies for both unlawful and unfair dismissal until they served 12 months.

This prohibition has been in place since the ALP first introduced a casual exemption into the termination of employment laws. Whilst this amendment may have some merit, the House of Representatives believes that further consideration is necessary, and any change should be made through the appropriate legislative vehicle at the appropriate time.

Accordingly, the House of Representatives rejects these amendments.

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