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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5825

Senator ABETZ (7:54 PM) —Can I indicate that the coalition had drafted similar amendments in relation to the numbers for the representative bodies being increased from two to three. We believe that that is important in trying to get the balance right, especially when you read the detail in the legislation as to the numbers and the strength of the vote that, in particular, the state and territory governments will have on this body. We as an opposition strongly believe that, rather than giving greater emphasis to state bureaucrats in this sort of legislation, there ought to be emphasis on those who actually have to deal with the legislation in the workplaces—that is, of course, the employers and the employees. Therefore, maintaining that sort of representation at the level of three each seemed to us in the opposition to be a worthy cause.

Seeing as Senator Xenophon kindly ceded to us in relation to the objects, we thought it would be a good idea if he moved this tranche of amendments. Agreement seems to be breaking out between us, Senator Xenophon and Senator Siewert, so we will have to be very careful that it does not become catching—

Senator Xenophon —Don’t get too carried away!

Senator ABETZ —and, yes, that we do not get too carried away with it. In relation to the nomination of the organisations, the coalition had given consideration to an amendment indicating that the representatives had to be from the peak employee representative body and the peak employer representative body recognised by the International Labor Organisation, but it is cleaner, tidier and more definite to name the organisations so that there is absolute clarity. I think the Greens have given similar consideration to Senator Xenophon’s approach. The coalition on balance believe the Xenophon and Greens approach on this may be more beneficial than that which we had initially anticipated, so I can indicate the coalition’s support for Senator Xenophon’s amendments.