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Monday, 21 April 1980
Page: 1611

Senator Ryan asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 20 March 1980:

What action did the Australian government take during the International Year of the Child to secure ratification of the following International Labour Organization conventions: (a) No. 77, Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry), 1946; (b) No. 78, Young Persons (NonIndustrial Occupations), 1946; (c) No. 79, Night Work of Young Persons (Non-Industrial Occupations), 1946; (d) No. 90, Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) (Revised), 1948; (e) No. 124, Medical Examination of Young Persons (Underground Work), 1965; and (f) No. 138, Minimum Age, 1973.

Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(   1 ) On the basis of information available to the Department of Industrial Relations from both the relevant Commonwealth authorities and the States, it is considered that ILO Conventions Nos 77, 78 and 124 no longer constitute immediate objectives for ratification by Australia. For example, as regards the medical examination instruments, it has not been considered necessary in Australia to implement the practice of recurrent medical examinations of young workers employed in all occupations. In other instances, there has been a conscious decision to pursue the ratification of more recently adopted instruments which seek to promote safe working environments for all Australian workers.

(2)   The other three instruments mentioned by the honourable senator, that is, Conventions Nos 79, 90 and 138, are discussed regularly at the officer level of the Commonwealth/State consultative machinery which was set up in 1947 to consider unratified ILO Conventions. In this regard, I should mention that where the subject matter of an ILO Convention is within the joint legislative competence of the Commonwealth and State Parliaments, the agreement of all relevant jurisdictions must be obtained before Australia can proceed to ratification. Such agreements to ratify are only given when the competent authorities are satisfied that law and practice in their respective jurisdictions comply fully with the provisions of a particular Convention. All of the Conventions referred to by the honourable senator come within the scope of these arrangements. It might also be noted that no State has yet agreed to the ratification of any of these Conventions.

(3)   I should add that Convention No. 138 has been determined by the consultative machinery to deal with matters of important intrinsic principle' and, as such, has been accorded highest priority in the consultative machinery's consideration of unratified Conventions. In addition, Convention No. 138 and its supplementary Recommendation (Recommendation No. 146) are the basis of a special law and practice report to the ILO this year. It is hoped that some of the impediments to ratification of this Convention will be further clarified in the preparation of this report.

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