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Beazley and Ferguson don't understand Reserve laws.

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The Hon Bruce Scott MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence

Federal Member for Maranoa


Tuesday 12 October 1999




“Mr Beazley’s confusion over Reserve leave yesterday and Mr Ferguson’s comments today on employment protection show that Labor simply does not understand the laws and arrangements governing Reserve service,” the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott said today.


Mr Scott said. “The Shadow Minister for Defence Science and Personnel has joined the Leader of the Opposition in causing confusion about Reserves, and raising unnecessary doubt about the contribution Reserves can make to the East Timor deployment.”


“He is clearly unaware of the existing provisions of the Defence Re-establishment Act 1965 that prevent employers from penalising or prejudicing employees because of their service,” Mr Scott said.


“Sections 8 and 9 of that Act can be invoked where an employer refuses to release an individual Reservist who has volunteered to serve and who Defence requires.”


“This would involve charging the employer with an offence under that Act, and meeting the criminal standard of proof - beyond reasonable doubt.”


“The Government does not share Labor’s view that Australian employers do not want to support our Defence Force and our country’s Reservists. It is our approach to cooperate with employers in meeting Defence’s needs.”


“However, should the ADF require the skills of a particular Reservist to support the East Timor deployment, in the extreme event that cooperation with an employer fails, these sections of the Defence Re-establishment Act will be relied upon,” Mr Scott said.


“The lack of scrutiny of existing legislation by the previous Government has meant that incorrect assumptions about the protection of Reservists’ employment persist.”


“It is my view that in an extreme case, where Defence’s need for the particular Reservist was great, and the individual had volunteered, it is unlikely an employer would refuse to release them,” said Mr Scott.


“Our successful arrangements with Telstra and the Victorian Police are testament to the willingness of Australian employers to support our Reservists.”


“The Opposition’s real agenda is not about an effective Reserve. What it is about is bringing back the outdated, inflexible award system,” said Mr Scott.


Further information: Michael Shoebridge 0419 266 962



dd  1999-10-14  09:32