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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5828


Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) (8:08 PM) —You might tempt me there, Senator Abetz, and I may not agree with you. My view is not the relevant point here; the legislation is the relevant point. The bill that is before us provides for a choice by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I do not know what circumstances would arise that would require another area to be chosen, but the bill does allow flexibility in the decision, it does ensure that the minister can have the flexibility in choosing the most representative body for the particular issue that is alive at a particular time. I think the legislation being put forward provides the flexibility that is needed. It is a sensible position, one whereby the minister can ensure that, from both the employer’s perspective and the employee’s perspective, all the issues are dealt with appropriately.

As I said, I am surprised that you would pick one employer organisation over another. That is the choice that we would be faced with in this legislation. I am sure that if the shoe were on the other foot you would be asking why I had picked one employer organisation over another and you would be saying that the flexibility should be there for the relevant minister to choose—or we would be in a convoluted position of having a list of employer representative bodies so that we did not embarrass one or the other. Both circumstances are really second-best solutions. I am surprised that you have picked one against others that could represent the interests of employers in this area. Be that as it may, it is your choice.