Page 3792 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 18 October 2005

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DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.19): The proposed changes to IR legislation are just one facet of an ideological commitment of the federal government to reshape the values of Australian society that result in the creation of a class of working poor in Australia. That may not be immediate but, as many commentators point out, it will occur over a number of years. It will work hand-in-glove with the government’s imminent welfare-to-work changes to push people with little recent work force experience, limited educational achievements and often a history of ill health, both mental and physical, into an environment where they will have to make their own workplace bargains, with public holidays, weekends and lunch breaks up for grabs.

Australia came together as a communitarian project, and one of the linchpins of that project was the establishment of the Industrial Relations Commission and a commitment to collective bargaining. Exchanging that approach to one of individual workplace bargaining is fraught with danger for those individuals who are not in high demand, who do not have easily marketable skills, who are not tough enough or confident enough to successfully fight those battles themselves.

Unions have been formed over a number of years simply because people found that they could not, on their own, negotiate successfully with employers. In all kinds of sectors people joined together to form groups because they knew that groups are more effective in achieving the goals of the individuals. I see, with this project of undoing unions, an attempt to undo what has been a very sensible approach by individuals to work together. It must have been successful, otherwise the federal government would not be wanting to undo it now.

One of the principles that grew to be a feature of Australian society over the last 100 years was looking out for others. This is an extension of the mythical notion of mateship. Australia was quite advanced when it came to introducing pensions for the aged, for widows, for veterans, introducing child endowment.

MR SPEAKER: The time for this debate has expired. The discussion of the matter of public importance has concluded.

Legal Affairs—Standing Committee

Scrutiny report 17

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra): I present the following report:

Legal Affairs—Standing Committee (performing the duties of a Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation Committee)—Scrutiny Report 17, dated 17 October 2005, together with the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I seek leave to make a brief statement.

Leave granted.

MR STEFANIAK: Scrutiny report 17 contains the committee’s comments on four bills, 16 pieces of subordinate legislation and seven government responses. The report was

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