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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5838

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) (9:01 PM) —I do not want to delay the debate too much longer in respect of this point but, if you want an answer in respect of consultation, I will give you one. In the time that the Rudd government has been in government we have had five rounds of workplace relations ministers councils, WRMCs. For the period when the opposition were in government and dealt with Work Choices—I will play the game that Senator Abetz has occasionally played in this place—guess the number.

Senator Abetz —No, it was not guess the number.

Senator LUDWIG —Guess the number of WRMCs that the opposition had when they were in government during Work Choices. It will not be hard for those on this side to know the answer. I am sure Senator Abetz might recall that the answer is zero—none. It begs the question: why would the opposition argue for a better position than what they themselves provided? We, on the other hand, have sought to consult through the WRMC, as the appropriate place for that consultation. In fact, when Mr Hockey was the workplace relations minister during the 18-month period of Work Choices, there were how many WRMCs—if we play that game again? The answer, and I will relieve everyone of the burden of guessing, is exactly the same answer that I provided before—zero. What we are putting forward is consultation with social partners through the NWRCC, the National Workplace Relations Consultative Council. It is the position that we can provide you with the answer because we are about consulting. We are about ensuring that there is consultation in respect of this—unlike Work Choices which had a one-day Senate hearing to boot.